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Magical McGregor

by Joey Volschenk in November 2011 - Travel Circle

There is no debating why Cape Town is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. Year after year international visitors flock to various regions to enjoy our sunny weather, hospitality, breathtaking scenery, arts and entertainment and the taste of all things local. We recently discovered all the above in an enchanting little village with locals Jimmy and Anne Binos as our guides.

Situated in the Breede River Valley, just outside Robertson, lies the small picturesque and charming village called McGregor. Although there is a general misperception that ‘small’ means ‘boring’, rest assured this town is by no means dull or uneventful. McGregor is truly a gem in the heart of the luscious mountainside and blooming countryside. This village thrives with an abundance of art, entertainment, cuisine and relaxing retreats. Its variety of cultures, the historical legacy and the friendly greetings of locals invites anyone and everyone to pull up a chair, take a stroll along the main road or to explore close-by farms.

One thing is for certain, it cannot be done on an empty stomach! So make yourself comfortable and enjoy a hearty English breakfast with freshly baked bread or croissants at Carole Murby’s Deli Girls. This traditional strawbale cottage has been revamped to include a scenic garden section and a store where patrons can buy everything from healthy snacks to little odds and ends. Reasonably priced and note-worthy portioned breakfasts are just one of the treats you can enjoy while watching locals pass. For those brave at heart; an early morning Bloody Mary with a special ingredient – the Deli’s spicy horse radish – is a must try. If the local scenery is not your forte take a 2km detour to De Kaap Country Restaurant. Here owners  Aimee Wiliams and Carrick Campbell have teamed up to create an unique space, with historical artefacts adorning walls, a sunny terrace filled with long wooden tables where visitors can relax while admiring the scenery – long stretches of vineyards and mountains splashed with combinations of bright orange, purple and yellow flowers.

While on the road make it worth your while and stop at Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is home to 20 donkeys all of whom have been subjected to the harshness of humans. Guests are welcomed by Robyn as she takes them to meet each member of the family and she shares their story. Eseltjiesrus is fully funded by the donations of the public thus all visitors are encouraged to contribute as little as R50 per month – do note it is not required, but is definitely appreciated!

Another must-see spot situated just outside the village is Tanagra. This private cellar and guesthouse is owned by Anette and Robert Rosenbach. Visitors are warmly welcomed and Robert eagerly gives those interested a trip of the premises and shows them to their accommodation. The Rosenbach’s are well-known for their sociable nature; during the warm summer month’s locals and tourist gather under the famed giant wild fig tree to enjoy movies displayed on a large screen. This is not all that Tanagra has to offer, the cheerful birdlife have those interested rushing to remove binoculars and admire the species from next to the pool, the deck or even a dingy on the dam. Robert also enthusiastically gives visitors a tour of the grappa distillery while explaining the process. Both wine and grappa (flavoured and unflavoured) tastings and sales from the private boutique collection are also done on the premises. And if grappa isn’t your forte, feel free to stop in at McGregor Winery to sample the best variety of local produced wine.

When you are done exploring and the fresh air has awakened your slumbering appetite, head back to the village and settle at Mélange for a light lunch. Chef and owner, Andre Wyngaard’s picture perfect meal presentation is completely complemented by the variety of flavours and textures which each meal provides. But the proof really is in the pudding... so save a space for dessert and have a slice of freshly baked decadent orange or chocolate cake. Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too.

While you are conveniently located in Voortrekker road, leave the car behind and stretch your legs. McGregor offers an Art Route where you will find a variety of works that portray the unique nature and style of each artist. Mulberry Studio owned by Jimmy and Anne Binos displays work of some of McGregor’s emerging artists and photographers and also serves as an internet Café. While Edna Fourie’s Gallery showcases her own collection of 3-D quality oil paintings and Millstone Pottery offer guests a look at hand-made creations that suit every taste and pocket.

But the art isn’t just limited to the interior of galleries; in McGregor art is what defines the town. Original cob and adobe cottages tells the tale of a rich history and Jimmy Binos, the Chairman of McGregor Tourism, passionately explains the difference between the styles and the building process.
“In McGregor we also manufacture bricks; Paul October is the village’s brick manufacturer,” says Jimmy proudly.

After an active day, take an inspiring late afternoon stroll through the gardens of Temenos Retreat. Every path leads to something different and you are soon swept up in the magical atmosphere of statues, ponds and shrines. Eventually be sure that your journey leads you to The Well, a meditation centre, created by Billy Kennedy and Michael Petit. Upon entering, all sounds of the outside world fade away, making way for the gentle sound of the trickling fountain. Warm glowing candles and comfortable pillows and seats allow guests to find peace amidst the rush of everyday life. Rejuvenated and relaxed you can look forward to an exquisite dinner at a number of local restaurants such as the scenic Green Gables. Here owners Tiger and Jill Meyer eagerly show guests around and drinks on the terrace during a hot summer’s evening makes your dining experience all the more pleasurable.

Tebaldi’s restaurant, also a part of Temenos Retreat, offers a variety of pasta, poultry and desserts which include a rose water ice cream. While lively Andre and Kurt Middleton Le Roux welcomes guests to an intimate dining experience at Karoux. Their menu include delicacies such as deep fried brie, delectable sole, ostrich fillets and mushroom risotto – to name a few – receive a McGregor thumbs-up rating.

So if you are planning on breaking away from the buzz of the city life for a weekend or even a week, take a trip to a one of a kind destination and enjoy an adventurous and memorable stay in magical McGregor.

For more information on McGregor visit www.tourismmcgregor.co.za or contact the Tourism office on 

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