History of Knysna

Province: Western Cape
Coordinates:34°02′08″S 23°02′56″E
Area: 108.77 km2
Municipality: Knysna

The name Knysna probably comes from a Khoisan word meaning “place of wood’ or “fern leaves”
In the mid to late 18th century, a few Dutch settlers hacked their way through the dense vegetation to establish farms in the area. The farm Melkhoutkraal which included Knysna lagoon and the Knysna heads was granted to Stephanus Terblans in 1770.
The farm was bought by George Rex in 1804. George Rex arrived at the Cape during the first British occupation, at the time he held some administrative posts in the government. When the country administration was taken over by the Batavian regime in 1803 he did not return to Britain but stayed on in the Cape. He was by all accounts a colourful man who when he grew tired of the high life in Cape Town, settled in Melkhoutkraal in Knysna where he built a magnificent homestead. He and his family set about farming and forestry. By the time the Cape had reverted to British rule, he agitated for a harbour to be developed inside the Knysna lagoon. Thereby the area would be economically viable. This would negate the difficulty with transportation as a road through the forest was difficult to build.

The woodcutter families who found themselves unemployed when woodcutting was halted in the late 1930s. They were relocated to the settlement of Karatara, founded on this plateau in 1941. Set out in a grid, the 40’s style houses now reflect their occupants’ colourful personalities. 

In 1878 a gold nugget was discovered in the Karatara River. Fortune hunters arrived from far and wide. However, there was not enough gold to make the resulting goldfield established  in Millwood sustainable. Miners relocated to Knysna bringing their homes with them. One of these called Millwood House is used as a museum.
By 1880 it was necessary to establish a municipality.

The postcode for Knysna is 6571


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Things to do and see in Knysna

  • Klein Karoo Kampioenskappe Stock cars Oudtshoorn Motorklub, held in July
  • Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival inApril https://www.pinkloeriefoundation.com/
  • 7 passes MTB challenge
  • Oyster festival held in July
  • Visit the SANparks office on Thesen Island where you can see , and learn about the only known esturine species of seahorses in the word which are endemic to the area .The seahorses swim at speeds of more than 500 body lengths per second. Their eyes move independently like those of a chameleon. The males have a pouch like a kangaroo; the female lays her eggs in this pouch.Also see the interactive art route featuring public art such as large sculptures, murals and mosaics.

Useful Numbers

  • Knysna Municipality.044 302 6451
  • Police: 044 302 6600 Law Enforcement0)44 302 6551
  • Traffic department: 044 302 6551
  • Fire: 044 302 8911
  • Water:044 302 6331
  • Electricity: 044 302 6409
  • Ambulance: 10177
  • Post office;044 382 1211
  • Library:044 302 6544
  • Closest hospital;044 302 6544
  • Knysna Town Clinic-044 382 0836
  • Pharmacy;Knysna Central Pharmacy-044 382 5222
  • SPCA:Knysna Animal Welfare – 044 384 1603
  • Knysna Town Halls and civic centres 
  • Local newspaper Knysna Plett Herald 044 382 1185
  • Schools

Knysna Montessori School -044 382 5316
Oakhill School -044 382 6506
Knysna High School-044 382 2137
Riverwood Primary School-044 382 2871
Little Elephants Pre-Primary School-044 382 6915
Percy Mdala High School -044 375 0020
Hornlee Primary School – 044 385 0306
Fraaisig Primary School – 044 385 0395
Sunridge Primary School -044 385 1698
Thembelitsha Primary School- 044 382 7144
Concordia High School-044 382 7144
Knysna Hornlee Secondary School -044 385 0310
Chris Nissen Primary School -044 382 0702
Bracken Hill Ek Primary School -044 375 9066                                                                                  Knysna Primary School -044 382 1422

  • Museum; Knysna Millwood Museum – 044 302 6320
  • The Motorcycle Room – 079 497 4723
  • NSRI Alex Blaikie Museum – 082 560 2611
    The Hollywood Homestead Knysna 044 384 0764
  • Tourism (0)44 382 5510[/vc_column_text]

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