NEWS CLIPS - June 2012

Progress on Sea Walls
Southern Sea Wall along Cearn & Bayswater Drives
The Leisure Isle Sea Walls were built by Mr George Cearn in the late 1920’s using rock from the Woodbourne farm. The wall spans from the Green Hole to Bollard Bay and was designed to stabilize the migrating coastline allowing areas to be developed which would otherwise be periodically inundated by the estuary. Cearn was quick to realize that the wall needed protection from the erosive effects of long shore drifts and historic photographs show groynes stretching out into the lagoon. These groynes fell into disrepair and slowly drifted into history. Remnants can be seen at low tides.

Localized repairs were undertaken and inscriptions in the concrete show a range of time frames, mainly this side of the mid-seventies. Stone revetments replaced groynes. These revetments were built informally and with time the volume of rock reduced in areas.

In 2009 fairly significant repairs were undertaken under the management of Fraser Consulting Civil Engineers. The most precarious areas were targeted with a preference for working from the Green Hole to Bollard Bay. During construction a historic section collapsed and the on-site Contractor arrested any further damage. The following photograph shows an example of the repair work undertaken in 2009.

The 2009 project was the start of phased repair works to the wall. Recently a further amount was allocated by the Knysna Municipality for the sea walls of the Greater Knysna area with the primary focus being Leisure Isle. This is a phased project that will run for many years. Each phase may be small though in a few years the wall will be as strong as new. The second photograph shows a section of the severely damaged area of wall that will now be repaired.

A very experienced Contractor was ranked first by the tender process and the signing of the contract documents by the Municipal Manager is anticipated within days. Action on site is then expected within two weeks when the Contractor and Engineer will re-survey the wall and prioritize areas before commencement of work. LIRA will have two appointees who will liaise with the Engineer throughout the construction period.

Comment from Engineer Alastair Fraser "Thanks to LIRA for your support".

Northern Steenbok Sea Wall
The Friends of Steenbok Nature Reserve Trust has received from Knysna Municipality a special grant that will enable completion during the next few weeks of essential maintenance to the Steenbok Sea Wall.

Preparation work commenced recently and the local contractor Stonemason Richard Marais moved onto site with his team at the end of last week and remedial work began. This involves removing about 40 metres of the wall in three main areas and rebuilding where necessary from foundation level upwards, and extensive filling and patching along the complete length of the wall.

The plan is for work to be completed by 6 July and during this time the contractor will be working over weekends and at times of the day to fit in with high and low tides.

This achievement is further evidence of the success of our agreement with Knysna Municipality in working together in maintaining for the benefit of residents and tourists Steenbok Nature Reserve with its unique attributes and beauty.
Disregard for the law and unruly, anti-social behaviour
Prior to the Easter weekend a full page Announcement by Knysna Municipality appeared in Action Ads signalling clear intent by the authorities to implement a total ban on the consumption of alcohol in public. Since then we have been advised that there are certain legal aspects that need to be clarified and that enforcement is clearly the responsibility of SAPS. LIRA continues to maintain regular contact with the authorities to ensure that the ban on the consumption of alcohol in public becomes an effective reality.

The controlling of entry to Leisure Isle at times of high visitation continues to be debated with Knysna Municipality who take the view that control would impinge on the rights of the public. LIRA takes the view that the residents also have rights which are being violated due to ineffective law enforcement. With the knowledge and understanding of the Municipality LIRA is currently taking legal opinion.

We have also been advised by the Municipality that additional funds are now being budgeted to allow an increase in the number of law enforcement officers which is absolutely necessary to enforce by-laws that are already in place.

There has been an attempted break-in during June - the first reported to date The alarm was activated and Allsound and LIRA guards were on the scene within minutes.

The perpetrators fled in a white Golf and flew so fast past the cameras that the registration could not be identified.

We must reiterate that windows and doors be locked when not at home, and alarms activated!

Island Personalities
Professor Brian Allanson is the new addition to our section on Island Personalities on the LIRA website. Brian, a distinguished scientist who had a long and distinguished career in the field of freshwater studies and aquatic ecology, retired from Rhodes University in 1988, and came to live on Leisure Isle with his wife Sue.

Brian has been very active in his retirement, and practices as a consulting aquatic ecologist as well as being very involved in the Knysna Basin Project, which keeps a very good eye on all developments affecting our precious estuary.

Brian shares with us some of his memories and experiences, including his trips to Antarctica on the SA Agulhas, on which he served as Chief Scientist.

Photo Gallery
We are delighted to announce the results of our second Leisure Isle Photographic competition. We received 63 entries. All were then coded so that our independent judges were not aware of the photographers’ identity. This year our screening judges were Jill Fraser and Carol Kennedy. They produced a short-list of 26 images.

The short-listed entries were than given to Rob and Bev Wood, two committee members of the Knysna Photographic Society, who decided on the five finalists and the winning image of 2012. This was also a "blind judging" process. All four of the judges commented on the high standard of photography. Our thanks to our four judges.

The five finalist images were submitted by Shelley Godsell, Jacqui Johnston and Margaret Richards and the winning image, entitled “The Pied Piper” was from the camera of Margaret Richards. LIRA congratulates the winners and all who participated.

Visit Photo Gallery on to view all photos short listed for judging.

History of Leisure Island
Vicky Williams recently gave a talk to the Knysna Historical Society on the history of Leisure Island. The talk, that was much talked about by those who attended, was recorded and has now been converted to a CD.

Some of the interesting facts recorded include:
  • The earliest print of the Island appeared on the first chart published in 1804
  • The Island, which then belonged to the Colonial Government, was ceded to George Rex on 9 February 1821
  • In 1865 a red arrow-headed beacon - a triangle with slats across it - was set up on the Island as a marker for shipping,
  • In 1925 Mr George Cearn, arrived in Knysna with his wife Ethel on their second visit,
  • Cearn was determined to create a new residential area at Knysna and to people it with reasonably priced dwellings – family homes.
  • His major and first task was to make the Island easily reached from the mainland. To that end he built the causeway across the tidal vlei.
  • It took three years to build the seawall round the Island.
  • Four hundred and ninety-nine plots were to be for disposal and a system was being considered to assist purchasers of the first fifty plots to build their own dwellings – or to pay for them by extended instalments.
  • In 1933 George Cearn was occupied in having the 9-hole Golf Course laid out.
The CD costs are
  • For collection at the Museum 1 CD R50.00
  • By post within RSA (standard letter post - not parcel post - not including registration, insurance, etc.)
    • 1 CD - R65.00
    • 2 CDs - R117.50
    • 5 CDs - R300.00
  • Parcels larger than a 2xCD pack in a mailer envelope will have to go parcel post which starts around R30.00 per parcel.
  • The UK: 1 CD - R85.00
As we do not know what the demand for CDs to be collected at the museum will be buyers are asked to email their requirements to the Historical Society at

Contact Us
  • Join the fun in Steenbok Park on Sunday morning 8 July for the Pick 'n Pay Rotary children bicycle races – one of the features of the Oyster Festival
  • Diarise the weekend of 20/21 October for the Leisure Isle Festival. If you would like to help in the organization of this charitable event give Peter a ring on 044 384 1753.
  • One of our readers commented "I have always felt there are far too many commercial signboards throughout the island and on the causeway". What are your views? Let us know at

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