The student pilgrimage to Bathurst and Port Alfred

2018-09-04 12:00 - Gabi Zietsman
Post a comment 0
Giant pineapple building

Every Rhodes student have at least once done the pilgrimage to Bathurst and Port Alfred. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Studying in Grahamstown (soon to be Makhanda), many a student has been stricken down a few times by cabin fever, especially after the fifth trip up to the Monument or the hundredth night out to Friar's. 

If you managed to hustle someone with a car and pooled enough money together for petrol, the main day trip always involved driving through Bathurst, taking a group photo at the Big Pineapple and eventually arriving at the sunshine and beaches of Port Alfred.

WATCH: A holidaymaker's guide to SA's Sunshine Coast

The Port Alfred Road - or the R67 - has been done by almost all students at a few points during the study period, and if you haven't, could you really call yourself a Rhodent?

Trips to these two Sunshine Coast spots also sometimes coincided with big student events - namely the Ox Braai and Boat Races - two debaucherous events that had little to do with the events themselves and lots to do with a 12-pack of beer and sleeping in your car.

If you feel like capturing your youth again or want to complete your full Rhodes experience, here's an itinerary to round out a classic Bathurst and Port Alfred road trip.

ALSO SEE: Get wholesome at one of these 7 farmstalls in the Eastern Cape

Bathurst

The oldest pub in South Africa

It's hard to go through Bathurst without a stop at the Pig and Whistle Inn - the oldest licensed pub in South Africa. It was first built in 1832, and is the cornerstone of what Bathurst is today. It even has its own antique shop if you want some Bathurst souvenirs or really need to fill your home with eclectic junk.

SEE: The definitive guide to the best 20+ pub quiz spots in SA

A post shared by Samantha Dry (@samanthadry) on

Orientate yourself at the Toposcope

If you need a better sense of direction before heading onwards on your journey, the Bathurst Toposcope is another monument to the 1820 Settlers. It points to all the home countries of the settlers, which ships they came on and from where. You'll get a lovely view of the area high up on that hill, and make sure you know which direction Port Alfred is before leaving.

The nonsensical Big Pineapple

How do you get people to stop for a bit longer than a split-second? Built a giant fruit house, according to the farmers of Bathurst. The village has the world's biggest pineapple, which is basically just a hollowed-out three-storey building that includes a pineapple museum and an observation deck at the top. It's surrounded by its smaller brethren, which many a student has tried to liberate without much success.

MAP: Must-visit attractions of the Sunshine Coast


End the year off with an Ox Braai

This is the place to be if you want to satisfy your carnivorous urges. The annual Ox Braai in December is just one big party where everyone lines their stomachs with a mass braai and then dances the night away with local acts. Students descend upon it with vigour, where no one has the patience to set up a tent to sleep - your car will do just fine.

Port Alfred

A surf at East Pier

After you've had your fill of frontier history, all roads in Port Alfred lead to East Pier, where the Kowie River and the sea meet. Here you can either relax on the beach and catch some zzz's, or you could be pumping on the waves when the conditions are just right. Just be mindful of the ragged tooth sharks in the area, although they generally find Rhodes student a little too marinated for their liking.

SEE: Get gnarly at 8 of Eastern Cape's top surf spots 

Snack on pizza with a view at Guido's

When the sun, sand and salt is giving you the munchies, you can still get a great view of the ocean and river while getting your fill with a snackable wood-fired pizza at Guido's. They also have seafood on the menu if the sea air is having you crave something saltier. 

A post shared by Gary (@gazvanwyk) on

Walk around the marina

If you want to feel like part of the 1% you can take a walk through the Port Alfred Marina and gawk at the fancy yachts and fisher boats docked there. You can also have a fancier bite to eat at the Halyards Hotel, or even book a quick river cruise on their zebra-striped barge - The Spirit of Adventure.

SEE: Around the Rivers: An adventurer's guide to exploring the Sunshine Coast 

A post shared by River Hotels (@riverhotels) on

Row your worries away at Boat Races

Nine universities across the country battle it out on the Kowie River to claim the 6km rowing title. While it may sound like something just for fans of the sport, it's morphed into one of the biggest parties in Port Alfred - because what else are you going to get when students from across the country get together to support their teams from the sidelines? Like Ox Braai, it's another chance to crack your neck while sleeping in a car, because who is adult enough for a tent?

A post shared by Gerrit Pool (@jacobus_pool) on

Find Your Escape with our Traveller24 Weekly Newsletter – Subscribe here. Or download the News24 App here, to receive expertly curated travel wanderlust directly to your mobile.