Rondebosch Common has a long history as an open space for public use. This valuable 40 ha block lies in a built-up area surrounded by established homes, schools and hospitals. The area supports a natural remnant of the Critically Endangered Cape Flats Sand Fynbos, with patches of renosterveld, and is also a seasonal wetland.
Over 300 plant species have been verified on the site, of which nine appear in the Red Data List, whilst 110 different bird species have also been recorded. The common is very popular among locals, who can be seen jogging, walking their dogs, exercising and enjoying the open space every day.
A rundown on Rondebosch Common
When the Dutch settled in the Cape in the 1600s, they noted that the early inhabitants, the Goringhaiqua, migrated through the area every year with their herds, using the vegetation for animal grazing. In 1805 to 1806, the common was a rallying place for the Batavian (Dutch) farmers before the Battle of Blaauwberg, and for the conquering British forces after the battle. Troops also used the area during the Anglo-Boer War in 1899, and World War I and II. In 1855, the rector of St Paul’s Church was given permission to graze his cattle on the land, on the condition that it would remain open for public use. Over the years, bits and pieces of the land were lopped off and put to various uses, for example the building of the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. Pine trees were planted to surround patches of land used for cemeteries. Today the cemeteries are gone, but the pine trees remain. Rugby, football, cricket and golf have all been played in Rondebosch Common, starting as far back as 1860. Today, formal sports have moved to better facilities, but cricket pitches, raised golf greens and a grassy rugby field can still be found near the car park. In 1961, Rondebosch Common was proclaimed a National Monument. Today, this large stretch of common land enjoys conservation status, and is administered by the City of Cape Town.
ADDRESS: Park and Campground Roads, Rondebosch
OPENING HOURS: Not applicable
SIZE: 40 ha
ENTRANCE FEE: None
PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Taxi, bus or train
ACTIVITIES: Spring flower-spotting, history rambles, running, dog walking
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION: No formal programmes, but suitable for nature and history lessons
FRIENDS GROUP: The Friends of Rondebosch Common keep the area clean, safe and free from litter and fire. The group controls the spread of alien vegetation, organises spring walks, keeps information boards updated, and has compiled a book on the common’s history, fauna and flora.
CONTACT: City Parks Tel 021 689 9141
Source: City of Cape Town (2010) City of Cape Town nature reserves: A network of amazing biodiversity. City of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.