Take a closer look at the hand-painted murals in the Cape Grace reception and Signal Restaurant and you will find they depict scenes of 17th century Table Bay, with ships arriving at the newly constructed refreshment station at the Cape.
In 1657, it took the trading ships of the Dutch East India Company (VOC), three months to sail from their eastern headquarters in Batavia (Jakarta, Java) to Cape Town, en-route back to the Netherlands. But this was little compared to the total 8 month sea journey that Company men had to endure when taking up their three to five year posts in the East.
There was some reluctance to stop at the Cape in the early years following the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck in 1652, because apart from the danger of wreckage from gale-force north-westerly winds, crews were compelled to help build the fort, leaving no time for recuperation or revelry.
The sailors much preferred life in the bustling metropolis of Batavia, because for one, there were barely any women in the Cape.
In 1658 the following census was recorded at the Cape Colony:
|Dutch women and children||20|
An engaging social history about individuals who populated the Cape since 1652 is chronicled in the exceptional museum at the 320-year-old Solms Delta wine estate in Franschhoek. The museum has an authentic atmosphere, with displays housed in the original wine cellar dating back to 1740, a few yards from an excavated Later Stone Age settlement, and the exposed foundations of a 1680s hunting lodge.