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Mossel Bay
17th Jan 2021
Community & Living Nature & Nurture Tourism & Travel

THE POORT – THE BEST BATHING PLACE IN SOUTH AFRICA

The story of Mossel Bay’s rich heritage and history cannot be told without mentioning the Poort, the world-renowned natural tidal pool at the Point. In an article entitled “The Swimming Gulleys, Caves and Stone Buildings: The Enchantment of Mossel Bay” by Dr. T Potgieter, in collaboration with Pieter van Reenen of Heritage Mossel Bay, Dr. Potgieter wrote that the rock formations below the St. Blaize Cave, “including the natural swimming gulley known as the Poort, had their origins about 450 million years ago when the largest sand deposit on earth was deposited in the southern part of South Africa. The magnificent rock formations and gulleys visible at the Point and further along the Mossel Bay coastline are the result of the eventual solidification of the sand into sandstone, the subsequent formation of rock layers and folds through immense natural pressure, further sediment deposits and erosion over hundreds of millions of years.” In a brochure (title unknown) on Mossel Bay c. 1905-1910 it is written that “ten minutes’ walk from the township is the best bathing-place in South Africa, naturally formed in the rocks, under regulations permitting certain hours for males and females, free.” In her PhD thesis,* Dr. H M Scheffler writes that the regulations came into effect on 26 April 1882. Women could bathe there for the first time from 7:30 am to 2 pm. Men could swim outside these hours. Swimming was not allowed after 13:00 on a Sunday. The bath house was reserved exclusively for the ladies and kept under lock otherwise. Nude bathing was banned officially in 1892 when it was decreed that swimming in the area between the Point and Munro Bay without a proper bathing costume was not allowed. This did not apply to swimming at De Bakke. (*Die Laat-Victoriaanse Mosselbaai 1870-1902, Stellenbosch University; Photograph 3 with acknowledgement to www.swimhistory.co.za).

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