From its well-run little hospital to its porcelain- and glass-filled Heritage Museum, from its legend-rich Dutch Reformed Church to its stately old Victorian-era hotel, the Eastern Cape town of Adelaide is a warm community that welcomes visitors – and it is very proud of its steaks, biltong and frontier history.

Did you know?

Adelaide features in the autobiographies of authors like Thomas Pringle, Iris Vaughan and Sir Andries Stockenstrom.

If you ever find yourself in the local doctor’s waiting room in Adelaide in the Eastern Cape, chances are you’ll see a sign that reads: ‘Venison pies in aid of hospital funds.’

That’s right. The people of this historic little settlement are justly proud of their hospital, which is managed through a private-provincial partnership.

This means that just about everybody in Adelaide works very hard at raising funds to keep the neat, well-organised hospital running.

They’ll stage braais, summer dances, hold raffles and yes, bake venison pies, all in aid of the Adelaide Hospital.

This tells you much about the character of the town’s residents, most of whom hail from San, Xhosa, Afrikaner and Scottish stock.

Adelaide, less than 20km east of its sister town, Bedford, lies to the south of the Winterberg Mountains.

It’s a favoured destination for Frontier War history buffs, mountain bikers and nature lovers who visit the nearby Fort Fordyce Nature Reserve, often on horseback.

Founded in 1834 as Fort Adelaide by a British army captain, the local farming community was predominantly Boer. Many of them left to join the Great Trek (a migration away from British rule) a few years later, making way for an influx of Scottish settlers.

British forces hoisted a cannon onto the rampart-shaped steeple of the Adelaide Dutch Reformed Church during the South African War (also known as the Anglo-Boer War), but locals say it was never fired.

The church pulpit, however, carries a more colourful legend.

The story goes that sometime after the South African War, a large shipment of wood arrived from England. It was immediately turned into church pews and a pulpit, of which everyone was very proud.

Some time later, there were enquiries from Adelaide, Australia, about a missing shipment of wood. But by then it was too late.

Another site worth visiting in Adelaide is the Heritage Museum, where you can get a detailed glimpse of colonial frontier life in Victorian days.

You will see old photographs, formal dresses, inventive kitchen utensils, phonographs, rugby memorabilia from a century ago, Spode dinner services, antique furniture, and an incredible collection of Wedgwood pottery and Lalique glassware.

And then, for lunch, repair to the historic Midgely’s Hotel up the road and be sure to order the steak – it’s really good ...

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Midgley’s Hotel
Tel: +27 (0)46 684 1441
Email: midgleys@albanynet.co.za

Fort Fordyce Nature Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)46 684 0729
Cell: +27 (0)84 225 0547

Cavers Country Guest House
Tel: +27 (0)46 685 0619

How to get here

Adelaide lies 22km east of Bedford on the R63, 140km from Grahamstown and 180km from Port Elizabeth off the N10.

Best time to visit

Adelaide is best-visited in the spring (September/October) or autumn (April/May). It can be very hot in summer (November to March) and very cold in winter (June to August).

Around the area

The October garden festival in Bedford is legendary, and always well attended.

Tours to do

Self-guided tours of Grahamstown, Bedford and Adelaide. Fort Beaufort and back is an approx. 250km journey – perfect for a day trip.

Get around

Self-drive so you can make a circuit of the Eastern Cape frontier towns.

What will it cost

Accommodation costs are in the R300 pp range and meals in the area are inexpensive.

Length of stay

Adelaide can be used as a base for a three-day adventure around the Eastern Cape.

What to pack

Pack your outdoor seasonal gear for walks in the Winterberg and visits to Fort Fordyce Nature Reserve.

Where to stay

Midgely’s Hotel or Cavers Country Guest House, between Adelaide and Bedford.

What to eat

The farmers and publicans in the area are proud of their steaks and biltong.

What's happening

Check the Adelaide website for events in the town.

Best buys

Fresh strawberries just outside Bedford; and biltong from Adelaide. For history buffs: Frontiers, by Noel Mostert, The Edges of War, by John Milton, and The Diary of Iris Vaughan.