BRACKENBURN IN A PECAN NUTSHELL.
Brackenburn was once long ago part of the William Newdigate estate of Forest Hall in The Crags. Forest Hall lies south east of Brackenburn and they share a boundary line.
The wonderful green fields and open parkland which today host the homestead and its cottages were long ago great forests of Yellow wood and Stink wood trees..
Great swathes of the densely forested hillsides were stripped of primary forest via logging concessions issued for this purpose.
Aerial photography from 1932 shows the devastation.
Around 1950 Albert Pringle and his wife, Cynthia, bought two adjacent portions of land totalling 150 hectares in extent. This became Brackenburn. The Buffels River meanders through it. Albert built the homestead, adding on to an existing cottage and massively enlarging it. Typical of farm houses at that time, the rooms are generous with lovely wooden floor and ceilings. Albert ran a Dohne Merino sheep stud. He planted the pecan nut trees which now offer welcome shade in the fields.
In 1984 Bunny (Bernice) Berge bought Brackenburn from Albert Pringle. She and her daughter, Brenda, became the new owners of the magical property.
Besides planting trees and extending the garden, Bunny created marvellous miniatures using pussy willow blossoms and objects from the forest. These she called her Field and Forest Creatures. Bunny also grew strawberries. The cottages were upgraded with the intention of creating peaceful holiday accommodation offering wonderful forest walks.
Brackenburn was registered as a Private Nature Reserve in 2001. Under the guidance of Cape Nature and SANParks, the healthy population of a myriad species of fauna and flora is ensured. Generations of Bushbuck, porcupine, Blue Duiker, honey badger, bush pigs along with endless lists of birds, frogs, butterflies and other insects flourish undisturbed.
Over the years the forest has regenerated to the point that huge trees now dominate and entrance with their curtains of waving “old man’s beard”. The wildlife is varied, numerous and healthy. The forest floor lies deep in undergrowth and fern.
Cameras set along the forest paths have captured photos of leopard; blue duiker; bush buck; porcupine; bush pig; genet; baboon; Vervet monkeys; skunks; caracal; and honey badger.
The lists of identified birds; snakes; amphibians; bugs and spiders grow as more hikers return with treasured photos.
Bunny passed away in 2004 and Brenda, as owner, now continues to take care of Brackenburn.
Guided hikes, offered by a professional FGASA guide (see Brimful Adventure Trails), take guests along forest paths on a wonderful journey of woodland discovery. Perhaps down to the the river banks where chirping frogs await or otter scats and leopard spoor add a frisson of excitement. The forest floor provides endless opportunities for unusual finds and wonderful photos.
Comfortable country cottages on the Reserve offer accommodation to couples or families who wish to spend more time exploring Brackenburn as well as experiencing the many delights The Crags and Nature’s valley have to offer.