Edna Fourie Gallery, Eseltjiesrus, Karoux restaurant, Lord's Guest lodge, Lord's Wine Farm, McGregor, McGregor Tourism, review, Rhebokskraal, Tanagra wine farm, Tebaldi's restaurant, Temenos retreat, Wahnfried
Tucked into the folds of the Riviersonderend mountains, only twenty kilometres but what feels like worlds away from the bustle of Robertson, lies the small town of McGregor in all of its laid-back glory.
The main road runs through the centre of town, the spindle from which town life slowly unravels. Lined with shops, Art galleries, restaurants and pubs (2 to be exact), it’s where visitors and locals meet, and makes for the perfect Saturday morning stroll, starting with the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it morning market, an especially popular haunt for the local hounds due to the famous doggy treat stall.
Being the most well-preserved example of a mid 19th century town, McGregor is as pretty to look at as it is gentle and unpretentious, with lavish wild gardens and whitewashed cottages dotted among sprawling veggie patches, boutique vineyards and dirt roads. The surrounding valley is filled with lovely wine farms, a sprawling nature reserve with abundant wildlife and bird watching opportunities, beautiful guest lodges and farm accommodation, hiking and biking trails and even a donkey sanctuary.
With only 250 – 400 permanent and weekend residents, the heart of McGregor is its local community, an artistic, eccentric and unique bunch with colourful stories of reinvention and new starts, a lot of whom were originally attracted to McGregor by what must be its soul centre, Temenos retreat and gardens. A real treat, Temenos fills a whole block with beautiful peaceful gardens, winding paths and sacred spaces, a tranquil environment to recollect and reflect.
For tourists, time slows down, and your days are easily filled with activities or doing absolutely nothing at all. With an art route, a wine route, numerous mtb and hiking trails and even a local ex-Masterchef in town, McGregor really offers a unique experience for anyone looking for a therapeutic, authentic and peaceful countryside experience. Don’t hesitate, the slow life awaits.
The Saturday morning market:
Held in the church square, the tiny market kicks off at 9′ o clock and is usually over at 10. This is where most of the locals buy (and sell) their fresh produce. You will also find olive oil, baked goods, preserves, honey, rusks, dog biscuits, jewelry, and other interesting local offerings.
Edna Fourie Gallery (Main road):
The exclusive home of Edna Fourie’s collection, the gallery transcends traditional boundaries, with the garden serving as an extension to the exhibition space. A permanent collection roots and supports the artworks available for purchase with Edna herself around to guide you in the experience. www.ednafouriegallery.co.za
Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary:
Visitors are welcome to meet and interact with the lovely donkeys staying at Eseltjiesrus. This home for abused, neglected and retired donkeys tries to create awareness for the welfare of donkeys and provides them with a loving and caring home. There is also a Coffee shop at the sanctuary that serves light lunches. Also a great educational outing for kids. Die donkie is ‘n wonderlike ding! www.donkeysanctuary.co.za
Rhebokskraal olive farm:
Rhebokskraal offers a wide range of olives and olive products, from oils to preserves and flavoured salt. Olive tours and tastings on the farm is available by appointment only. The good news is that all of their products, including the very interesting and tasty wooded Merlot and Cabernet grape juices are available for tasting at the Villagers farm stall in the Main road. www.rhebokskraalolives.co.za ; Villagers Farm Stall
On the road to nowhere Lords winery has a lovely atmosphere and beautiful views. Make yourself at home on the verandah and enjoy a bottle of wine with a generous home-made cheese platter. Cellar tours are insightful and the Chardonnay is to die for, buttery, rich and golden in colour. www.lordswinery.com
Temenos Retreat and Gardens & Tebaldi’s restaurant:
For a break from everything, take a stroll in the tranquil gardens of Temenos, or spend an hour or two in the library surrounded by an ample collection of literature and poetry. If you still feel the pressures of the world, book yourself a silent or wellness retreat, or maybe a treatment by the on-site therapists will do the trick. A meal at Tebaldi’s restaurant is another highlight at Temenos, to be enjoyed on the verandah with peacocks and roses for company or inside with a cosy fireplace for the cooler months. www.temenos.co.za
Tanagra Distillery and Wine Farm:
A Giant Wild Fig tree gave the farm its name. Tanagra, meaning ‘main shade’ in Khoisan is a pretty farm producing boutique hand crafted wines with a focus on single vineyard wines. They also produce a variety of Grappa and Eau de Vie from their Boutique distillery with a still that travelled with the owners and their 3 cats all the way from Germany. They also offer farm accommodation in various self-catering cottages, hiking trails and bird walks. www.tanagra-wines.co.za
Lords Guest Lodge and Lady Grey restaurant:
Perched on a hill overlooking McGregor and its beautiful surroundings, the thatch-roofed, stone buildings reminds of something from a bygone era. A giant hearth and gold chandeliers sets the tone for luxurious and cosy dining with amazing views from the wraparound porch. The 4 star establishment also offers large freestanding cottages and luxury rooms with the same stunning views and elegant interiors. A rustic wine bar overlooking the pool completes the picture, and seems to be where visitors spend most of their time. Your friendly Hosts, Matt and Collin will be sure to make your experience one of true country hospitality. www.lordsguestlodge.co.za
A fantastic dining experience awaits at Karoux restaurant, where Aimee van Hecke and Ryan Josten serves seasonal, fresh, organic and delicious cooking from their tiny kitchen. Ryan used to head the kitchen at the Conservatory at the Cellars Hohenhort Hotel, while Aimee was restaurant manager at Catharina’s at Steenberg. The small restaurant spills out onto a pretty covered courtyard with a cosy fireplace. A lovely example of simple food with complex flavours. Also, this is where John Tovey, Britain’s first Masterchef, likes to have his dinner 😉 www.karoux.co.za
Summer Place Cottage:
On the outskirts on town, down a quiet dirt lane you will find Summer Place, a semi-detached self catering cottage with all the trimmings. A quaint verandah overlooks the garden and you have a fireplace for the cooler months. Walking distance to the Main road, this is an absolutely lovely and affordable base for a weekend in McGregor.
A truly beautiful house turned into a ‘Home for music” and movies. Every Thursday and Friday night locals and tourists are welcomed into Michael and Freddie’s ‘theatre’ with a glass of wine to watch screenings of selected documentaries and movies. On Sundays they have Opera screenings or live music events. Not to be missed. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a list of events.
For more information about any and all of what the lovely little town of McGregor has to offer (and listed here is only a few), don’t hesitate to contact the Tourism office and McGregor Museum. They will gladly help you organise accommodation, tours and anything else you might need.
McGregor tourism contact details:
Mondays to Saturdays 9am – 1pm ; 2pm – 4h30pm
Sun / Public Holidays 9am – 1pm
Phone: +27 (0)23 625 1954
Fax: +27 (0)86 612 9636
SMS: +27 (0)820072 292 9002