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

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