This story was first published on 14 June 2016 and was updated by Leigh Hermon on 9 October 2018.
So you thought Dullstroom was just Mpumalanga’s flyfishing Mecca? This Town of the Year finalist for 2015 has plenty more to offer. Here are six more things to do in Dullstroom.
Dinner at Mrs Simpson’s
Bryan Wolmarans and Stephen de Meyer are a Dullstroom institution, having run restaurants here for 21 years. So why the name Mrs Simpson’s? Well, there’s a fishing fly with the name, and Bryan is fascinated by Wallis Simpson. “She caught the biggest trophy – the King of England,” says Bryan. He collects memorabilia to do with that historic time and also has a collection of shoes that hangs on the dado rails including Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik. The restaurant is filled with interesting objects, and is famous for its great food – it featured in the Eat Out Top 500 restaurants in 2014 and 2015. Try the lamb shanks and the chicken prawn curry, and you’ll know why. Look out for Wallis the cat who is happy to eat leftovers.
For another food experience pop into Bergen Cheese where they have a wide variety of homemade cheeses that you can taste.
Mrs Simpson’s +27 (0) 13 254 0088
Bergen Cheese +27 (0) 13 254 0074
Anyone who knows Dullstroom knows The Blue Shop, which is now 101 years old. This is your classic smalltown general dealer with everything piled up on shelves. I remember buying my first gumboots there as a child and it’s always been the place to buy your flyfishing equipment. The 5th-generation Vaid family still run it, and Fatima and her daughters, Sabeeah and Khadeejah, are always happy to help. Arbee’s at the other end of town is more like a supermarket but has everything you might have forgotten to take on holiday.
The Blue Shop +27 (0) 13 254 0173
Antiquing at Trams Antiques & Collectibles
“You never know what treasure you will find,” says Wilma Hunter, manager of Trams Antiques. Owners Sue Meiring and Guy Williams spend their time sourcing new bits and bobs from deceased estates and house clearances – anything from silver jewellery to copper kitchenware and Toby jugs, teaspoons to furniture. I coveted an old blue travelling trunk but dithered too long and when I went back sadly it was gone. At the bottom end of town near the Dullstroom Inn is their sister shop Trams Trading with second-hand furniture, where they also do some furniture renovation.
Trams Antiques +27 (0) 13 254 0121
The tagline for this shop is “A magic corner of time” and this really is a strange little gem in a tiny town like Dullstroom. It began as a toy shop and then the Finders Keepers competition (with a million rand up for grabs) made Dullstroom famous when the loot was found behind the clock in the Dullstroom Inn. And so co-owner Michelle Meacher says the idea of expanding the clock side of the business grew. Now this shop is filled with clocks of all shapes and sizes from miniatures to grandfather clocks. People send clocks from across South Africa for clock repairs, and you can also have a customised clock made for you, or buy a grandfather clock kit and make your own.
The Clock Shop +27 (0) 13 254 0022
Hooked at Mavungana Flyfishing
What would Dullstroom be without flyfishing and all the kit that goes with it? Every flyfisherman knows that you have to buy new flies each time you fish and where better than consulting with the experts at Mavungana? Owner Jonathan Boulton began by stocking and looking after other people’s waters. John Thobala started as his assistant and really only knew about bait fishing but is now a fly convert. The two of them run flyfishing trips across the world, will advise you on what to buy, and offer flyfishing waters for you to try out in the Dullstroom area. They also have a lovely range of leather bags, both travel and fishing bags, which you can see being made on the premises.
Mavungana Flyfishing +27 (0) 13 254 0270
Tastings at Wild About Whiskey
The way owner Dave Gunns explains how they started their whisky tasting shop begins like this. “After going on a distilling trip to Scotland my wife, Eve, and I came back juiced up on culture, heritage and whisky. Our tenant had just given notice so we decided to introduce South Africa to Scotland’s whisky.” From just an initial nine bottles on offer they now have 1 180 varieties and they know them all. When you start you might not be so keen on whisky but I promise you it is a fascinating experience. For craft-beer tasting try Anvil Ale House at the other end of town.
Wild About Whisky +27(0) 82 600 5388
Anvil Ale House +27 (0) 73 168 6603
Words and Photography Sue Adams