History of Langebaan

Province: Western Cape
West coast
Coordinates:33°5′30″S 18°2′0″E
Area:20.17 km2
Municipality:Saldanha Bay

The town Langebaan was founded in 1922 and was used as a whaling station until the 1960s. The whaling station was at Donkergat and can still be seen from the town. A reminder of Langebaan‘s whaling history is the harpoon gun outside the Municipal Buildings.
The first European here was Vasco Da Gama who landed at St Helena Bay in 1497. In the 1600s, the Dutch East India Company used Saldanha Bay’s calm waters as a repair location for their sailing ships.
There is evidence of Homo Sapiens in this area dating back about 500 000 years. They lived in groups and hunted small game, used tools, and used animal skins for clothing and warmth.
The bay is named after António de Saldanha but he did not ever enter these waters. Juris van Spilbergen mistakenly named it Saldanha Bay in 1601. He thought that he had reached Cape Town. It was originally named Agoada de Saldanha but the Dutch claimed ownership, however, the French also visited often.
Colonizing Nations would claim land by planting a post in the ground and declaring ownership. One of these posts can be seen near Geelbek claiming the land for the VOC, however, European settlement was limited by the lack of fresh water. Langebaan Lagoon is a saltwater lagoon.
The French used one of the 5 islands in the area, Schaapeneiland now administered by the West Coast National Park. They used the area to store whale oil and seal hides. they called it “Isle à la Biche” Other islands were used for smallpox quarantine hospitals and for the sealing and guano industries.
Langebaan has an interesting history Two sea battles took place here by the Confederate States of America’s Alabama, in 1863, which was the most feared warship of its day There were various battles for ownership of the islands too.

The village was founded in 1870 on the farm Geitenmelksfontein (goat’s milk fountain). The name Langebaan (Long Track is believed to be from the long winding road behind the sand dunes. The first person to settle here, built a cottage at the edge of the lagoon was William Smith, a British sailor. Some of his descendants still live in Langebaan today.

Today the town is residential and no industry is allowed in the area.


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Things to see and do in Langebaan:

  • To explore the area on classic motorcycles please visit African Dream Motorcycle Adventures
  • The Postberg trail is only open once a year between August and September for wildflower season.     022 772 2144/5
  • Langebaan attracts kiteboarding enthusiasts from all over the world. Main Beach is one of South Africa’s favorite kiteboarding spots,
  • Langebaan Lagoon is a protected natural wetland and a Ramsar site.  It is an ideal birdwatching You may see flamingos, oystercatchers, gulls, and other rare water birds.

Useful Numbers

  • Police: 022 707 5140/ 022 703 6440
  • Municipality Moreesburg 022 433 8400
  • Traffic department:0227036100
  • Vehicle registration 022 707 5015
  • Fire: 0227017061
  • Water:
  • Electricity:
  • Ambulance:10177 private
  • Post office;022 772 2710
  • Library: 022 707 5030
  • Closest hospital;
    Life West coast private hospital Vredenberg 022 719 1030
    Seabreeze medical centre langebaan 022 772 1606
  • Pharmacy;022 772 2470
  • SPCA:West coast SPCA 022 289 0998 Langebaan animal care
  • Schools:Longacres private school 022 772 0302
    Curro langebaan independentschool 022 772 0116
  • Sea rescue 082 9905966
  • Museum;
  • Tourism; 022 772 1515
  • Ratepayers Association:082 889 0685
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