Travel and a bit of shopping
First published in Public Sector Manager, February 2019
Contrary to its name the town of Dullstroom in Mpumalanga is everything but dull. This small town is probably primarily known for its fly fishing, not only in streams and rivers, but often in well-stocked trout dams.
Like Greyton and Stanford in the Overberg and Clarens and Parys in the Free State, Dullstroom is a quaint breakaway for couples, families and groups of friends.
Dullstroom boasts a whiskey bar, Wild about Whiskey, that has the second largest whiskey menu in the world and the largest whiskey menu in the southern hemisphere; they have 45 set tastings on offer and apart from whiskey there are also tastings of gin, brandy, cognac, rum and tequila.
The Clock Shop, with its own factory, has the largest selection of clocks in one shop in the southern hemisphere. Apart from manufacturing they also import their own range of clocks. There are thousands of designs awaiting you in the shop including cuckoo clocks, grandfather clocks and antique clocks.
You can also visit Dullstroom Bird of Prey & Rehabilitation Centre, the Anvil Ale Brewery, more than a handful of restaurants and pubs, and go on hikes and horse trails.
So where did Dullstroom get its name?
In the 1880s Paul Kruger undertook to encourage and finance Dutch emigration to South Africa. As a result of this Dullstroom was established by Wolterus Dull, a Dutch merchant.
The latter part of the name of the town actually refers to the Crocodile River that has its origin here. To this day Dullstroom is the only place in South Africa where beech and elm trees grow. These trees were originally planted by the Dutch colonists.
The postmaster of Lydenburg (a town about 53 kilometres from Dullstroom) was the person responsible for introducing trout to the district. He brought fingerlings to Dullstroom in the early 1900s.
One of the best places to try your hand at fly fishing is at Walkersons Hotel and Spa, a luxury lodge reminiscent of a Scottish country manor. This establishment is situated a few kilometres out of Dullstroom.
Apart from fly fishing for rainbow trout in one or more of the fourteen lakes and dams on the property there are paved paths for lazy strolls or for more strenuous walks or jogs.
Dullstroom is one of the coldest villages in South Africa and it is often covered in a blanket of mist. This makes for atmospheric walking and whimsical photos. No wonder then, that Dutch settlers called Dullstroom ‘the place of eternal mist’.
I chose to forego fly fishing as one needs coordination for that and I was last in the queue when co-ord was dished out. I was also far too lazy to go for any kind of walk. I blamed it on the weather! I opted for a glass of sherry – followed by another – in front of a cosy fire in my room at Walkersons. Given the weather, many establishments have fireplaces in their rooms or public areas.
One of my travel partners opted to learn how to fly fish though, as an ardent animal lover, she was terrified that she might actually catch something. A passionate – and patient – fly fishing guide soon got her going yet managed – we’ll never know if this was intentionally or not – to ensure that she didn’t hook anything at all. She was much relieved.
Staying at Walkersons Hotel and Spa means that you can head to Peggy’s Bar to boast about the one who got – or didn’t get – away.
When you tire of the conversation in Peggy’s Bar – or you’ve done your share of bragging – you can make your way to the Flying Scotsman restaurant. Four-course food and wine pairings are de rigueur here.
Back in the hamlet of Dullstroom you can relive your childhood with a chocolate nut sundae at Udderlicious Milkshake Bar, tuck into trout dishes or a pie at The Historical Rose Cottage or a mince jaffle at The Farm Stall, and buy some trout to take home at Milly’s Country Trout Stall and a bag of oranges or avos from a street seller at a corner of the Main Road.
You can also browse for books, including Africana and collectibles, and cigars and pipes at The Smoky Owl. On your wanderings you will encounter a bead shop, a rock shop and a knife shop. Not to mention The Village Angler known as ‘friendly fly fishing specialists’ and Tipsy Trout, the liquor store.
The Old Transvaal Inn offers a licensed restaurant and accommodation; they also have Polly Potter’s Toy Store and an old-fashioned sweet shop called Bert’s on the premises. It’s hard to resist the nougat, truffles, chocolates, coconut ice, marshmallows and toffee apples displayed in wood and glass counters.
What am I saying? It’s hard not to return to Dullstroom once you have experienced the charm of this picturesque town for the first time.
For more information:
For accommodation including weekend stays and fly fishing: www.walkersons.co.za
For whiskey tasting: http://wildaboutwhisky.com/
Interested in birds? Go to: www.birdsofprey.co.za
Feel like a beer? Go to: www.anvilbrewery.com