Situated at the mouth of the Bergrivier, dates back to 1850 when Carl Stephan set up a trading station here. The ship ‘Alabama’ would be loaded with goods to be sent to Cape Town. On arrival there the slaves off loading the ship would welcome it with the folk song “Daar kom die Alabama”. More about this and the fact that the town sent the most men to the 1914 World War of any town in South Africa, per capita, can be found at the South African Sea Fisheries Museum, housed in one of Carl Stephan’s sheds in the grounds of the Laaiplek Hotel. On Heritage Day in September the museum arranges a “Makietie” to celebrate our diverse heritage.
The harbour at Laaiplek is home to one of two dry docks in South Africa where wooden hulled fishing boats are maintained and refurbished. The harbour is also abuzz with light industries, eateries and curio shops.
The waterslides on the beachfront give relief in the hot summer months for the more intrepid.
The Bergrivier is a tidal river and provides an ideal space for a variety of birds that feed on the tidal mud plains and is declared an IBA (Important Birding Area) by BirdLife SA. Cormorants settle on the river to roost at night, and arrive in large flocks of up to 50,000 birds in the winter months - a truly spectacular sight as they skim above the water.
Follow the Bergrivier upstream and notice the fish factory, the jetties at ‘Rooibaai’, the water way entrance to Port Owen, the old fish factory now known as Pelican Harbour and eventually arrive at the Carinus Bridge in Velddrif, opened in 1955.