Stilbaai’s Tuin-op-die-Brak Fynbos Park, situated in Stilbaai East adjacent to Main Road that runs parallel to the river, must be on everyone’s ‘To Do in Stilbaai’ list – not only for people who are interested in plants (especially local plants), but to all visitors as there is something for everyone. Make sure you have an hour or so on your hands as there are so many interesting plants and trees to see and various different sections to discover. Follow the (wheelchair-friendly) walkways to stroll through the garden and learn about the area’s plants.
This botanical garden – it recently won the award for the most innovative project in the Western Cape – with plants characteristic of the Hessequa environment,  is now almost a decade ‘old’ and has been handed over to the local municipality in 2016. There are 280 species of plants and 200 individual trees in the park including 11 endangered plants that are on the Red Data List.
Make sure not to miss the labyrinth (an age-old geometric pattern which is typically circular with a single path which meanders around in circles to the centre of the labyrinth and out again). This one is called ‘Essence of Chartres” and anyone can walk it… make the most of it and when you get to the middle, sit down and relax and enjoy nature!
There is also an analemmatic sundial that provides lots of fun. The Stilbaai one is a horisontal sundial installed flat on the ground where your shadow, when standing on the flat date line in the correct position, will be on the curved hour line and showing the time. Try it!
The uniqueness of the park is due to the fynbos of the Hessequa region (including Stilbaai) that grows on alkaline soil as opposed to all other fynbos that grows in acidic soil. It is also interesting to note that according to recent archaeological research, the fynbos of this region aided the survival of modern humans (Homo sapiens) in an era when all of humanity was almost wiped out during an Ice Age.
The park as a whole is also specifically designed to provide a multi-sensory experience to benefit persons with disabilities – the ‘braille trail’ or ‘Touch and Smell Route’ is just perfect to experience the garden by following the rope where boards explain the plants.
There is also a man-made dune and wetland; sections showing the edible / inedible and medicinal plants and Tree of the Year section. Make sure you get to the big, old tree and have a look at its interesting trunk.
Read all the boards; learn about all the plants; sit on the benches; walk the Labyrinth; check the time; and enjoy the ‘Tuin-op-die-Brak’ experience.