Words: Kit Heathcock Images: Shutterstock & Google Maps
Durbanville may have grown out of all recognition from the small rural town of 50 years ago, but the biggest thing residents appreciate is still its village feel. “I love that I’m in the country but still close to the city, I don’t have to travel miles to get anywhere,” says resident Bernadene Heathcock. Despite the infill of leafy suburban streets and brand-new security estates that link it to the greater urban sprawl of the Northern Suburbs, Durbanville’s town centre is compact and walkable. There’s the green swathe of the racecourse behind it, parks and green belt for daily walks, while the wine farms of the Durbanville Wine Valley make a picturesque playground for weekend entertainment, whether mountain-biking, hiking, trail-running or lazy lunches and wine-tasting.
New developments are steadily expanding Durbanville’s girth into the surrounding countryside. Security estates such as Clara Anna Fontein on the Vissershoek Road, Graanendal and neighbouring Villa Cortona Retirement Village on Wellington Road, border on farmland in response to increasing demand for a country lifestyle complete with all the conveniences.
Older houses with mature trees, large gardens and swimming pools are another feature of Durbanville’s more established suburbs, along with ribbons of green belt and parks with dams and ponds. The town centre has also seen regeneration over the last few years, in particular along Oxford Street, where The Village Square shopping centre has just added a raft of desirable stores such as Woolworths Food, Sorbet, Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants, Wellness Warehouse and many more, to the eclectic mix of Durbanville’s shopping scene. “In line with the village character, the new building has been kept not too high,” says resident Alana Britz. “It’s connected the top and lower parts of town and they’ve really thought about the community with things like bicycle parking too.”
Durbanville’s excellent schools are a big part of its attraction to families, many moving here for an affordable public education. Afrikaans-medium Durbanville High School, English-medium Fairmont and duel-medium Stellenberg all have good reputations, as do the various public primary schools.
A new wave of private schools has joined them to service the growing population, including Reddam House, Curro Durbanville and El Shaddai. There’s also a large and supportive home-schooling community. A new university campus is being developed by Stadio, a subsidiary of Curro, on the Phisantekraal side of Durbanville, and is due to open in 2021.
The surrounding wine farms beckon on weekends and not just for their wine-tasting and restaurants. Kick Saturday off with the Parkrun at Meerendal Wine Estate, or join the flourishing mountain biking community on trails that run through various wine farms and Tygerberg Nature Reserve. Road cyclists enjoy the quiet back roads through rolling farmland, and there are a number of livery stables and riding schools for the active equestrian community.
The centre of Durbanville is worth exploring on foot to discover hidden gems such as Rust-en-Vrede, a historic manor house home to a gallery and clay museum, as well as various working studios and a restaurant. A thriving coffee culture enlivens the surrounding side streets – top coffee picks include Koffi Terapi, Soet Society Café, and further out Streams Café. You can also not miss Chocolat Bistro with its stunning decor and courtyard tables.
As well as the green belts and parks for daily runs and dog walks, there are two major green lungs within the town. As well as hosting several big horse-racing events a year, Durbanville Racecourse has a 6ha nature reserve preserving endangered renosterveld, and Durbanville Golf Club’s sheltered course is known as the “Jewel of the North”. Durbanville Rose Garden is also worth stopping by for its 3,5ha of scented flower beds growing 500 different rose varietals, with views towards the mountain horizon a reminder of the town’s rural origins.
We mountain bike a lot and Durbanville has wonderful mountain bike trails. It feels safe and we love being close to both the mountains and the sea.
Sharon Whall, resident
- Diemersdal Farm Eatery: farm ambience and good bistro fare
- Yumcious: Jenny Morris’ cafe with a pay-by-weight table of creative salads
- Saltwater Grill: fresh seafood, the second branch of the successful Pinelands restaurant
- Annapurna: cosy and authentic North Indian curries
- Moksh: traditional Indian food
- Tygerberg Nature Reserve for hikes and mountain bike trails
- Galileo Open Air Cinema at Meerendal Wine Estate and Willowbridge Mall
- Parkrun at Meerendal on Saturdays
- Golf at Durbanville Golf Club
- The Barnyard Theatre at Willowbridge Mall
- Rust-en-Vrede for art and ceramics exhibitions
- The Village Square new upmarket centre around Woolworths Food
- De Ville Centre Pick n Pay and Virgin Active
- Midwell Centre for Checkers
- Explore Durbanville’s side streets for independent boutiques and services
- Tyger Valley Shopping Centre for fashion and retail therapy