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Up the West Coast to Darling, darling

Evita se Perron, a restaurant/ cabaret bar owned by South African comedian Pieter-Dirk Uys and home to his cabaret performances as Evita Bezuidenhout, his alter ego. Image: Sharief Jaffer / Gallo Images

It comes easy – off to Darling, darling! Whether for a day trip or weekend getaway, the dorpie is about an hour’s drive up the R27 from Cape Town. Or up the N7 with a turn at Malmesbury. Or on the back roads via Atlantis and Mamre.

From Cape Town, put on a favourite soundtrack or whatever is the current fancy, and before the last track has played along the R27, the four giant renewable energy windmills of Darling are on the horizon.

It’s old dairy and butter land – and wine estates.

Where to visit

Darling perhaps is even better known as the HQ for Tannie Evita Bezuidenhout. The Covid-19 lockdown exacted a toll like everywhere, skatties, and ownership of Evita se Perron has moved on from Tannie in a friendly baton change. With the eased lockdown restrictions, Pieter-Dirk Uys has returned to the stage, with the deli, outside craft displays and the bookstore that make up Evita se Perron.

Most recently at the Perron, fine-dining restaurant Kossie Sikelela opened its doors. Chef Henti van der Merwe does what’s described as a “modern interpretation of traditional South African flavours”. It’s a must taste bud-tickler experience, all served up with warm West Coast friendliness Friday through Sunday from noon. Inside or on the stoep amid boere-baroque. Booking is essential.

Darling, Western Cape, South Africa. Popular television and stage persona Evita Bezuidenhout, ambassador to the fictitious black homeland of Bapetikosweti and alter ego of actor Pieter-Dirk Uys, performing at “Evita se Perron” in Darling. Image: Steve Bailey / Gallo Images
South Africa. Darling, Western Cape. Evita se Perron, theatre located at the old Darling station, where satirist comedian Pieter-Dirk Uys has created a tourist attraction and theatre venue. Image: Maryann Shaw / Gallo Images
South Africa. Darling, Western Cape. Evita se Perron, theatre located at the old Darling station, where satirist comedian Pieter-Dirk Uys has created a tourist attraction and theatre venue. Interior of the restaurant. Image: Maryann Shaw / Gallo Images
Darling Sweet Toffee. Image: Supplied

If curious about toffees, Darling Sweet not only tempts with a gazillion flavours, but also offers a look-see at how the toffee is made.

The Darling Wine Shop shows off local wines and Darlington gin. The Darling Brew Tasteroom offers anything from a Bone Crusher to Rogue Pony Ale. And olive tasting is available a pit’s throw out of town.

South Africa, Swartland Wine Route, West Coast. Groote Post Winery, built in 1706. Approx 16 kms outside of Darling. View of the winery with slave bell from across the duck pond. Image: Maryann Rivers-Moore / Gallo Images
South Africa, Swartland Wine Route, West Coast. Groote Post Winery, built in 1706. Approx 16 kms outside of Darling. Entrance to the building with pathway flanked by lavender bushes. Image: Maryann Rivers-Moore / Gallo Images
South Africa, West Coast Wine Route, Darling Cellars, Cape. The old name on this building says Mamreweg Wynkelder Ko-op Bpk. Right next to Darling Cellars is the Mamreweg station / siding. Image: Maryann Rivers-Moore / Gallo Images
South Africa, West Coast Wine Route, near Darling. Close-up of rows of wooden wine barrels in Cloof Estate Cellar. Cloof Pinotage 2003. Image: Maryann Rivers-Moore / Gallo Images
West Coast, Western Cape, South Africa. The Darling Museum, Darling, which is situated in the old Town Hall. Image: Media 24 Pty Ltd / Gallo Images

At the local museum Darling’s dairy and butter legacy is on display with agricultural equipment alongside the finery of small-town life of yesteryear.

Darling-area wine can be tasted at Ormonde Monday to Saturday and Darling Cellars, a little outside the dorpie just past Duckitt Nursery, from whose website orchids are just a click away. Groote Post and Cloof are just a little further away.

Flowers at West Coast National Park on August 16, 2021 in Cape Town, South Africa. The blooming Postberg Section is currently open to all nature lovers and would close again on September 30 with the end of the park’s peak flowering season. (Photo by Gallo Images/Misha Jordaan)
(Photo by Gallo Images/Misha Jordaan)
(Photo by Gallo Images/Misha Jordaan)
(Photo by Gallo Images / Nardus Engelbrecht)
(Photo by Gallo Images/Misha Jordaan)

Where to stay

When the bougainvillea bloom, Darling Lodge guest house. Image: Marianne Merten
At Kossie Sikelela, lunching on the stoep. Image: Marianne Merten
A Darling street. Image: Marianne Merten

If staying over for a weekend getaway, the Darling Lodge Guest House is it. Relax in the meandering garden or soak up the sun at the decked pool. A cossie, book – check out the guesthouse library – and local goodies make a perfect afternoon. Hosts Stephan and Oliver are super friendly, ready to share tips on trips and sights. And the breakfast is generous. Tailor-made guided tours are always a possibility.

Take a detour

South Africa, Swartland Wine Route, Western Cape. Near Darling Cellars and Cloof Estate Winery. View of wheatfields with flock of birds in the sky and hills in the distance. Image: Maryann Rivers-Moore / Gallo Images
Windmills in Darling. Image: Marianne Merten

Darling is the base to explore the West Coast National Park, Langebaan and Paternoster, which all are within an easy drive. And mountain bike trails are available nearby.

One thing still on the to-do list is the !Khwa ttu San Heritage Centre, just off the R27. But much distracts en route, from the Weskus padstal offering not only a car wash, but also “bikers’ breakfast”, to Yzerfontein’s Rosemead artisan bakery.

A short and easy hop north of Cape Town, it really is darling, Hello Darling! DM/ML

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