The Drostdy Museum reflects the official history of the district, in its transformation from a Dutch East India Company Outpost, to a prosperous town. Nearby, Bontebok National Park is home to the Cape Mountain Zebra, 126 bird species, exquisite flora and the Bontebok antelope. Marloth Nature Reserve is a botanist's dream with an abundance of flowers and fynbos.
The town is known as a horse rider's paradise. Guests can enjoy outdoor activities such as cycling, 4 wheel drive tours, gliding and microlighting during their South Africa holiday. In season, Whale watching can be done from the air, flying from the local airstrip, or viewing from various vantage points along the coast.
Also close by is De Hoop Nature Reserve. This is a unique reserve with 7 distinct ecosystems. The De Hoop vlei is a sanctuary for waterfowl and other birds. It is an excellent spot to view Southern Right Whales from July to December.
Swellendam is surrounded by wineries. So get a map and take a drive out into the country where you will be able to stop at almost any farm where you can eat lunch or picnic, and of course, drink their wine and enjoy a relaxing South Africa holiday. Also, you will get an opportunity to explore the town.
Essentially a Cape Dutch building, except it no longer has the façade gable. The original Drostdy was a small T-shaped building with a front gable. Between 1812 and 1825 the Drostdy was extensively renovated and enlarged to almost twice its original size.
The Drostdy was the most important building in the town for many years. The furniture at the Drostdy depicts the different styles that were fashionable in this district throughout the building's history as an official residence.
While the original garden, vineyard and orchards of the Drostdy must have created the impression of a stately manor on a farmland estate, the corner plot is all that remains. As a reminder of the injustices of slavery, slave bells are found on the grounds of most old colonial homesteads.
The formal displays are used to exhibit special objects and collections. The first room contains a permanent exhibition of old photographs of Swellendam and some unique pieces of commemorative silverware.
Zandrift existed from about 1757 and that it was altered in about 1769. During the next hundred years the basic structure of the house was not altered much. The only addition conforming to the general plan was a bedroom that was built at the end of the front wing.
Zanddrift was last occupied permanently in the 1950s, 25 years before it was offered to the Drostdy Museum. It had deteriorated seriously during that time, but has been restored and is part of Swellendam's rich heritage.
Built sometime between 1853 and 1855, Mayville reflects a transitional style of architecture with a combination of Cape Dutch and Cape Georgian details. Because new trends tended to take some time to reach the country areas, the building is quite old fashioned for its time.
Since farming was the chief occupation in this region, self-sufficiency was necessary to survive and the new settlers had to feed and clothe themselves and make their own furniture and household necessities. 'Ambagswerf' means trade yard.
The trades represented here were practiced in Swellendam in the early years of white settlement. It was here that provisions were purchased and repairs to wagons and other equipment were made. The Ambagswerf is not the recreation of an historical site, but rather a convenient means to exhibit these trades.
Built shortly after the Drostdy and was originally a simple, long building with lean-to cells at the rear. Enlarged in 1790, and again in 1813, judicial procedure was very primitive and torture was freely used, especially when interrogating slaves.
The 2 cells in the north-western corner are open for visitors, although the whipping post which once stood in the centre of the yard no longer exists. Corporal punishment was often administered.