The Cape as a Refreshment Station

Hazardous Trade Route

After the Portuguese came to the Cape, the ships of many nations plied the rich but hazardous trade route to the East. And then the Dutch East India Company, the world's first trading mega corporation, had a bright idea: establish a refuelling station at the Cape to replenish their ships, make loads of money from others, and generally control the valuable shipping lane. 

©Roger de la Harpe
The Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town.

To head the task force they chose a ship's surgeon, Jan Van Riebeeck, and gave him three vessels, material, and 82 men and 8 women, including his wife Maria, to plant a garden. Van Riebeeck did, plant vegetables, grains, fruit trees and even vines, which apparently produced wine only sailors would drink. The tiny settlement grew and spread out from the beach on Table Bay. You can see Van Riebeeck's legacy in Cape Town's Company's Garden and at the Castle of Good Hope.

By David Bristow

History of The Cape of Good Hope

At first, there was very little European interest in the Cape of Storms. The waters around the headland were turbulent and so were the natives. Still, even though Table Bay was a useful anchorage (especially if the seas were stormy)...more

Jan Van Riebeeck Arrives at the Cape

So, in 1652 - one hundred and fifty years after Bartolomeu Dias rounded the Cape - a former ship’s surgeon sailed into Table Bay. His name was Jan Anthoniszoon van Riebeeck, and he was charged with the task of establishing a refreshment station...more

Surviving as a Free Burgher in The Cape

As time went by in die 1600’s, illegal trade with the Khoikhoi became a popular way of making a few extra guilders for the Free Burghers, despite the strict Dutch East india Company or VOC (Vereenigde Landsche Ge-Oktroyeerde Oostindische Compagnie)...more

The Castle of Good Hope

When the Dutchman Jan van Riebeeck landed in the Cape in 1652, he set out to build a fortress to govern from. During the early years of the Cape Colony, many people were imprisoned in the castle dungeons....more

The Free Burghers in the Cape

The first title deeds were granted around a clump of thorn trees called ‘Het Ronde doornbosjen’ – now simply called Rondebosch – but, over the years, the Free Burghers spread along the river and beyond....more