The Scottburgh region offers KwaZulu-Natal South Coast tourists a wide selection of things to see and do. The area boasts several golf courses, two of which are rated amongst the best in South Africa. Divers and spearfishermen will find the world-renowned Aliwal Shoal an irresistible attraction.
Accommodation and eateries are numerous and varied, ranging from B & B accommodation, self-catering accommodation, guest houses, lodges, hotels and various caravan and camping sites.
Scottburgh also boasts one of the finest bathing beaches along the entire coastline.
The Scottburgh area is rich in history too. The Mpambanyoni River, for example, was named by King Shaka of the Zulus. It is said that while resting on its bank with a regiment of soldiers, Shaka was fascinated by the myriad of birds nesting among the reeds and, wondering how each pair could possibly find its nest, he coined the name Mpambanyoni which translates into “the confuser of birds”.
During the early 1800s adventurous soles drifted down from Durban, exploring both the coastline and hinterland. With the passing of time and the discovery that Natal had the ideal climate for growing sugar cane, the area was gradually populated. One major influx was a contingent of Byrne Settlers who arrived via Durban in 1850 from Liverpool, England. Among them came the Crookes brothers, Charles and Samuel, whose progeny remain local ‘Sugar Barons’ to this day.
Named after Sir John Scott, the then Lieutenant-Governor of Natal, Scottburgh was laid out during 1860 and became the first substantial town south of Durban. Other towns and villages in this region include:
A few kilometres off Scottburgh lies the world renowned dive site The Aliwal Shoal, so named for the barque ‘Aiwal’ that was almost wrecked there during a stormy day in 1849. Measuring 1,5km long by 1km wide it is a fossilised sand dune of sponges and hard and soft coral, offering a variety of wreck and other breathtaking dives. For the adventurous there is ‘Raggie Cave’, where you can glide cheek by jowl amid numbers of large ragged-tooth sharks.
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Like several towns and villages along the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast that derived their names from rivers, farms and farmers, Park Rynie was named after Renetta ‘Rynie’ Hoffman, wife of the original farm owner. Perhaps, in this case, the name of the stream running through the farm – the uMtshitshiwana, meaning “the streamlet of young girls” in Zulu – was too much of a tongue-twister to get the nod. Abutting the southern end of the Park Rynie village is a craggy promontory called Rocky Bay which was the site of a whaling station during World War I.
Today it features a caravan park, log cabin chalets, a good restaurant and sheltered launching for local fishing boats.
Just a few kilometres inland from Park Rynie, the town of Umzinto takes its name from the MzintoRiver that snakes its way through the area. Like many a place along this coastal paradise, Umzinto grew up out of the burgeoning sugar industry and boasted KwaZulu-Natal’s first publicly owned sugar company in 1858 – the same year the first indentured Asiatic labourers arrived in South Africa.
With the commissioning of a new Umzinto Sugar Mill in 1861 the town fast became a bustling hub of activity, even staging regular horse racing in the early 1870s which drew festive crowds and punters from up and down the coast.
Today’s Umzinto has lost none of its early hustle and bustle and while the old sugar mill has moved on it still remains a thriving commercial centre.
Kelso was named after the Scottish town of the same name by Henry Cooke, one of the original mid-1800 Byrne settlers. The Mzinto River borders its southern side and was the site of a mini gold rush during the 1860s. The river also acted as a transport conduit, ferrying sugar cane down from Umzinto to larger boats anchored off the river mouth.
While considerable development is on the cards for this area, except for a caravan camp site, a charming right-on-the-beach restaurant, a small store and a few residential properties, Kelso and its wonderful beach are as unspoilt as it was in days of yore.
On the southern bank of the Mzinto River lies the quiet forested hamlet of Pennington. The village derived its name from the original farm owner who was killed in 1865 by a leopard he himself had wounded. Pennington was survived by sons James and John who developed a successful wagon building and coastal transport business.
Shaka is said to have given Sezela its name. While encamped there with a group of his warriors on the bank of the Malangeni River – so named after the Zulu clan resident in that region at the time – there was a cagey old crocodile that was believed by all to be an evil spirit. Legend had it that this crocodile could ‘smell out’ its victims no matter where they dared ford the river. Riled by this, Shaka sent out men to track down and kill this crocodile and when they did its Zulu name iSezela – “the one who smells out” – became the name of the river and the region.
Today the community of Sezela centres round a busy sugar mill with its own sweet smell of success.
One of the original 1850 Byrne Settlers from Liverpool and a qualified engineer, John Bazley first camped in a tent alongside the Lovu River in 1852. Later he purchased a 240 hectare estate south of Sezela which he named ‘Nil Desperandum’. There, in the fertile soil, he grew sugar cane, built his own sugar mill and farmed successfully with his seven burly sons.
Overflowing with enthusiasm and possessing the drive and ability to get things done, John Bazley built roads, various other public works and eventually became a larger-than-life personality along the entire length of the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast.
The area was later named in his honour and today’s Bazley offers holiday-makers, caravaners and campers a wonderful swimming beach with safe rock pools for toddlers and some interesting coastal forest walks for birdwatchers.
Here is another place along South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal South Coast named by Shaka, King of the Zulus. Gazing out over the expansive lagoon with the river merging into the sea, Shaka called it Fafa – Zulu for “the place of the sparkling water”.
For today’s holidaymakers, Ifafa offers wonderful beaches, a secure tidal pool and excellent conditions for both surf- and spearfishing. Just a short drive inland the area also boasts several good bass fishing dams where rods and boats can be hired.
This tranquil seaside hamlet offers almost total seclusion from the outside world. Here you can stroll along uncluttered beaches, search for shells, wind your way through coastal forest, or simply contemplate life while sitting on the rocks waiting for fish to bite.
Named after a local tree which bark is still used as a natural remedy for the treatment of dysentery, Mtwalume was the scene of one of KwaZulu-Natal’s early gold rushes. It occurred during 1868 when George Robert Parsons discovered traces of gold in the river. Hoping for rich pickings adventurers flocked to the area, but most without a great deal of success. In fact, over the next two years, only 567 grams of the golden metal were panned as the rush became a trickle and eventually dried up.
The only substantial gold remaining today is the golden sand of the beaches enjoyed by locals and visiting holidaymakers, caravaners and deep sea fishermen who launch their boats off the beach.