I had a little time this morning before a short tour to head on down to the beachfront. I was going to find a spot to have a cup of coffee and kill some time, but I got distracted by the nearby “Sunken Gardens” which have been rehabilitated.
There’s two separate stories (as far as I know) as to how the gardens came to be.
Sunken Gardens version.1
During the course of World War 2, South African’s were stationed mostly in North Africa and as a result, were instrumental in capturing many Italian prisoner of war’s (POW’s). These prisoner’s needed to be shipped and imprisoned somewhere, and many of then were sent to Durban. At that time however, Durban was ill equipped to look after them, there were no prisons and little in the way of available soldiers to guard the prisoners. So the Durban did the only thing they could. The Italian prisoners were asked to give their word as gentleman, that they would not escape Durban and would behave themselves for the duration of their internment, and in doing so would have the freedom of the city.
So the deal was quite simply, behave yourselves and we wont lock you up behind barbed wire! As a sort of thank you to the city, the prisoners designed and built the gardens.
Sunken Gardens Version. 2
During the great depression years of the late 1920’s, various plans were instituted by the city to firstly allow the unemployed to earn enough to put supper on the table, and to secondly keep them busy! The Sunken Gardens (and the Amphitheater nearby) were one of the projects put into place by the city. I’m told that unemployed white lawyers worked shoulder to shoulder with blue collared workers in their efforts to put bread onto the table.
I came across a really worn coat of arms at the entrance to the Sunken Gardens but have no idea why or what. Hopefully I’ll be able to find out more next week.
The little time I had left was spent on the nearby pier watching the surfers busy catching waves on one side of the pier while fisherman threw their lines into the water on the other side (didn’t seem like much was biting though!).
I didn’t think to take my camera today, so shot what I could with my Nokia E5 cellphone. A little work in GIMP and they seemed to have come out ok.
We have a number of tours available, from morning to full day tours of Durban city, to bush tours and ‘Berg tours. Click here for more details.