accommodation.  attractions. businesses.  wetlands.  birds.  reserves.  water sports.  Port Alfred.  food.  friends.


& friends.
Tourism, which as we all know is the core industry of our country, it cannot go anywhere, cannot succeed, without our neighbours, our friends.
We are so proud of our country, so convinced that our province will succeed, that we want to show you all that we have near here.

MIDDLETON. Middleton is the Eastern Cape's very own Matjiesfontein.

                     Move over the Western Cape's quaint village
                     of Matjiesfontein. You have a rival in the
                     Eastern Cape – the charming hamlet of

                     Like well known Matjiesfontein, the historically
                     rich Middleton, with its main and only street, is
                     privately owned. It offers travellers the
                     beautifully restored Middleton Manor House as
                     an hotel, a post office general dealer store
                     with a 40m long shop counter, a police station
                     in the old school, a railway line with a station
                     house transformed into the Yellow Wood Pub
                     with a sports room and cosy fireplace, a
                     conference centre seating 100 and other
                     buildings covering 17 ha. There is also a
                     landing strip for small aircraft.

                     Dating back to 1879, the village is a delightful
                     green oasis a mere 140 km from Port
                     Elizabeth and 40 kms from Somerset East in
                     the Cape Midlands on the N10 national road.

                     Apart from overnighting in the gracious old
                     double-storey gabled manor with its original
                     Oregon floors, fireplaces and memorabilia
                     reminiscent of bygone days, those staying
                     longer will not be bored.

                     The village’s garden runs down to the banks of
                     the Great Fish River where they can river raft,
                     fish or canoe or else they can view game, bird
                     watch, hike and horseback ride or play tennis
                     and lie at the pool.

                     Whether you’re in the mood for some action or
                     just want to mix with the locals – game, Merino
                     sheep and Angora goat farmers - Middleton
                     Manor’s staff can arrange something for
                     everybody. Middleton Manor’s telephone/fax is
                     (042) 247 –2538/9


     CRADOCK.194 kms from Port Alfred.

Was founded by Sir John Cradock after the Frontier War of 1812 as a stronghold to secure the
Eastern area of the then Cape Province. It lies in a broad part of the upper Fish River valley. The
rich soil, plentiful water and warm climate make it an ideal Lucerne, fruit and dairy farming area.
When necessary supplementary water is fed to the area from the Orange River via a tunnel, 82
kms long - making it one of the longest irrigation tunnels in the world!

Gorgeous little restored houses, situated along Victoria Street.  Decorated in the most wonderful antiques.  These are owned by Sandra Antrobus, and they used, in the olden days to belong to
 the coloured community.

One books in, at the main house, and your choice of cottage, is suggested to you.   Dinner is served at the Victoria Hotel, which she also owns, this to, is a magnificently restored hotel, and
you are met by wonderful ladies, who serve you sherry as you enter.  The food is to die for!  Oh! you just walk to the hotel, as it is on the corner.  Breakfast is served at the main reception house. This too is a HUGE meal.

The quaint little town, abounds with history. Museums, shops and wonderful parks.

Some of the game reserves, mentioned on the 'reserves' pages, are found around this area. The most famous being the Mountain Zebra Park.

In mentioning our friends, we keep finding interesting bits 'n pieces in the surrounding countryside.
One of these was stumbling upon the little known subject of fresh water fish, which live in the waters not far from here. On the page 'myths & legends, there is a story of the Blaauwkrantz Bridge, which is still there, although in its new form.  Adjacent to this area, is the little known BLAAUWKRANTZ NATURE RESERVE. It was here, that we discovered the marvellous work being done by the department of fisheries at Rhodes University. In particular, the fish in the article below. Hope you enjoy this tit bit as much as we did.
ROCKY (Sandelia bainsii)
Sandelia bainsii

The Blaauwkrantz Reserve lies in a valley approximately 25 km from Grahamstown on the
way to Port Alfred. One of the important features of this small reserve is a population of the
Eastern Cape rocky (Sandelia bainsii). This freshwater fish species is unfortunately in the Red
Data Book and many of the remaining populations of this species are threatened by water
abstraction for agriculture, weirs, introduced alien fish species, and deteriorating water
quality. In addition to these major threats, several river systems in the Eastern Cape have
serious infestations of the South American water fern, Azolla filiculoides. As with many
introduced problem plants this one grows extremely quickly and soon covers the surface of
riverine pools.
Good biological control is available and herbicides may endanger the fish and other aquatic
organisms. The possible introduction of grass carp to eat the fern could do more harm than
good. These fish are known to prefer softer vegetation according to experts at Rand
Afrikaans University. If the grass carp did control the Azolla there would also be the problem
of them ingesting very young Eastern Cape rockies which use the fern for shelter. The
covering of an entire  pool by the water fern not only affects the fish populations but I have
recorded an entire change of events from the fish eagles in the air to the freshwater mussels
on the bottom of the pool. When there is a thick mat of the fern (up to 10cm thick), terrestrial
insects start to inhabit it.

Birds such as Cape wagtails feed on these insects. Freshwater crabs crawl along the surface
hunting for food and then quickly burrow into the fern when disturbed. Even water leguaans
of 40cm in length can walk over this thick mat. But what is happening to all the other aquatic
organisms? Starting at the top, fish eagles and kingfishers will not be able to locate fish in the
pools and have not been observed since the water fern became established. Otters also have
difficulty finding their prey. The Blaauwkrantz pool always had otters, but when the pool was
covered by the water fern they moved away (or starved??). It is interesting to note that now,
after our continuous removal of the water fern over several years, an otter has reappeared at
the pool.

