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Garden Route (Tsitsikamma, Knysna, Wilderness) National Park

Natural & Cultural History

Wilderness Section

“...the beauty and serenity of this corner of the world is in such conflict with its unsuitable name …” “in the Wilderness build me a nest and remain there forever at rest …” (a line from Hayden’s Creation ) was sung by a lady Theresa, to her fiancée, to escape the memory of being orphaned when her parents farm was destroyed in the frontier war.

Shelters

The Ebb and Flow shelter in the northern rest camp was excavated for guano in the 1800’s. The cave was used as a shelter and living place of Khoi and San. Two skeletons were discovered and various implements. One of the implements was described as a core scraper.

Oakhurst shelter – Stone Age People

This is one of the oldest caves excavated in the country. 40 skeletons of Khoisan (adults and infants) buried in different layers and depths were found.

Other implements found: pottery shards, hippo bones, buffalo, duiker and steenbok bones yielded information about their cultural development and diet

Historical sites

St. Aidan’s church is one of the oldest buildings in Wilderness, which was named after an Irish saint, who was part of the missionary drive to Scotland and England. The church bell was salvaged from the SS Thorne, which was wrecked in a fog off Robben Island on 18th May 1831 and presented to St. Aidan’s by the Piggott family in 1951.

The Oakhurst church was consecrated on All Saints Day in 1876 and called All Saints.

1952 Settler's Monument was erected by the Lakes Committee in Wilderness to commemorate the founding of the European settlement in South Africa on 6 April 1652.

Gericke’s Point was named by Bartholomew Diaz as “Ponta de Pescaria” meaning "place or point of fish". Today this is still a famous fishing spot as well as rocky-shore and snorkelling site.

The scenic “passes road” was completed in 1893 by Thomas Bain. This was the first substantial link between George and Knysna.

The Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe runs 67 kilometres between Knysna and George thus passing through the Wilderness Area of the Garden Route National Park. It is one of the remaining scheduled steam trains and reputably the second most beautiful line in the world.