As it’s described by one of the locals and Smithfield is indeed a frontier town at first glance. The highway cuts straight through the middle and it’s not very pretty on either side, but drive down the side roads and you will discover an altogether different vibe.
An artists’ retreat
It appears that artists and writers have escaped to this small dorp, to do what they do best in tranquil surroundings. On the last weekend in June, the town hosts the Platteland Preview Arts Festival where some performers, on their way to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, showcase their talents and hone their work.
During the rest of the year it’s a sleepy hollow worth the visit for the surrounding beauty, the art galleries or just to chill on the stoep with a good book from the eclectic bookstore in town.
Hedonist Hippy recommends
Trading Places – owned by award winning journalist and writer Carmel Rickard. We were welcomed with a great cup of coffee which lifted the spirits after a long and dusty drive. The accommodation (self-catering with breakfast) is artistically and very comfortably furnished with a kitchen space available to all rooms. The owners are charming and charismatic and we sat on the shady stoep swapping life stories like old friends!
The Laughing Likkewaan – we were there on a Sunday night and it was no problem for Greg, the owner, to offer us dinner. It is essential to book ahead and it seems he’s happy to cook any night of the week. He prepares the food himself and we were delighted by an Asian inspired set menu which was incredibly delicious! The setting, along with the man, is fascinating with art collected from around the world and displayed to great effect. Greg is more than happy to chat about his travels and has a wealth of knowledge of art and literature.
Fresh Paint Art Gallery – housed in a gloriously colourful building on Voortrekker Road it is easily found by looking for the two blue stone dogs in the front. The gallery showcases local and national artists and is a great place to browse.
Smithfield Books – also based in the same building as the art gallery it is one of the largest bookstores we’ve come across in such a small dorp! Catering for all tastes, with some rare first editions to boot, it’s an Aladdin’s cave well worth exploring.
Discover the side roads
Definitely worth a detour off the highway for an over night stop of longer if you’re in need of relaxation and the chance of conversing with delightful and eccentric characters! For further info look at their website www.smithfield.co.za
Where to find it