For several months, I’ve been living in Mouille Point (moo-lee) situated along the Atlantic Ocean. It’s near Sea Point, Green Point Park, Cape Town Stadium, and Victoria and Albert Waterfront. So far, Cape Town’s winter has been mild with mostly warm sunny days.
Atlantic Seaboard Promenade and Green Point Park
Mouille Point is a small active neighborhood with a paved seaboard promenade on one side and urban Green Point Park on the other. Every day visitors frequent the popular area, including joggers, walkers, baby strollers, skaters, and cyclists.
Mouille Point is a “put-in” spot for sea kayakers. Points along the seaboard are also popular with surfers (wet suits essential) and divers. Seabirds that circle overhead include cormorants, seagulls, and the giant albatross. Hadeda Ibis hang out on the other side in Green Park making their loud, distinctive haa-haa-haa-de-dah call.
Seals, penguins, endemic Heaviside’s dolphins, and even an occasional right whale visit the coastline. I’ve been continually entertained and amazed by Mouille Point’s sea life, sights, smells, sometimes violent surf, and indescribable sunsets! The Promenade is equally enchanting during clear sunny and overcast stormy days.
Green Point Common lies slightly inland on the other side of Mouille Point next to Cape Town Stadium. The green haven includes soccer fields, duck ponds, children’s playgrounds, a golf course, and Green Point Urban Park and Biodiversity Garden.
History of Shipwrecks
“The name ‘Mouille’ comes from the French word for a marine anchoring ground. In the 18th century ships were often swept ashore in Cape Town’s Table Bay. In 1743 the governor decided to build a breakwater (mouille in French) to protect anchored vessels. Work began when farmers who delivered goods to the city were required to load up their wagons with stones, drive out to Mouille Point, and offload them into Table Bay.”
“Braving dangerous high seas, slaves and convicts toiled at building the breakwater. After three years of hard labor they had completed a mere 100m (110 yards) and the project was abandoned. In 1781 the French arrived and built a battery near the unfinished mouille, naming it Mouille Point Battery.”
SS South African Seafarer
In 1966, despite the presence of nearby lighthouses, during a fierce winter storm the SS South African Seafarer ran aground between Mouille Point and Three Anchor Bay. Everybody on board was rescued by helicopters from South Africa’s Ysterplaat Air Force Base.
The City of Cape Town commissioned sculptor Kevin Brand to create a piece for the Sea Point Promenade recalling his memory of the Seafarer running aground during the storm.
“At the sculpture’s unveiling, Brand explained that the ship’s cargo contained some miniature
white plastic horses associated with a supply of White Horse Whiskey being transported by the ship. The crashing of the Atlantic Ocean washed these little white horses to shore and scattered them on the beach where he and many others delighted in finding the tiny treasures. The horses are on concrete bases and positioned along the promenade at angles which suggest a ‘washed-up’ feeling.”
Green Point Lighthouse later replaced Mouille Point Lighthouse. Traditionally a new lighthouse cannot take the name of an older one. Today Green Point Lighthouse is a popular landmark and its red-stripes brighten the promenade.
Shipwrecks along Mouille Point include the Royal Mail Steamer Athens, which ran aground in 1865 during The Great Table Bay Gale 17 May. The colossal gale wrecked seventeen ships! The iron engine block of the Athens is visible off shore. It’s possible to dive the wreck which has been “salvaged” for over 150 years! The Athens wreck is said to be badly broken up and overgrown with kelp and sea urchins.
Since spice traders began sailing around Cape Point, Cape Town’s storms have famously claimed many ships. Some were “lost to the sea” while others are visible and accessible to divers. The remains of many shipwrecks can still be seen resting on beaches along the Cape Peninsula’s coastline.
Green Point Common
“In the 18th century the Green Point Common was known by the Dutch as De Waterplaats (the Foreshore). It extended from Three Anchor Bay to Cape Town and included most of the land towards Sea Point and the coastline. The Common was granted to the Cape Town City Council in 1923 by the Union Government.”
“The Common has a colorful history as a sports field and recreation site for Capetonians. Horse races were held at the Common until Kenilworth Racecourse took its place. Sailing regattas ran along the promenade and at the turn of the century the area hosted an Imperial Exhibition. The Common was also a venue for some of the earliest rugby and cricket matches in the Cape, and the Green Point Track was important for cycling and track and field sports.”
Cape Town Stadium
Cape Town Stadium replaced Green Point Stadium and was built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Today it’s the home ground of two Premier Soccer League clubs – Ajax Cape Town and Cape Town City. The stadium has hosted competitions like the HSBC Sevens World Rugby Series.
After the FIFA World Cup, the Business Venture Investments 1317 consortium was awarded the service contract to manage the stadium and ensure that it remained a sustainable multi-purpose venue. In 2016, the group still manages the stadium.
Cape Town Stadium is available for concerts and other venues and can host from 10 or less to 55,000 people. Spaces for rent include a mixing lounge, business zone, presidential suite, playing courts, and conference rooms. It was recently used to host a concert by American singer Mariah Carey.