Article by Riette Bryant | Photographs supplied
Because of, or in spite of, living in one of the most beautiful areas in the world, the people of Piket-Bo-Berg are a unique blend of souls who live with a spirit of true community as seldom seen. Generations of people have come and gone and come back again, new “lifestyle esquires” have moved in to share in the beauty and spirit of the surroundings. They compete, they rival, they struggle and overcome, together, yet they are all here to either form or serve this unique community that is giving renewed meaning to human relationships.
Although essentially a farming community, it encompasses all types and facets of life; one experiences an almost cosmopolitan feel about a gathering with the inhabitants of this area. True to life, the mountain has a way of spitting you out if you do not embrace your community.
A good example of the exceptional community is the team effort that goes into putting the annual Piket-Bo-Berg Cycle Challenge together.
Farmers, farm workers and the rest of the community all work together to ensure a highly professional event which traverses some of the most pristine fynbos areas and mountain paths found around the area. The 130 marshals doing duty on the day voluntarily give of their time and effort. Although a very tough race, feedback received from cyclists taking part in this event has always been on the community spirit that is present and the well organised manner in which the event is run. The event is an effort by the Piket-Bo-Residents Association to raise funds for a local school hall that can double as a community hall.
The Piket-Bo-Berg Residents Association, the umbrella organisation for the community, challenges members to take control of their own destiny by becoming involved in their community, in an organised fashion. After twelve years of involvement the community of the Piket-Bo-Berg manages their own Fire Prevention Association, locally manned Farm watch, can slot in with government driven programs by being positioned to take the advantage, organise a yearly Women’s Day, a Farmworkers Competition in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, have an internal communication system, manage the Farmers Association and infra-structure, co-ordinate the local creches, do a yearly garden competition and many more. All of this ensures a truly committed community working to the benefit of all. The history is kept alive by an annual story evening Alistair Duncan, one of the retired farmers organises for the Residence Association. On this occasion young and old get together to share in the stories of days gone by and to remember where they came from, what we have learnt and what we should not forget. The synergy from the combined community effort ensures that goals are achieved.
The best place to experience the heart and soul of the people is at the monthly Farmers Market held every last Saturday of the month on the farm Kruisementvlei. Here people of the area come together to spend some time with their neighbours more than wanting to sell their wares! It is the monthly meeting ground of the neighbourhood with the added advantage of sharing, bartering and trading the things they enjoy making, growing and producing. Visitors come in to share in the contagious country hospitality that exists here and return again and again.
Various forms of accommodation that worked mostly on word of mouth in the past has become so popular that people are now booking way ahead to ensure they get to share in this piece of paradise. Accommodation varies from luxury tented camps, camping, self-catering accommodation and some luxury stays. The website, run locally and updated regularly, keeps anyone informed of all the possibilities. Even the locals share their knowledge and information this way what flowers have been spotted to the latest bird list of who has seen what where. Horse riding, hiking trails, San Koi caves and paintings, bass fishing, star gazing and some good old chilling out opportunities are the tourist attractions in the area. The Piket-Bo-Berg Tea garden and nursery can surprise visitors with some amazing cakes and true Dutch kroketten.
Like any exceptional community, characters abound on Piket-Bo-Berg. From the rough diamond with the heart of gold, to the polished diamond with the edge of glass and a community that has overcome the divide between Boer and Brit, you experience a sense of balance that makes it a great place to spend your days. a
For more information on this amazing place, visit their website at www.piket-bo-berg.co.za