Why invest in property in Knysna
A natural wonderland and paradise of lush indigenous forests, tranquil lakes and golden beaches adorns South Africa’s unspoiled southern coast. Nestling on the banks of a shimmering lagoon in the heart of this ‘Garden Route’ is the picturesque town of Knysna. Beaches, lakes, mountains and rivers provide endless opportunity for enjoyable things to do - Knysna offers excellent leisure and outdoor adventure. Within the town, craft shops, flea-markets and cosy cafe’s beckon with small-town charm and typical Knysna hospitality.
Knysna is synonymous with fine indigenous timbers, and famed for the craftsmanship of its furniture and timber products. The area is a veritable Garden of Eden: home to the only forest elephant in South Africa, the unique Knysna seahorse and the Pansy shell, the brilliantly coloured Knysna Loerie, a plethora of waterfowl and forest birds, dolphins and visiting whales.
The indigenous forests constitute the largest complex of closed-canopy forest in southern Africa, whilst the remarkable richness of the Fynbos vegetation contributes over 8000 plant species to the Cape floral kingdom. A temperate climate and a fine selection of accommodation, restaurants and enjoyable activities make Knysna the perfect holiday destination.
Knysna is experiencing an intense growth phase which is seeing this sleepy village transformed into a sizeable town. New property developments are under way, a new yacht harbour has been completed, and work has been completed on two championship golf courses, hotel and residential property development. The population is set to increase substantially as people are drawn by the charms of this tranquil environment. The town’s council is currently investigating means to match this expansion with an upturn in local industry, while the mayor is personally driving the development of an Integrated Development Plan.
Tourism and the timber industry form the cornerstones of Knysna’s economy. A plethora of guest houses and ‘bed & breakfasts’, restaurants, tour specialists, eco-adventure operators, arts and outdoor festivals, and tourism-based attractions cater for the annual avalanche of holiday-makers that descends on Knysna.
Timber is harvested from pine and gum plantations and, in controlled amounts, from indigenous forests in the area. The Thesen factory, now owned by Barlow Rand, manufactures cable drums, plyboard and other building timbers. T&B Log Homes export wooden houses to the Indian Ocean Islands, Singapore and Australia. The furniture industry continues its tradition of fine craftsmanship, using indigenous timbers like stinkwood and yellowwood, while modern furniture lines are increasingly being exported.
A relatively new industry, the manufacture of carved wooden birds and fishes, has added colour and imagination. Other products which are being exported all over the world from Knysna include fishing equipment, clay ornaments, and a patented wall-fixing system.
Knysna’s history weaves a colourful tapestry of woodcutters, sea-farers, gold-diggers and timber merchants. Whilst the town’s streets and quaint, old buildings echo with its commercial past, the rocky coast and deep, silent forests whisper of men with bows and arrows, ancient hunters, gatherers and nomads. Khoisan people inhabited the Garden Route from the Stone Age onwards, feeding on the riches of land and sea. They were displaced only after the first Dutch settlers arrived in the area during the seventeenth century. A wood-cutters post was established at George in 1776.
Knysna’s history does not begin properly until 1804, when the farm Melkhoutkraal was purchased by George Rex. He took up residence with a large entourage and established himself as a timber merchant. Rumoured to be the illegitimate son of King George III, he proceeded to become the founding father of Knysna, owning virtually all the land surrounding the lagoon.
He was instrumental in establishing Knysna as a port - soon naval and commercial ships came and went, bringing supplies in and taking timber out from the burgeoning settlements of Melville and Newhaven, which eventually united to form the town of Knysna. In February 1869, a devastating fire laid waste to thousands of acres of forest, veld and farmland. Portland Manor, the country home of the Hon. Henry Barrington, was burned to the ground. In December of that year, a Norwegian sea-faring family, the Thesens, came to settle in Knysna. They set up a coastal shipping business which became a big asset to the town, and became timber merchants and shipbuilders.
In the 1880's, gold was discovered in the forest, and the mining village of Millwoood sprang up. This was short-lived, however, as the gold yields were small and soon ran out. Only one elephant remains in the forests, and the harbour no longer functions as a port. But the town holds fond memories, and The Heads still guard the restless passage through which many a trading vessel sailed to the wide ocean beyond.
Knysna enjoys a moderate climate all year round. Lowest rainfall occurs during winter; the yearly average is 770 mm. The average temperature in January is 26º Celsius and during the winter months (June-August) fall to about 18º Celsius - still ideal conditions for outdoors activities! The Indian Ocean at Knysna is much warmer than the sea water in Cape Town; even in winter there are many days where you can go swimming.