Leipoldtville is a suburb of Graafwater and the distance from Graafwater to Leipoldtville is 19 kms.
Graafwater is, sort of, in the middle of nowhere. Or in the poetic middle of the Sandveld, whichever way you choose to look at it. If you need a better indication than the above, it is 300 kilometres from Cape Town. This means that Graafwater is roughly halfway between Clanwilliam and Lambertsbaai.
It is where time feels as if it’s standing still, in a good way. This is where you break away from it all, where you contemplate life, where you search, and find, the meaning of it all. Either again or anew.
Graafwater means ‘water from a spade’, a term the Afrikaans farmers would use at the time when this town was established.
Now be careful – if you forget one ‘a’ of ‘graaf’ it no longer means ‘spade’ but the meaning changes to ‘grave’. You’d be referring to a watery grave then. And as it is the district of Graafwater does not have much water, or rain. This is evident in the veld as you steer your car’s nose to Graafwater.
The town was established when the railway junction between Cape Town and Bitterfontein was built in 1910. After a few years the Graafwater Dutch Reformed Church formed its own congregation in the town.
The Graafwater Hotel, unassuming from the outside, offers a pleasant surprise. The rooms are neat and clean; the bar offers a great opportunity to meet locals including a handmade furniture entrepreneur and a pet pig that waddles in looking for Niknaks and beer, preferably in that order. A tabby cat or two stretches out a paw or three on the bar counter and behind the hotel two boerbokke called Ella and Bella await their daily snacks.
The Heerenlogement is a cave, and national museum, less than thirty kilometres outside of Graafwater. Heerenlogenment means the Master’s Lodging House. In days gone by the cave was used as a stopover for indigenous people but it is said that Simon van der Stel and his party also spent some nights here when they were looking for copper. So did the explorer Olaf Bergh and the mountain pass engineer Andrew Geddes Bain.
Have a look at the cave then, but you are far better off spending the night in the Graafwater Hotel bar with its cowboy swing doors.
Although Leipoldtville is a mere 40 kilometers from Clanwilliam and 27 kilometres from Lambertsbaai not too many people know of the existence of this town that was established over a century ago, in 1905.
If the name of Leipoldt(ville) rings a bell it is because the town was named after Reverend C.F. Leipoldt who was a Dutch Reformed (NG Kerk to you and me) minister in Clanwilliam from 1884 to 1910. He is not known for his ministry though but instead that he was the father of the Afrikaans poet and food fundi, C. Louis Leipoldt. (Read more about the father and son in: Leipoldt’s Food & Wine by C. Louis Leipoldt)
Reverend Leipoldt used to sleep in a room at Leipoldt’s Country Retreat when he came to Leipoldtville for communion. Leipoldt’s Country Retreat is on the farm Modderfontein and it has guest units as well as The Warthog Pub and Restaurant.
Although Leipoldtville itself does not offer much, apart from tranquillity and the friendliest inhabitants, it makes for an ideal base to explore the West Coast. Introduce your children or your city-sleeker friends to a dorpie, essentially a farming village, with sandy roads.
In the town of Leipoldtville the building that houses the general dealer (no daily newspaper available here but friendly banter and a lovely collection of old tins – from butter rich biscuits to Illovo syrup, from liquorice allsorts to Hinds ground cloves – and unidentifiable implements) was erected in 1898. Where else will you see a washing machine as big as a small car and an old bicycle with a hairy monster perching on its back wheel in the shop window?! And a provocative Coca-Cola poster on the stoep?
Leipoldtville Garage echoes the architecture of the Algemene Handelaar – strike up a conversation with the friendly people inside; they would not want you to leave.
In fact, everyone in Leipoldtville is that friendly!