Be part of the inside story of Wasteland – Graced land

Going truly local in Melkhoutfontein – Welcome!

Wasteland – Graced Land, is a unique, exciting new visitor destination in South Africa. Situated in the community of Melkhoutfontein, Wasteland – Graced Land offers mutually inclusive, authentically local ‘life-as lived’ encounters between people, history and nature, enjoyed by everyone in a uniquely contributing, fun way. What is more, the entire day or overnight and scrumptious food experience services offered, are wholly owned by local, well-trained welcoming, professional home grown enterprises!

Taking a decade to develop, Wasteland – Graced Land, was spearheaded by the Dreamcatcher Foundation, in close partnership with the community of Melkhoutfontein, enabling new tourism enterprises who in turn create work and improve quality of life where they live. The ground breaking initiative has re-imagined an inspiring multi-faceted experience, actively contributing to the transformation and growth of the tourism sector in South Africa.

Pairing local women and youth with tourism has resulted in a powerful partnership to effect sustainable change in their community. The tourism service providers and entrepreneurs share their unique culture, ancient history, merge it with their environment and offer visitors the chance to become part of it in a unique uplifting way.

The Wasteland – Graced Land Melkhoutfontein experience enables harmonious interdependency of people, lifestyle and nature to work together to facilitate sustainable living. As discerning global citizens, visitors have the unique chance to experience and impact positively on the UN2030 Sustainable Development Goals in a fun-filled adventure of activities, turning aspiration to actively addressing more than a dozen of the Goals.

Locally and globally there is growing recognition that Wasteland – Graced Land is a positive example of sustainable tourism through local enterprise and destination development with positive outcomes for the people and sound environmental stewardship in an inter-generational way. Most importantly this positive tourism experience shares how one community is actualising itself, inspiring visitors and other communities. That’s good isn’t it?

Welcome to Melkhoutfontein!

Where Wasteland – Graced Land is

  • Geographically situated in the Hessequa region in South Africa, Melkhoutfontein lies within The Gouritz Biosphere Cluster Reserve, a UN declared biodiversity region. It is also in one of the top 4 tourist destinations in South Africa, namely the Garden Route, in the Western Cape.
  • Situated close to the N.2 one of the major visitor travel routes linking Cape Town with the Garden Route and Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. It’s also situated close to where the Blombos cave was discovered in 1991 sharing significant insight into the expression of humanity through art and artefacts found in the cave.
  • Some residents of Melkhoutfontein through DNA testing, have been found to be descendants of the Hessequa KhoeKhoen, the first nation living in the South West Cape. The KhoeKhoen were the first people with whom pioneers engaged and bartered for cattle, grazing and food.

What can visitors expect?

As visitors leave their vehicle, they cross the divide from spectator to engager finding themselves in the company of special people living in an extraordinary community, reinventing itself. Connected and in synch with the moment, visitors and the locals participate and learn about and with Melkhoutfontein, in a harmonious, participative, fun engagement “fest”.

Sharing mutuality, visitors experience that people here are really listening as they engage in face to face encounters and activities together. some of whom are now known to be descendants of the ancient KhoeKhoen, the ‘forgotten first people’ of the Southern Cape. They are making a difference together. The’ Wasteland – Graced Land’ experience is therefore a chance to be part of the ’survivor’ team and proactively contribute to the local economy through their visit.

With a brush of a skilled or unskilled hand (everyone welcome), visitors paint alongside the locals learning about their ancient history and humanities on the project called “The Awakening’, recreating history on the PaintUp with Kamamma Mural project OR’; help to clear and sort recycling which is then used to make crafts; clear areas of invader plant specie, for planting indigenous botanical specie; help develop a bird atlas; count how many indigenous plant specie or identify botanical specie which have returned spontaneously where invader vegetation has been removed.

Try your hand to get involved in the “Arts and Crafts for Humanity project” at the restored St. Augustine’s church (first church to be built in the area). Built from Calcrete stone indigenous to the area, the church is situated on ancient local burial grounds and where too the remains of visitors, soldiers and pioneers of ancient times lie alongside those of the local community.

