Bellville is the centre of the northern suburbs, surrounded by Tygerberg, Plattekloof, Century City and Durbanville. Originally a resting place called “Twelfth Mile” on the Cape Town/Stellenbosch route, it was renamed Bellville in 1861 after the surveyor general of the Cape Colony, Charles Davidson Bell.
The loose Cape Flats sand made the going tough for those pulling wagons, and the relief of riders on reaching the twelfth milestone gave it a special significance. The Twelve-mile Rockstone can be seen on one of the corners of Voortrekker and Durban roads, in the heart of Bellville.
Bellville is situated in the heart of the Northern Suburbs, an area that encompasses wine routes, theatres and entertainment and shopping centres.
Tyger Valley shopping centre (corner of Bill Bezuidenhout and Willie van Schoor avenues) is the sprawling retail heart of Tygerberg, with 275 shops. A banking centre with bureau de change facilities, medical and dental facilities, and a 10-cinema complex are among its attractions, along with a large entertainment arena.
One of the better-kept secrets is High Street (corner of Door de Kraal and Durban roads) which has landscaped gardens and water features. Alongside the green belt of Elsieskraal River and opposite the Tyger Valley centre, the Willowbridge lifestyle centre (Carl Cronje Drive) is the ultimate destination for homeware and décor. Barnyard Theatre (Willowbridge Lifestyle Centre) puts on productions in a relaxed environment. Shows at this venue include plays and musicals, live bands, as well as special circus productions.
The Mayibuye Centre at the University of the Western Cape (University Avenue), which houses a collection of material from South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle, is worth a visit (by appointment only 021 959 2911) purely because most of the collection pieces were originally banned. The collection comprises material relating to all aspects of apartheid and the anti-apartheid struggle, social life and culture, and includes a photographic archive, posters and banners, oral history and collections of historical papers and art.
The Bellville Golf Club (Jip de Jager Drive) lies in the sheltered valley with wonderful views of the Hottentots Holland mountain range. The 6,000-metre 18-hole par 72 course takes you on a journey across several deceptive bunkers and five well-placed water hazards all of which follow the natural run of the land.
Stodels Garden Centre (Eversdal Road) has a reptile park showcasing more than 35 species with the aim of educating the public about the world of these slithery creatures and how best to live with them in nature and in gardens. Turn an ordinary day into an adventure with more fun for the little ones in the play park.
GrandWest Casino and Entertainment World (Vanguard Drive, Goodwood) has a host of activities for all ages. It’s a massive casino (the only one in Cape Town) with tables and slots, theatre, a cinema complex, 10-pin bowling, an amusement arcade, fast food court, ice rink, restaurants, bars and a nightclub. The Grand Arena hosts top international musicians, comedians, ice shows and circuses.
A great day out is Cool Runnings, the only toboggan track in Africa. Beneath sunny skies, these toboggans definitely aren’t running on the traditional snow and ice. Instead, Cool Runnings toboggans run on a stainless steel track, each seating one or two people. You’ll go flying down the track with 17 corners, S-bends and a tunnel. You can control your own speed with a break, but adrenaline junkies can easily reach up to a whopping 40km an hour.