10 June 2011 by Chris Marais

There's a Lighthouse Over Yonder

Some years ago we were on a book trip, researching the entire coastline of South Africa from Alexander Bay to Kosi Bay. A three month job not bespoke for sissies that later turned into a book called Shorelines - A Journey Along the South African Coast.

A few weeks into said journey, Jules and I drove around a corner and were struck dumb for a minute or two. Me, I don’t really do ‘struck dumb’ as a rule. I believe in the Shrek principle of ‘better out than in’, and so I normally verbalise.

But the sight of the Doring Bay lighthouse and the old canning factory next to it at sunset totally gobsmacked us. It was like Ryan’s Daughter meets Cannery Row.

The bay itself had a perfect scimitar curve, lined by the rusty old fish factory. At the end stood a lighthouse in full working order, its beam flashing back and forth like it was hunting something. It looked like a movie set, especially aided by the stormy sundown weather.

But the mainland houses were a scruffy collection of dwellings and, for once, I wished a developer would move in, buy everyone out, and build a typically Hebridean village. With a very good pub thrown in, of course. And possibly a sandy cricket field out back. All of which is strange for me to say: I’m not a great fan of developers, I rarely hang out in pubs and I’m a very bad cricketer.

So imagine my surprise when, just recently, I googled Doring Bay and found that a developer had, indeed, pitched up at this promisingly idyllic spot. He was offering 21 stands for just over R2 million. Now here’s hoping someone with style, vision and a sense of something coastal is going to arrive and give Doring Bay the kind of make-over it’s crying for.

And then we’ll be back for a monster crayfish and a lager at the newly built seaside shanty bar…

Category: Culture & History

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