Old Andreans wishing to book their stay at the College Shack at Klipbaai can do so by contacting:
Ms Sashay Bates at Tel 046 603 2300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The History of the Shack – Reflections by André Bouwer
The first year I arrived at College, Harry Birrell invited me to go to the Shack. I discovered paradise. I sat on the bankie in front of the Shack, awestruck, taking in the magnificent view of the rugged Tsitsikamma coastline. The closest human activity was approximately 10 km away and the rocks were untouched. That was 33 years ago and I still love the Shack!
Harry was a master story teller. The trip to the Shack was an experience. Wonderful stories unfolded over the course of the trip but the best ones were told around the fire place that evening. We kuiered until the early hours of the morning. The sounds of my guitar were complimented by Harry’s enthusiastic singing of his famous rugby songs.
In a day and a night I learnt all there was to know about the Shack. I was told stories about the early treks to the Moolman’s farm from where the first building groups launched their building operations over the dunes on oxen slay way back in 1959. The stories were fascinating and featured the great characters that built the Shack - Jan van Wyk, Axel Ohlson, Anton Murray and of course Harry himself. Jan Van Wyk led the first building operations which consisted of school boys and masters. Those early days are fondly remembered by old boys, like Dougie Galpin, after whom Dougie’s Rock was named. Later on David Wylde had the honour of laying the first stone for the legendary fireplace as a young school boy.
Swanee Moolman, who taught Afrikaans at College, enjoyed the College experience so much that he gave a small part of their farm, on which the Shack was to be built, to College so that future generations of College boys could escape to the wild. He wanted the boys to learn about nature and the sea and become tuned to the sensitivity of the Fynbos eco system. When he was well over eighty, and he felt his time on earth was running out, he asked to have a final visit to the Shack. Harry went with him.
There were the fishing stories. I learnt how Birrell’s Rock got its name and about Anton Murray’s record catch (a 62 pound black steenbrass) caught at Dougie’s Rock. There were stories behind the naming of each fishing spot at the Shack like Scholtz se Gat, Murray’s Point, Terry’s Gap and Jan se Bank.
Harry’s stories helped me realize that I had come to a very special place - a place with a history, built by passionate men who left a wonderful legacy for the future generations of College boys. That same year Harry handed over the keys and I became the new custodian of the Shack.
Maintenance trips followed during the school holidays. Poles were put in to support the sagging roof and a new concrete floor was thrown.
Today the Shack still looks the same but it has moved with the times. It now has an outside flush toilet and a hard day’s fishing is rewarded by a hot shower under the stars. The people who kindly offered their services are too numerous to mention. Great friendships were made and the camaraderie that accompanied these trips made them very special.
The Shack knits people together. It is an environment that cultivates bonds. The cooking takes place around the legendary fireplace. You eat, sleep and live together in one room. Everyone is equal. It is this environment that has enhanced my contact with the boys. I have built very special relationships with boys over the years because of the Shack.
The Shack has provided a wonderful escape for College boys. The many skin diving and fishing trips have produced stories of their own and they get bigger and better as the years progress – like the fish that were caught / and got away.
For me the Shack forms a great part of my life. As a young bachelor at College I often spent the first week of the holidays at the Shack all on my own to unwind. There was something about the Shack and the roaring waves of the Tsitsikamma that enthralled me. This is the time I became one with the sea. I fished the calm and stormy seas for days on end without another human being in sight. It gave me the opportunity to reflect on life and put issues into perspective.
When I got married my ties with the Shack continued. Robyn and I had our honeymoon there. The word somehow got out that a honeymoon couple were coming to the Shack. Much to our surprise Jack Ingles left us a fynbos wreath and a letter of congratulations tied onto a very special bottle of red KWV champagne. This was a great start to a wonderful honeymoon at the Shack. We often returned as a family and this was where our three daughters learnt to snorkel and discover the wonders of the world beneath the sea.
May I be lucky enough to return to this wonderful place in the years to come. I hope that one day, like Swanee Moolman, I would be able to go on one last Shack trip and find the beautiful stretch of fynbos coastline unspoilt and untouched by man.