Doesn’t that sound so inviting? It’s a greeting that’s warm and welcoming, just like us South Africans. Hello Darling is also the name of Darling Tourism’s new brand, which fits this eccentric little West Coast town like a gardening glove.
Last weekend, I attended the launch of Hello Darling at the Darling Wildflower Show. The show was a culmination of all the little things that make the town so colourful (like art, live music, local food, and craft beer) and then of course there’s the main attraction: THE FLOWERS.
At spring time, Cape Town’s West Coast comes alive with a blanket of floral colour. It extends from the ocean to the road and wraps snugly around towns like Darling. At the show, all the types of flowers found in the area were on display as you’d see them in their natural habitat. And tractor rides through the fields offered some fresh air and another dose of floral.
But to get up close and literally smell the roses (I mean daisies) is where the flower party’s really at. There are various spots surrounding Darling where you can hop out the car and do just that. Just be careful not to trample the little guys (and refrain from picking them) but otherwise grab your camera, get up close and snap away.
Since it’s a long weekend coming up (yay for Heritage Day) and long weekends are for exploring, here are a couple more things to check out in Darling:
1. Darling Sweet
You can buy these hand-crafted toffees at various outlets in South Africa, but it’s always more fun to visit the HQ. I took a day trip to Darling last year and had to pop in at Darling Sweet. Inside, antique cupboards filled with vintage toffee boxes line the wall, and the tasting room opens onto a small gallery. My family and I chewed our way through all the tasters, and I did much the same thing at their stand at the Wildflower Show last weekend #NoShame. Ten outta ten would recommend the coffee flavour, but my dad would have you know the liquorice is the best and then there’s also *new* flavours which I’m yet to try. The moral of the story is you might as well get them all, chuck ’em into a jar and then every time you take one it’ll be a surprise (genius, I tell you).
2. Duckitt Nurseries
While Darling is synonymous with the wild flower, it’s also home to another variety: the orchid. Last weekend my parents stumbled across Duckitt Nurseries, mistakenly thinking it was the Wildflower Show. Instead, they’d discovered a GIANT greenhouse filled with rows and rows AND ROWS of the most gorgeous orchids. Which you can also buy and then load into your car for a v sweet-smelling journey home.
Duckitt Nurseries is only open on the first Saturday of the month between May and November. That means the next one is only in October but it’s definitely worth the wait.
3. Craft beer…
…and cider (like D’Cider). And gin (like Darlington Gin). And brandy (like Vuilhond). Yip, that’s quite the variety of hand-crafted alcohol. But, Darling is a place filled with talented people and this is just another expression of that.
Speaking of craft beer though, Darling Brew is probably one of the town’s most famous names. I went to the brewery last year for beer and burgers with the fam and it was om nom nom (coming in hot with some lunch inspo right here).
4. !Khwa ttu San Culture and Education centre
Last year, I was privileged enough to visit this San heritage and education centre with the West Coast Way team (read the full story here). The San are considered the First People of South Africa and !Khwa ttu, found en route Darling, offers a unique glimpse into their culture and traditions. Here we learnt about their way of life from the San themselves, lunched together on a meal made of local ingredients and enjoyed a game drive through the nature reserve that !Khwa ttu calls home.
The grand opening of the centre’s new museum takes place on Heritage Day this Monday which could be an awesome way to celebrate our diverse South African culture.
5. The Splitpiece murals
These murals were another unexpected find. As we drove through Darling East, I noticed that all the houses on one street were decorated with giant art pieces. Turns out that these are part of a project called Splitpiece, where 31 murals were created in Akkerboom Street to form a “living gallery”. It’s the brain child of graffiti artist Falko One, who also collaborated with Jadas and Nardstar on this project. I was so in awe that I didn’t think to pick up my camera (classic Emma) so I guess now you have to go see it for yourself.
Darling really is a town filled with talent and creativity and beautiful things. Happy (almost) Heritage Day to my Saffa babes and have an adventure-filled weekend!
I’m off on a road trip to Port Elizabeth on Thursday so follow that adventure over on Instagram.