Posted by Susan Houghton
20 July, 2013
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My Favourite Things

In 1972, newlyweds John and Ann Pfaff arrived in George, looking for somewhere to settle and make a home.

John was a surfer and the break at Vic Bay played a big part in their decision to stay.
For two years they lived in the Vic Bay caravan park then, in 1975, they moved to Wilderness.


The Pfaffs lived and worked in Wilderness when the village consisted of a handful of buildings and a few small businesses. The old Wilderness Hotel was the focal point of village life and where Milkwood Village now stands there were simply the old Milkwood trees.

Wilderness 50s

In 1980 John bought the Bird Sanctuary; the hill where the Bushcamp is now located. He made a road to the top, then set about building a home for his family. They moved into Aloe House with their two children, David and Kim, in 1984, and it has been the family home ever since.

Aloe House in 1980s

It was John’s dream to create Milkwood Village, an area that might become the heart of Wilderness and act as a meeting place for locals and visitors alike. However, he faced one major challenge, and that was to protect the old Milkwood trees growing at the centre of his proposed development.

milkwood village 2

Not one tree was harmed and those beautiful old Milkwood trees are now the focal point of Milkwood Village. They’re also testament to John’s desire to see Wilderness going from strength to strength, while retaining its natural beauty and charm.

the shot IMG_1500

John passed away in 2010 but he will always be part of Wilderness, partly because he helped to shape the landscape of the village that you see today.
Wilderness was his favourite place on earth and he wanted everyone to recognise the same magical beauty that he discovered all those years ago.

It made him happy when people shared his love of the area; the sea, the beaches, the bush and the forest, so he drew up this ‘Must-Do’ list for visitors to the Bushcamp.
We hope that it inspires you …

  • Be loving to your partner!
  • Have a braai
  • Visit the Wild Oats market in Sedgefield on a Saturday morning (or you can now visit the George market, also on a Saturday morning)
  • Visit Knysna, take the John Benn for a cruise and lunch on board, or eat oysters at the waterfront
  • Drive to Oudsthoorn and visit the crocodile farm and ostrich farm. Eat ostrich steak and visit the Cango Caves
  • Do the walk from Swartvlei to Gericke’s Point at low tide. Have a swim and a picnic
  • Take a canoe ride at Ebb and Flow, or do the Serpentine in canoes
  • Go for a walk on Wilderness beach before sunset
  • Go surfing at Vic Bay
  • Milkwood Friday night market
  • Lunch at the Point in Mossel Bay, where you can enjoy delicious fresh fish
  • Drive from George to Prince Albert along the Swartberg Pass
  • Walk to Vic Bay (not for those scared of heights!)
  • Visit Millwood Gold mine
  • Go see the Big Tree
  • Have a steak at Montecello
  • Walk to the Waterfall and have a swim (Giant Kingfisher Trail)
  • Go abseiling or tandem hang-gliding
  • Visit Botlierskop for a game drive
  • Go horse riding or mountain back riding on one of Eden Adventures tours

We hope you have a very happy stay in Wilderness, wherever you choose to rest your head…