The otter appears to be mainly eating freshwater mussels and possibly can not locate
freshwater crabs in the Azolla. Waterfowl, such as black ducks, yellowbill ducks and Egyptian
geese used to frequent the pool and now are only rarely observed if some of the pool is not
covered. The fern must reduce the amount of area for the waterfowl to raise their young.
Domestic animals have ventured onto the water fern in farming areas, possibly thinking that it
was a solid surFACE face, and have drowned. One can only assume that this may happen to wildlife such as bushbuck and kudu. Dragonflies quickly reappear when one is clearing the pool of the fern. They are attracted by the reflection off the water surface.

During summer they quickly start to mate and lay eggs, many of these eggs are laid on the
water fern. The complete cover by the fern reduces the light getting into the water column so
that the natural cycle of phytoplankton (mainly microscopic plants) followed by zooplankton
(small animal life) does not occur. The plankton is a very important food source for the young
fish and without it the fish will starve. The water fern acts as a huge umbrella completely
shading the riverine pools. The decaying plants sink to the bottom and cause a reduction in
oxygen levels. These are the reasons we have initiated a community based "Save the Sandelia
bainsii campaign". At the start of the project my family (Eve, Garth and Conrad) were asked
to help remove the fern over weekends.

To date we have removed well over 400 tonnes of Azolla from the pool. We developed certain
techniques such as Garth's T-bar for collecting the weed, and my "plough" which fits onto the
bow of Goodwin's Labyrinth, the canoe. I did not want to use nets as this would also collect
fish, many of which would go undetected. Because of the thickness of the mat when we started
the work in March 1991, we used our hands to lift and remove the fern. We now use old tennis
racquets, which work very well. But one still has to be careful as the odd fish does get trapped
in the Azolla. All the materials used for removing the fern are kept exclusively for the
Blaauwkrantz pool to prevent the spread of this alien species.

We have had a number of individuals and groups help in this project either by donating
physical labour, equipment or money. The Algoa Regional Services Council (now Western
Region Services Council) have contributed money as has David Armitage of the Anabantoid
Association of Great Britain. The International Anabantoid Association have also donated
money for the project and invited me to Germany to give several talks on the project in 1995
and have invited me back as the guest speaker for their 25 anniversary celebration in 1998.
Ludwig Schadhauser an editor of a German magazine, Ein Herz fur Tiere, has been an
immense help to the project and Martinus Martin has kindly translated my articles into

This has generated funds. Paul and Julia Goodwin of Grahamstown generously donated a
canoe which has greatly improved the work and given many young people enjoyment while
they work. It is a pleasure to see children who have never been in a boat quickly master how
to handle one. The canoe has been named Goodwin's Labyrinth. Several German companies
have donated equipment. EHEIM have donated quality aquarium filters for the project. SERA
have donated fish food and aquarium care projects. TETRA have donated quality AnalySets
which the children enjoy using. TOTAL (SA) donated money for the poster. The Fauna and
Flora International have contributed some funds for survey work.

The Mazda Wildlife Fund has contributed a 4X4 vehicle which is used for both research and
environmental education. The South African Airways has transported some of this equipment
from Germany free of charge. Recently WWF-SA have offered to support the project which
has a strong Environmental education section. This support from WWF will be of immense
value to the project. The various groups who have helped to date include the Graeme College
Eco-Club, Victoria Girls High Eco-club, St. Andrew 's College Eco-club, St Bartholomew's
congregation and President Award candidates from Nathaniel Nyaluza High School,
Nombulelo High School.

Thompson Gojela of the Western Region Services Council Environmental Education section
took a group of 10 children from the Kenton-on-Sea conservation club (Makukhanye = `The
sun must come' conservation club) to the pool. Another group led by Thompson Gojela was
from the Qaqambile (="bright") conservation club; David Armitage from Britain finally paid
us a visit and was our first international helper who, on leaving, also donated his hip-waders
to the project. The waders have proved to be essential in winter time with water temperatures
as low as 9oC. Two photo-journalists from Germany, Ludwig Schadhauser and Martinus
Martin have also visited the project.

All those who have helped have now acquired first hand knowledge of how the introduction of
an alien aquatic plant can completely restructure the aquatic environment. Articles have been
written for the local paper (Grocott's Mail), Farmers Weekly (with Estelle Brink of the
Herbarium at the Albany Museum) many international magazines such as Ein Herz fur Tiere
and Datz and talks have been g given to students at a number of schools as well as to local
farmers. A live display of the problem was set up at the Bathurst Agricultural Show in 1991 to
get reaction and contact with local farmers. A display has also been set up in the Albany
Museum with live fish and information.

At the Science and Technology Festival in Grahamstown (SCIFEST'97) this project was part
of the activities and I was a Scientist-in-Residence and explained the project to hundreds of
participants. At the Albany Museum we are developing a Blue Planer Gallery which will
highlight the scarcity of freshwater on the globe and what we as individuals can do to
conserve water. The gallery will also have a section on endangered species such as the
Eastern Cape rocky. The project has assumed a momentum m of its own. President Award
members request time, Rhodes University students have used it as an example of
environmental journalism, Azolla, Sandelia bainsii and our local river system are more
frequent subjects of school projects - and many people enquire about the current state of
Azolla growth in the pool.

Siviwe Ngene did a School's Science Expo project on an aspect of this conservation project
and won silver medals at both the Regional and National Expos. He also attended the
International Expo in Pretoria in 1997. At this venue he was able to meet young scientists
from many countries. If you would like to help please contact: The Curator, Department of
Freshwater Ichthyology, Albany Museum, Grahamstown, 6139 or phone 0461-22312. We can arrange for you to have some hands on contact with an alien.

As with all web pages, this one is being constantly updated, and is as yet incomplete.

Port Alfred Home Page.