Kalk Bay Beach Outing during the 1970s

While I was travelling to work along Boyes Drive the other morning, I stopped along the roadside to take a picture of Kalk Bay Harbour. There were a few clouds streaking the sky and the sea was an inky blue – an amazing vista.

Kalk Bay Harbour
Kalk Bay beach and the tunnels
There in the distance where the railway line snakes past the harbour, I could see about three of the ‘camper tunnels’ peeping out.  Kalk Bay beach with its tunnels was the place to be during the festive season when we were children. That was the closest beach we could travel to because Muizenberg and St James beaches were reserved for whites under the Apartheid laws. Kalk Bay was thus the beach where the whole of Cape Town would descend to wash down all the farm loads of meat and other Christmas Lunch fare on Boxing Day.  However, we wouldn’t go on Boxing Day. Our parents would choose one of the days between Christmas and New Year's Day  – that way we could get ourselves ready for the BIG trip.
Preparation for the beach trip
 It was an operation to organize a day trip to the beach during those days . Firstly, you had to make sure you had hessian ,poles, spade and hammer for the tent that you were going to construct. Then you needed a few cake tins to house the dozens of eggs and Vienna or ham sandwiches that had to go with. Next you needed blankets, towels,  Oros  cooldrink and the Rivierra Sweets hamper. All the adult liquid refreshments – including the huge 6-bottle Liberstein bottles – would come along with Aunty Milly who travelled in her hired black Valiant Taxi. That aunt of mine was the classy one and she refused to travel by train. Her hair and outfit – not quite your beach attire – deserved more than the third class train journey. No wind and mismatched loads of camp stuff and their owners were going to wreck her look!

Typical 'beach day' food in the 70s for us
Anyway, the whole house would be abuzz with all the excitement for the beach outing. Then early the next morning – probably about 5h00  – we would walk to the station to catch the train. All of us would be heavily laden with all the paraphernalia, taking a short cut through the veld to the train station. My siblings and I would fight about our loads all the way to the station, while being threatened by our parents that they would cancel the outing if we did not stop. That would momentarily silence us, until one of us started feeling the strain and the complaints would then start afresh. Only on the train with its lime-green hard seats though, could we rid ourselves of the luggage. Then when you arrived at Kalk Bay station, you would again have to walk until you got to those tunnels where the family makeshift tent would be pitched. Often, I regretted being so excited because of all the schlep to get to the beach. However, once we were there, all misery vanished!

  The experience
The rest of the day  at Kalk Bay is a warm, hazy memory. All I remember is that we would stuff ourselves with the boiled eggs and swim in the shallow waters with our homemade bathing costumes. Those bathing costumes deserve a post of its own. Suffice to say, by midday, one of your thighs would be more exposed than the other because of ‘material-creep’. Thank goodness we were too young to care. We would clamber up the slipway, build sandcastles and then just eat and drink as if there was no tomorrow. By the time we had to trudge back to the station the evening, we were heavily sunburnt, our hair would be one mass of tangled locks and our Dad would have donned his gold-rimmed sunglasses. We would then walk all the way back home, down the same footpath in the veld and no-one would have a problem retiring early that night.

As sisters, our biggest worry was always the hair washing ritual that was awaiting us the next day – with our bodies firmly clutched between our Mom’s knees and her tug-o-war with the bushy tails.
Those were the good ol’ days…

Kalk Bay Mountains

In the south-western corner, you can see the multi-storeyed flats where most of the original Kalk Bay families and fishermen live

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