Stellenbosch, South Africa’s second-oldest town, is a university town some 50km east of Cape Town. It’s known for its stunning old oak trees, some of them planted in the 17th century, which is why it’s also known as the “Eikestad” (Town of Oaks). The town has an incredible amount of fond memories for me: this is where I attended the University of Stellenbosch between 1973 and 1976, where I met my first wife and our eldest was born, and where I taught English at the prestigious Paul Roos Gymnasium boys’ high school for 24 years. It is a wonderful old town, vibrant, atmospheric, colourful and beautiful.
The images that follow were made during a very brief visit in 2016, when I flew in from Sydney to attend the mass reunion of Old Boys (alumni) to mark the school’s 150th birthday. Words will never be able to express my gratitude to the Old Boy who so generously paid my airfare. But that’s the quality of alumnus Paul Roos produces…
This lovely old building on Ryneveld St was where the Bloemhof Girls’ High School started.
Right on the corner of Rynveld and Victoria Sts and in front of the men’s residence Wilgenhof stands this massive old eucalypt. I spent many a pleasant hour sitting on its roots and chatting with friends.
The Wilcox Building in my day housed all but two of the departments I was a student of. Afrikaans-Nederlands, English and French lectures and tutorials were all held here, so I spent most of my time either in or in front of this building. General Linguistics and German offered most of their classes in their own buildings.
The Old Main Building of the university, directly opposite the Wilcox.
The old Music Conservatory on Van Riebeeck St. I used to enjoy walking through the grounds and listening to the music students practising on their instruments.
Another favourite building from my students days, but for a different reason! The Van der Stel bottle store on Andringa St was where I bought my wine.
The Department of General Linguistics was housed in this former house on Merriman Avenue.
I rented a room in this house on De Beer St between 1973 and 1976.
The walkway behind the Administration Building wasn’t as shady in my time.
The north entrance to the Wilcox Building. Two of the ground-floor windows on the far right belong to the room which housed the Molteno Reading Room, a kind of mini-library and a resource centre for the Dept. of English where I served as supervisor in my third year.
The former C L Marais Library on Crozier St. This building housed the Dept. of Archaeology in my day. I was often tempted to switch from a languages degree to one in archaeology…
The Theological Seminary at the top end of Dorp St is where Dutch Reformed ministers are trained. A beautiful old building, like most of the town’s older structures.
Die Laan (The Avenue) runs along the northern bank of the Eerste River, and was where courting student couples used to saunter and spend romantic moments.
The entrance to the grounds of the Lanzerac Hotel on the eastern edge of town. The hotel uses most of the original buildings of the farm established here in 1692. It’s also a wine estate bottling some trule great wines.
The main building on the estate.
And from closer. Note the typical Cape Dutch architecture and the thatched roof.
A serene, shady spot for a drink on a warm day.
Stellenbosch Mountain as seen from the Lanzerac driveway.
The drive is lined with young London planes.
A typical Western Cape scene: mountains and vineyards.
Looking towards the Hottentotots-Holland mountains.