Today the town of Stormsvlei is more like a cluster of buildings next to the N2 highway between Riviersonderend and Swellendam. For more than 200 years, however, its position at a major junction on the Old Cape Wagon Route made it an important stopover for travellers.

In order to keep the ships of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) supplied with meat, the officials in command at the Castle of Good Hope, depended on trading livestock from the indigenous tribes in the hinterland and also setting up the free burghers on loan farms to produce provisions.

The old crossing (drift) through the Zonderend Rivier, about 300 meters upstream of the present bridge, became a recognized route to the Breede River Valley for these trading expeditions.When the Sonderend River was in flood, travellers had to bide their time at the old Stormsvlei Inn which overlooked the crossing. Because of its strategic position the settlement was a hive of activity. Poor roads took their toll on wagons, carts and carriages, which had to be constantly repaired and the horses shod. Many of the owners of stopovers on the wagon route provided such services in addition to accommodation.

37 stormsvlei hotel    Stormsvlei Hotel

 Apart from the inn, a smithy, wagon-maker's shop and mill, there were also established a school, church hall, cash store, butchery, post office, and garages.

A proper new hotel (this is where the Restaurant & Farm Stall is now situated) where dances were held once a month, was built later on. The old inn, which was later designated a 'hotel', was a rambling structure that had grown haphazardly over time. In 1920 a later owner decided to give the settlement a new lease of life by building a modern hotel and at the same time boosting his lucrative off-sales business. As the nearby Riviersonderend was laid out in 1925 as a 'dry' village, anyone from Riviersonderend wanting to quench his thirst had to go to the pub at Stormsvlei,which was also known as Stokkiesbaai.

In 1955 the hotel was bought by Jimmy Blackenberg. He was married to Mitzi, an Austrian. They had four daughters, Emmie, Mary, and twins Erica & Monica. When Jimmy died 10 years later, Mitzi - or Tant (Aunt) Mietjie as she was known by then - ran the hotel all by herself for the next twenty years and in time would become a legend. Jimmy & Mietjie's middle daughter Mary, and her husband Willem Spies took over the hotel in 1985. Ten years later the hotel ceased to provide accommodation, but retained its off-sales outlet.

Mary Spies' passion for flowers, in particular hydrangeas, led to the production of her uniquely dried and popular Country Flowers. Some of her products are available for sale by the current owners in the Farm Stall. The lovely show garden that Stormsvlei Restaurant boasts, is also Mary and Willem's heritage.

Stormsvlei history courtesy of Annelize Mouton: (Village Life Magazine)