Ramsgate – watch this space!

THE secret is out!

The folk of Ramsgate have been hard at work planning the way forward for an exciting ‘eco-tourism node’. Plans have been submitted for the upgrading of a derelict ablution block next to the BP garage, into an eco-tourism information kiosk.

This is one of the last pieces needed to transform this coastal stretch (from Ramsgate’s Whale Deck to the main beach) into a lively hub for visitors.

A spectacular view of the main beach from Ramsgate Whale Deck. PHOTO BY VEE RAMSAYI

A spectacular view of the main beach from Ramsgate Whale Deck. PHOTO BY VEE RAMSAYI

There have however been obstacles along the way. Behind the scenes there are reams and reams of paperwork to show for the years of work that have gone into this community project.

Local business people, Pauline Lee of Ramsgate Tourism and John Makin of Ramsgate Conservancy, are two of the many volunteers involved, but many others like the architect, land surveyor and engineer have done work pro bono.

This joint venture project between the Ramsgate Conservancy and Ramsgate Tourism Committee has now raised enough funds, with the help of Ugu South Coast Tourism and generous private donors, to go ahead with the project.

The upgrade will not change the original footprint of the ablution block which is situated on conservation land under the custodianship of Ramsgate Conservancy.

If everything goes according to plan, Ramsgate tourists and those travelling south over the iBilanhlolo bridge, will also be met with landscaped indigenous gardens and a public park, eco-tourism info kiosk and public ablutions, the Whale Deck and Environmental Education Centre, linking to the lovely Marine Ramble.

Changes are also proposed to create extra parking on the main street to allow for more visitors to the area. It’s part of an urban renewal vision that Ramsgate ratepayers presented to council earlier this year but progress is slow.

Imagine, one would be able to spend an entire day rambling along Ramsgate’s Marine Drive, visiting quaint places while enjoying picturesque, sweeping Indian Ocean views just metres from the sand and surf.

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An artist’s impression of the new and improved stretch on Marine Drive, Ramsgate.

When one thinks Ramsgate – magical spots like the Ramsgate Whale Deck and Enviro Centre, the Waffle House, Riverbend Crocodile Farm, the Trading Post’s Banana Tour, Bellevue Park, Tanglewood Forest, Blue Flag beach, the Blue Lagoon, the Butterfly Valley, S’Khumba Crafts, the Lions’ Community Centre, the Marine Ramble, Pistol’s Saloon the Crayfish Inn, art galleries and antique shops – all spring to mind.

What blows visitors away is that most of Ramsgate’s attractions are within walking distance of each other.

Then, of course, let’s not forget the delightful restaurants and star-graded range of accommodation, self-catering and B&Bs, that the quaint town has to offer.

The pretty view from Ramsgate's Ski -boat Bay.

The Beach Walk leads down to Ramsgate’s main beach and lagoon.

Much of Ramsgate’s success has been made possible by a dynamic team of individuals, who have joined forces to form non-profit organisations, such as the Ramsgate Conservancy, the Ramsgate Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association, Ramsgate Tourism Committee and the Ramsgate Community Police Forum. They are working tirelessly behind the scenes to make Ramsgate what it is today.

“We are so fortunate to have local committees that have dedicated hours to the many projects in Ramsgate, for the good of all. All residents need to realise we don’t live in a vacuum… we have to look after the whole.

If the area grows economically, more people can be employed and everyone benefits from the spin-offs, – Pauline Lee.

Sally Booker of the Ramsgate Conservancy said that the conservancy has also been very busy eradicating alien plants from the park area next to the community centre. This is a very special piece of swamp forest that forms a ‘green- lung’ in the centre of Ramsgate and is home to wildlife such as the otter, monkey and duiker. “The conservancy also does extensive alien eradication along the main road. We have been very busy this month working on the section of road next to the main beach entrance,” she said.

Take a walk to Tanglewood Forest and to Ramsgate's main beach from the Waffle House, which was established in 1957. This historical South Coast landmark is nestled on the tranquil sub-tropical edge of the Ramsgate Lagoon.

Take a walk to Tanglewood Forest and to Ramsgate’s main beach from the Waffle House, which was established in 1957. This historical South Coast landmark is nestled on the tranquil sub-tropical edge of the Ramsgate Lagoon.

An important private development that will also add great value to Ramsgate is the planned renovation of the famous Crayfish Inn, but a few hitches regarding zoning need to be ironed out before plans can go ahead.

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Motorists driving along Ramsgate’s main road can view the town’s scenic lagoon and beach.

Another important community initiative driven by the Ramsgate Ratepayers, in collaboration with the Ramsgate CPF, is the instituting of a ‘Special Rating Area’ for Ramsgate which will provide funds to improve security in the area, a key priority for all. Only 200 votes are needed to secure this special rating at the cost of R45 per month. Anyone interested can contact Olliver Ransome at oransome@telkomsa.net

The Ramsgate Conservancy is looking for volunteers to be the secretary,  to conduct testing of river water or to adopt one of various hot spots and keep it litter-free. Contact Sally Booker at bellevue@telkomsa.net or 039 3166097.

Everyone is asked to go and like the Ramsgate Facebook page so they can be kept in the know as to what is happening in their community.

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  AUTHOR
Shona Aylward
Reporter

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