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Great Brak River – Slow living by choice

The village of Great Brak, lies along the banks of The Great Brak River alongside the N2 - 27km from Mossel Bay, 30km from George and approximately 420km from Cape Town. Situated at the confluence of the Great Brak River and the Indian Ocean, it makes for a peaceful getaway at any time of the year. Being so close to Mossel Bay, it experiences a pleasant, mild climate throughout the year.

The village of Great Brak River was founded by Charles Searle, an English paper mill hand who, together with his wife and four children, emigrated to the Cape in 1859. They landed at Mossel Bay following a sea voyage of 68 days. After a few months he was awarded the tender for Keeper of the Toll Bridge at Great Brak River which - at that stage - consisted of a toll house, a small boarding house called Ferreira's and a farmhouse on the Mossel Bay side of the river. There he began making boots as a part-time occupation but, as these found a ready market among travellers passing through his toll, he soon found he had more work than he could handle and employed his first full time boot maker.

In 1864 he lost the tender for the toll but, being reluctant to move, he purchased land behind the toll house and started up a general store. In 1865 he again won the tender for the toll and became the village's postmaster, a position the Searle family was to monopolise for the next 34 years. During that time the postal and telegraphic business of Great Brak River was conducted from the Searles' store, a portion of which was set aside for this purpose. The Searle family continued to prosper and soon expanded their business interests by erecting a boarding house known as the Temperance Hotel. The Searles were staunch abstainers and expected everyone else in the village to follow suit. From the outset, therefore, they opposed the sale of liquor and, in time, Great Brak River became known in the neighbourhood as "Prohibition Village". In 1886 a new boot factory was erected there, and the following year this was followed by a tannery. In 1893 a mule-drawn cart service was started to deliver groceries to holiday makers as well as to carry mail from Oudtshoorn and Mossel Bay to Great Brak River. The 1904 census indicated that Great Brak River had a population of 362.

Today, Great Brak River is primarily a holiday destination, where the beautiful, unspoiled beaches and lagoon offer safe swimming environments. Whilst the river that divides the village is rich in marine life, its wooded banks offer excellent opportunities for bird watching. The presence of Southern Right- and other whales from May till November is one of the town’s main attractions. Near the mouth at the southern end of the estuary is The Island residential area, which is connected to the eastern shore of the Great Brak River with a single lane steel bridge. Many timber frame holiday homes are situated in, or around the Estuary.

Great Brak offers an art route, several cycling and hiking routes, the fragrance route (lavender planted in local gardens) and a historic route (buildings built between 1852 and the mid-1930s). Follow the circular route through the village and experience the history and culture of years gone by. Other highlights in Great Brak River include a local history museum (old school house built in 1902), the Wolwedans Dam, and a restored power station dating back to the early 1900s.


Great Brak offers great accommodation & restaurants for visitors, with plenty of sporting and leisure activities. The community is alive with cultural activities, musical events and art in all its forms.

.Art Route . Beaches. Beach walks . Birding . Bowls . Cycling routes . Festivals . Fragrance route . Game viewing . Golf . Hiking trails . Fishing . Historical . Rock fishing . Squash . Tennis . Whale whatching.