Authors: Julienne du Toit; Chris Marais
Cape Town, 2007
Hard cover, 21x25 cm, 208 pages, throughout colour photos
Something magical happens to your head when you start packing for a seaside holiday.
And when you crest that hill after a long journey, the brightest light bulb in the car shouts, „There’s the sea!”
And everyone goes gaga: it’s buckets and spades and The Summer of ’42 and Beach Party and sunburnt noses and stolen snogs behind the rocks all over again.
Now the rush is on for a patch of ground along the 3.000-odd kilometre coastline of South Africa. Everyone seems to want to live by the sea.
Authors Chris Marais and Julienne du Toit went to the South African beach in the spring of 2005.
They stayed there for more than two months, travelling the entire course of South Africa’s coastline from Alexander Bay to Kosi Bay.
Coast to Coast celebrates the seaside South Africa they found. Join them on a pictorial journey covering the whole coastline.
Along the way, the authors dig into history and legend, meet all sorts of colourful coast-dwellers, and showcase slices of life in coastal towns and cities.
Their lavish photographs and lively anecdotes cover a range of seaside topics, including shark cage diving, polo estates, penguin antics, shipwrecks, whale watching, Wild Coast beach hiking, baboon management, coastal township life, and the wonders of the St Lucia Wetland complex.
Meet the people they came across. Share the good light with them. Feel the heat.
Stick your toe in both oceans, throw back your head and laugh like no one’s watching. Life is sometimes just a bowl of oysters …
Award-winning photo-journalist Chris Marais is well known for his work in Country Life and Sawubona magazines.
He has worked on assignment in more than 50 countries and is part of the pack of wanderlust journalists who love nothing better than to travel with a camera and an open mind.
Having won top South African awards for magazine editing, investigative journalism, travel writing and photography, he now fully indulges his love for the southern African region, its wilderness and its people.
South African Julienne du Toit has built an international reputation in the world of environmental journalism. In 2002, this award-winning editor of Keeping Track magazine won the Africa & Middle East category in the IUCN-Reuters awards for best reporting on the World Summit for Sustainable Development. Currently specialising in southern African environmental issues and poverty relief projects, Julienne is also a lifestyle and travel writer who travels throughout the region with her photo-journalist husband Chris Marais.
More than Diamonds - Alexander Bay
Living on Sea Mist - Lichen Hill
A Frolic in Port Jolly - Springbok to Port Nolloth
Sunken Treasure - Kleinsee
Copper Country - Hondeklip Bay
Cave of Gentlemen - Heerenlogement
Mannerly Mad Geese - Lambert's Bay
Lobster & Chips - Elands Bay
West Coast Wild - Laaipiek
Fossil Footprints - Saldanha & Langebaan
Sunset Birds - West Coast Flamingos
Cape and Cape Town
Bourbon Street on Long
A Bird in Uniform - Simon's Town
Baboon Tales - False Bay
Abalone Patrol - Creature Feature
Buckets & Spades - Cape Point Route
Whale Town - Hermanus
Shark Boats - Gans Bay
Light in the Darkness - Lighthouses
Chapel by the Sea - Arniston
Whisky & Submarines - De Hoop to Port Beaufort
The Garden Route
A Vic Bay Waiter - Victoria Bay
Flowering Kingdom - Fynbos
A Woodcutter's Town - Knysna
A Matter of Style - Crags to Keurbooms
Deep in the Forest - Storms River
Supertubes - Jeffreys Bay
Calabash Nights - Port Elizabeth Townships
Buffalo City - East London
Hiking along History - Wild Coast Family Hotels
Castaway Town - PortStJohns & Beyond
Tale of the Teaspoon - Mbotyi River Lodge
Little Big Fish - Sardine Run
Zulu City - Durban
Prince of the Tidal Pool - Ballito
Turtle Beach - Greater St Lucia
Women at Work - KwaJobe
Lake People - Kosi Bay
Helicopter Dreams - Chopper Flight
The Reading Room
Up here in Alexander Bay, on the Namibian frontier, you are in a world that few people ever see. Wind-lashed beaches littered with twisted driftwood logs, the pounding onslaught of the Atlantic Ocean, the ghosts of ever-patrolling diamond cops, homing pigeons with dodgy agendas and, just in case you were hungry, the cheapest, freshest little oysters on Earth.
Alexander Bay is so very far away from the glittering windows of Tiffany's or the New York Diamond Dealers Club on West 47th Street, the Japanese jewellery houses of the Ginza in Tokyo or No. 17 Charterhouse Street in London, where more than 80 per cent of the world's diamonds pass through on their way to the ring fingers and elegant necks of lucky ladies.
And yet, the sweet little Orange River diamonds from the Alexander Bay fields have been adding a glint to lovers' eyes since the late 1920s. The area north and south of the Mother River's mouth is one of the world's treasure houses of fabulous, naturally polished high-grade diamonds. The Namas, Bushmen and Strandlopers who walked its shores centuries ago used to pick the diamonds up as they lay glinting in the sands and give them to their children as toys.
Arguably the most colourful character to have walked these ancient diamond beds was one Fred Cornell, whose prospecting nose twitched every time he ventured up into the Richtersveld. And like the copper miners who first worked here, Fred must have literally walked on diamonds without seeing them.
Imagine you're Fred back then, sitting on a lonely spot up on the Orange River, having a quiet smoke in the moonlight. Suddenly, there's the distant sound of a concertina. You go back to the campfire to discover your travelling partner being entertained by a grinning Ovambo wearing a full German colonial army uniform, right down to elastic-sided boots with spurs, heaving away merrily at his concertina, having just appeared out of the black night as if from nowhere.
With him are two youngsters, capering away to the music at the fire. Fred gives them tobacco and is mildly amused. On they play, apparently tireless. Pretty soon it's past everyone's bedtime, but still the concertina continues.
"At last I had to turn out of my blankets and go for them with a sjambok," he writes in his classic travel book. The Glamour of Prospecting. "Then only did they quit, and I turned in again. But I had got a big thorn in my foot, and when I had got that out a scorpion got into my bed, and objected to my being there. Altogether a nice, quiet, idyllic night by the river..."
The tour of the mining area (organised in advance) begins at the Alexander Bay Mine Museum. "The diamonds, washed down the Orange River, mostly lie in a sediment of fossilised oyster shells," explains the museum curator and tour guide, Helene Mostert.
"To get to this sediment, you have to go through as much as 40 metres of sand and calcrete. Then you get to the gravel on the bedrock, which bears the diamonds."
"They search for diamonds out at sea and on land here, and the divers share their profits with Alexkor," Helene says as we sign the indemnity forms.
She tells us what not to take in: no cigarette lighters, lipstick, Lip Ice, cellphones, skin cream and, of course, no pigeons. A pigeon-club scam (complete with tiny harnesses to carry smuggled diamonds) was uncovered some years ago, and these tame feathered friends are no longer welcome in Alexander Bay airspace.
Alexander Bay society used to be divided into binnekampers and buitekampers (people who lived inside the restricted area and those who were outside the fence). Before leaving the area for a weekend pass, binnekamp families and their possessions were thoroughly searched. Diamond smuggling in Namaqualand has always been as natural as truffle-sniffing in the south of France. Namaqualand is a vast, barren area of little more than 120 000 souls, a place that gets a total of 50 millimetres of rain each year. That's about equal to two or three Johannesburg thunderstorms.
"God didn't give us rain - He gave us diamonds" is the old Namaqualand philosophy. And, according to writer Pieter Coetzerin his excellent book Bay Of Diamonds, many locals openly admitted to illegally dealing in the stones. [...]