• We explore the Overberg region in our long-term Ford Ranger Thunder.
• One of the attractions on the trip was the ferry at Malgas.
• The ferry transports vehicles and goods over the Breede River.
• For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za
Recently, our long-term Ford Ranger Thunder undertook a brisk morning drive to Malgas in the Cape's Overberg region. Apart from exploring the surrounding area and driving on roads never experienced before, the Ranger Thunder had one main objective when we took it out into the countryside: take a lift on the ferry.
For those who don't know, the Malgas ferry, or pont, first came into operation in 1860. This pont, a flat-bottomed ferry, was used by farmers in the area to transport their goods over the Breede River. Before long, it was used as an everyday transport method as locals needed to cross the river for their daily activities. Whether it be children going to school or farmers conducting business on the other side, the pont was rife with activities.
As of late, it has become a hot tourist attraction in the area, and the small town of Malgas is a buzz of activity when the pont is at its busiest. Interestingly, while we could not find the latest figures, Malgas had a population of 44 in the 2011 census. 44!
The Malgas ferry received a much-needed upgrade in mid-December 2020, ensuring its operation for the next few years. However, the ferry has not been in operation for the last several weeks. If this is something you'd want to experience, do check your newsfeeds for any updates on when the Pont will open again.
For more on the Malgas Pont Ferry's history, click here.
The road less traveled
Setting off from Cape Town, we directed the Thunder's nose toward Caledon via the N2, followed by the R316 towards Bredasdorp. In this town's center, it was left onto the R319 for about 7.4km before making a right at the sign that reads 'Malgas'.
The scenery in this part of the world is breathtaking, with the hills and mountains laying as far as the eye can see. The gravel road is not too unnerving either, but then again, the Ranger Thunder has never felt out of place on gravel. The suspension setup soaks up all the undulations, and is it easy to push the bakkie to its limits. All the occupants were seated in ample comfort, and those on the rear bench had no trouble taking a nap as we bolted towards the pont.
The Thunder again proved its worth over and through the vast valleys en route to Malgas. And at the pont, after a few minutes of sailing on the ferry, made it across without getting a single wheel wet.
Exploring more roads
The Breede River finds its origins in Ceres, some 200km North of Malgas. The river is formed near the Mitchells Pass's foot, where the Dwarsrivier splits and becomes two: the Breede and Witels Rivers. But the Breede River runs through several towns and eventually mouths at Witsand: a coastal town South of Malgas.
And while we did not trek alongside the Breede River's banks, we found our way to Swellendam via the gravel road that runs adjacent to the river. The road is kept in good condition and allows occupants to take in the area's serenity. However, given the Overberg's proneness to good rainfalls, expect the gravel road to always surprise you with a mud pool next to the road.
Once we arrived in Swellendam, a quick stop at Buffeljagsrivier's fueling station took care of lunch before heading out again to find and explore new roads that were inland.
As we made our way out of Swellendam, we traversed a road called 'Swellendam Road'. It took us to Bruintjiesrivier, where we turned off and onto the R317 before making a right towards McGregor. We went all along the gravel road until a few kilometres outside Robertson, where we darted left for Villiersdorp. We even scaled the beautiful Strykhoogte Pass!
It was a perfect day for embarking on a little adventure, exploring the Western Cape's vast landscapes. And all the while the Ranger Thunder failed to put a foot wrong, living up to its promise of 'thundering' on.