The Reserve

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 ploughed fields planted with sweet potatoes.

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.

Double page Buffels (1024x457)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.

A Dohne merino sheep stud operated for a while, but as with Albert’s sheep, leopard predation determined a change in farming operations.dohne_association_sheep_01

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.

In 2001 Brenda undertook the establishment of Brackenburn Private Nature Reserve under the guidance of the then Western Cape Nature Conservation Board.

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. Several options as to possible tourism ventures were looked at, but none quite fit the bill.

1st page (1024x413)Now as 2015 dawns, the fortunes of Brackenburn look to follow a new and exciting future.

After long discussion, and under the combined vast experience of field guiding and zoology of Mark Jones and Polly Bramham, together with Brenda, Brackenburn CREW will be launched.

Together with a dedicated team of vets, environmentalists and sponsors a wildlife rehabilitation facility, which incorporates a strong environmental education component, will be developed. This will be run on strict rehabilitate and release ethics and will offer at the same time a holistic experience of the environment into which the rehabilitated creatures will be released.

Mark has created several YOUTUBE shorts and has a blog, which offer wonderful information. Also please keep our contact number handy in the event that you find a wild animal or bird in distress and in need of urgent care.