For modern day travellers the concept of being stuck next to the Gamtoos River for a few days while flood waters dissipate would be unthinkable as they drive over the N2 bridge that now spans the river.
Yet, for travellers in the mid 1800’s, a pontoon was the only way to cross the Gamtoos River and it often happened that carts and wagons were delayed on either side of the river for several days owing to the inability to cross due to flood waters.
The Gamtoos River was once the eastern border of the Cape Colony and trekboers reached the area in the 1700’s.
There is plenty of evidence that the early inhabitants of the Gamtoos Valley were the ancestors of the KhoiSan and the area is rich in shell middens and burial sites.
The word Gamtoos comes from the Khoisan language and means “Place of the Roaring Lion”.
As trade continued to grow in the wider Jeffreys Bay area during the late 1800’s, the need for a bridge grew.
The road winding down to the valley to the Gamtoos was also the main road connecting the Eastern part of the country to the Western side.
It was only in 1895 that the single lane bridge over the Gamtoos River was opened for traffic.
It took several years to plan and build the bridge owing to the unfavourable conditions of the bed of the river for solid foundations but was eventually completed and opened on the 3rd December 1895.
Nowadays there is the option of taking the N2 and its mostly farm vehicles that make use of the old bridge going over the Gamtoos River.
It is well worth visiting the Gamtoos Ferry Hotel and checking out the old bridge from there.