Words: Kit Heathcock | Images: Natasha Lassen & Arran Graham
With its quiet, narrow, tree-lined streets, Newlands feels like a self-contained village, slightly separate from the city and several shades greener, with the mountain and Newlands Forest functioning as everyone’s back garden. Residents love the almost rural greenery, oak and plane trees sustained by the higher than average rainfall on this side of the mountain, the views and the convenience of the M3 nearby giving easy access to the rest of the city.
“This side of the mountain is my favourite angle,” says Angelique Smith of Josephine Mill. “It’s absolutely exquisite, and it gets the drums of my soul beating every time.”
The schools at the suburb’s heart inject a youthful vibe, with kids from SACS and Westerford as well as students from nearby UCT flocking to the affordable eateries on Dean Street and Kildare Road, which hum with a vibrant cafe culture. And Newlands lays claim to two sports stadiums which bring the suburb alive to the roar of international matches, which are also broadcast in the many local pubs.
The village itself is an eclectic mix of small Victorian cottages and larger family homes mostly with small gardens, some with the open green spaces of school playing fields behind them, others with mountain streams running through them. Inri McManus, whose Riversong Guest House backs onto Liesbeek River, says, “The mountain view takes my breath away. In the mornings, the mountain has a rosy glow, sharp blue tones during the day and hazy misty ones in the late afternoon.”
The water attracts a variety of birds to Newlands. “We have a resident African harrier-hawk, which nests in our big 350-year-old tree.” Where Rhodes Avenue winds towards Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, the Fernwood area offers villas and homes in larger gardens, some perched on the mountain slopes among towering pine trees.
A more urban side of Newlands, with a sprinkling of apartment buildings and modern hotels, extends over Main Road towards the rugby and cricket stadiums.
Newlands is an ideal home for families with children at SACS or Westerford. They can walk to school and skip the school run mayhem. Kildare Pre-Primary School and several other pre-schools nearby also make the suburb attractive to young families, as do the leafy kids’ play areas in Palmboom Road and Paradise Park.
And in the neighbouring suburbs of Rondebosch and Claremont, there’s a further choice of prestigious primary and high schools including Bishops Diocesan College, Rondebosch Boys’ High School, Rustenburg Girls’ High School, Herschel Girls School, Western Province Prep and The Grove Primary School.
Newlands Forest, with its mountain trails, trickling streams and shady trees, is everyone’s favourite place for family rambles, runs and mountain biking, but there are plenty more hidden green spaces to explore around Newlands. “There are wonderful walks along the Liesbeek River from behind The Vineyard Hotel into Bishopscourt with stunning parks for children and dogs to enjoy,” says Inri. “I love walking in the area and I always feel safe.”
Montebello Design Centre has long been the place to go for cutting-edge design, crafts and a cosy cafe, and now it’s joined by a chic new destination that will appeal to foodie residents: Josephine Mill will re-open soon after renovations turning the old museum into a working mill and living museum with several food and bar offerings, including a coffee roastery and Culture Club Cheese, relocating here from Bree Street.
Opposite, on the grass oval behind Newlands Brewery, Newlands Spring Market brings together the best artisan food suppliers on occasional weekends. Between Dean Street and Kildare Road, there are many little treats – ice cream at The Creamery, Italian chocolate and gelato at Le Delizie, patisserie at Cassis and deli finds at Melissa’s – that Newlands residents hardly have to leave their village to enjoy the best in life.
“The fusion of natural beauty, community and heritage makes for a calming but energised hum that I always feel when I’m this side of the mountain – be it walking in the forest or eating at a local restaurant”
Angelique Smith of Josephine Mill
- Barristers: for pub lunch specials
- Wijnhuis: for elegant dining
- Le Delizie: for delicious Italian chocolate and gelato
- Patina: for a chic steakhouse vibe
- El Burro: for tacos and Mexican food
- Banks Burger: for handmade burgers and chips
- The Creamery: for excellent ice cream
- Myoga at The Vineyard Hotel: for sophisticated lunch and dinner
- Foresters Arms Restaurant and Bar: a Victorian gastropub serving a variety of beers on tap
- Dean Street Arcade: for Woolworths Food, a bookshop and boutiques
- Montebello Design Centre: for arts and craft studios and a nursery
- Kildare Road: for a cluster of boutiques including Cassis for macarons
- WP Rugby Shop: for rugby clothing and accessories
- Cavendish Square: for retail therapy and movies
- Walk and mountain bike in Newlands Forest.
- Join the sports fans at Newlands rugby and cricket stadiums for local and international matches.
- Collect fresh drinking water from Newlands spring.
- Enjoy picnics and summer concerts with the family at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.
- Walk your dog or cycle along the Liesbeek River trail.