Ben Brooks, Fish Hoek
The proposed closure and long-term lease of the area occupied by the Galley Restaurant has been widely discussed of late.
The beach is Fish Hoek’s greatest attraction and this change (if it takes place) would have a major impact. I am a relative newcomer to Fish Hoek and I am tremendously impressed by the beach. I consider it one of the finest in the world and that judgement ranges over hundreds of beaches from Bondi and others in Australia to many in our country. Other letters or articles will celebrate the strengths and beauties of our beach.
This is about two major threats or opportunities. The northern boundary of the beach is adjacent to Seaside Cottages, a complex which attracts hundreds of short-term visitors each year and also houses permanent residents.
In addition, it is open to folk who wish to ramble through.
“Ownership” of these cottages is a complex issue but there is time to debate that later as most leases have been renewed (albeit with some difficulty) relatively recently. If owners can be assured that there will be at least one more renewal they will invest in their cottages and contribute to the cost of improving security. Those of us who lived through the insane days of apartheid rejoice that this beautiful beach is open to all. But security will always be an issue on any public property.
The southern boundary of the beach is the Jager Walk (usually called the Cat Walk). The Galley, the Bistro and the take away are features of this area and vast numbers of patrons enjoy these facilities daily. I felt a need to find out more about the issues relating to the possible closure and long-term lease.
I know that Herbie and Mathea Eichel certainly create jobs and they also bring income to our village from tourists. They support a vast number of initiatives and activities and their generous, effective and largely unsung sponsorship of bursaries and schools is their most commendable contribution. In addition they offer a real family approach. Their service and cuisine are superb and their prices are reasonable. They share their lovely venue with all: recent examples are the relaxed opportunities to listen and dance to live music on Friday evenings as well as the Human Rights Day celebration. Anyone can attend these convivial gatherings, there is no entrance charge and prices are not pumped up to cover costs. In addition they work with Mach 1 to make this a secure environment.
I was distressed at the thought of all these things being lost to Fish Hoek and asked Herbie, a busy man, to make time to have a chat with me. We discussed the issue for an hour. Now I feel a lot better.
I believe that both ends of this splendid beach should be cherished and protected. If they are not, Fish Hoek will see its most important resource lose its unique charm. Seaside will be debated later. Right now we need to realise that the Galley is integral to this place. We need to know the facts and not be influenced by uninformed, sometimes malicious, gossip. Herbie sent me a fact sheet soon after our chat. It is concise and impressive. It will assist us to make informed comments.
I hope and pray that the authorities will listen to the residents and that the residents will provide constructive and balanced views. Let’s do it together, the stakes are high. The above is written in my personal capacity after discussions with many knowledgeable residents. It does not necessarily represent the opinion of any committee or group.