At lunch or dinner time, where wholesome, healthy food is enjoyed, picking vegetables and herbs from a 100% organically grown home garden for your meal is part of the experience. CookUp local traditional food with the famous Kamammas (local women). Visitors, now totally at home, are not surprized to be reminded of their youth, as giggling local children hug their knees, while listening to many local stories and sharing their own.

Those who choose to stay overnight, retire to the branded Homestay with Kamamma accommodation, proudly owned and run by your local host, where a comfortable room, fresh food cooked from scratch and a ten star welcome awatsstar welcome!

Background information

dreamcatcher-wasteland-graced-landIn its past, the people of Melkhoutfontein experienced harsh socio-economic and impeded, recurring poverty and social deprivation. Yet as visitors join the locals, they feel and see that here, hope is the last to die – and that they are truly connecting with the country and its people. experiencing it in a different, positive, forward thinking (and moving) participative manner.

Since our founding, almost 30 years ago, Dreamcatcher has been committed to work in partnerships focused on transcending the status quo to deliberately develop impactful projects with sustainable outcomes, to stimulate tourism, and a new order of involved sustainable tourist enterprises and to facilitate a sustainable environment in local communities. We specifically work in a mutually inclusive approach, with individuals and communities living in harsh socio-economic circumstances close to natural environments to develop the local economic circumstances. In this regard innovated projects must work for people IN nature as we view them interconnected and mutually affecting each other.

  • dreamcatcher-graced-landThe site of the ‘La Bloemen’ Botanical Garden, the St. Augustine’s Church grounds and the Arts, Craft and Humanity Centre is situated on approx. 5 hectares of land, on the peripheral of the community of Melkhoutfontein. Melkhoutfontein was situated between 2 waste sites and has historically been the dumping ground of the area for decades. Today this is a changed environment. The botanical garden is now where the one dumpsite used to be.
  • The aim of the community, working side by side with Dreamcatcher and visitor, restoring nature, re-awakening the historical roots which offers gripping knowledge and insight into understanding all of humanity.
  • Wasteland – Graced Land is creating work and proud local tourism enterprises, particularly focusing on women and youth. They are contributing to the local economy.
  • The indigenous fynbos, for which this specific area is famous, was decimated here by the import and planting of the invader specie Acacia Cyclops to stabilize the dunes for building purposes in neighbouring resort town of Stilbaai and other surrounding regions on the south coast.
  • The research, planning and development phase of Wasteland – Graced Land project took 10 years to develop in conjunction with the community.
  • It is an integrated development plan and each phase adds value and feeds into the total project, with an inherent range of diverse job and micro-business development opportunities built into the project. Health and wellness is also addressed.
  • Enables sustained work, manufacturing and enterprise development amongst women and youth. The community is using recycling and the invader wood specie to produce unique crafts. Using what there is in their community as a resource to develop micro-businesses, provides a sustainable solution to facilitate income and contributes to restoring the environment.

What is included in the experience

  • Meet, greet, Walkabout and Talkabout with local guide services with Boetie or Sisi (brother or sister) the community of Melkhoutfontein
  • Lunch and dinner (day excursion) (groups of up to 24 can be accommodated but contact for further information if larger as then the groups are split to ensure a high quality experience)
  • CookUp with Kamamma, herb tasting and picking your own organic salad and herbs for your meal
  • PaintUp with Kamamma
  • Entrance and planting of indigenous Fynbos plants on the botanical garden contributing to the restoration of the environment
  • Visiting the ancient shell middens and fish traps to step back in time, stack a rock and contribute to history
  • Try your hand a identifying bird and botanical specie on site
  • Help out to identify recycling for used for crafting and you can buy local crafts already in production
  • Overnight accommodation on bed and breakfast basis (overnight excursion highly recommended). Groups of up to 18 people can be accommodated.
  • Visiting St. Augustine’s Church Grounds and Centre for Arts and Humanity currently in development. Share in the future with the locals.
  • Viewing the ancient artefacts left by the Khoekhoen, descendants of the people of Melkhoutfontein
  • Entrance to the interpretation -and craft producing centre when it is completed.

More information

World Heritage Sites within the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve – Wasteland Graceland
Biosphere reserve – Gouritz Cluster
Dreamcatcher Experience – Crafting with Bhuti and Sisi