In accordance with our museum’s approved covid19 lockdown operational plan the operation times at our museum are as follows: During the week the museum is opened to the public from 09:00 to 16:45. On Saturdays and public holidays it is opened from 09:00 to 16:00 and Sundays from 09:00 to 13:00. The museum is operated under strict level 1 lockdown rules and regulations. For example, visitors without masks are denied entry to the premises. Visitors’ temperature is tested and those who have 38°C or more are not allowed to enter the premises. The caravel is closed until further notice. The aquarium touch tank at the Shell Museum is operated like other tanks, visitors are not allowed to touch the animals. Only 100 visitors per building are allowed at a time.
About The Dias Museum
This site was discovered in 1968, not far from the Post Office Tree. Records show that a piece of land had been granted more than 100 years before as burial ground for Muslims.
It is believed that one of the graves is that of an important Moslem who was buried here in the 19th Century after dying on board a ship at sea. The graves faces Mecca.
THE FIELD GARDEN
The valley and beach adjacent to the museum complex is today known as Munro’s Bay. This area is a natural garden preserving the original vegetation of the Mossel Bay area. Milkwood and Wild Olive trees are the most common tree species to be seen. This peaceful environment offers magnificent views of the bay and the site where Dias landed over 500 years ago.
The first building was built around 1830 by Alexander Munro from Scotland for £25. He operated a canteen on the premises where unruly seamen met. His son got the first permit to catch whales on the beach below. The front house is one of Mossel Bay’s national monuments. However, these buildings are not open to the public.
Dias named the fresh-water spring "Aguada de São Bras" (watering place of St Blaize).
In 1512, Gaspar Correa, described it as flowing over a rocky verge into a small dam. The spring still flows today.
This is a collection of plants that occur naturally in the Mossel Bay area and which were used by the Khoi, San, Coloured, Xhosa and European settlers for shelter, food and medicinal purposes. As well as for magic and superstitious beliefs.
The Braille trail makes it accessible to visually-impaired people so that they can read about, feel and smell the wonderful collection.
THE POST OFFICE TREE
In 1500 Pedro de Ataide, Commander of one of Cabral’s ships, on his return journey from the east, left a letter of importance in a shoe or iron pot under or near a large tree.
In 1501 this letter was found by Joao da Nova, commander of the third East India fleet en route to India. In this way the first Post Office in South Africa was founded. The large tree, a Milkwood (Sideroxylon inerme) has been declared a national monument and is generally known as the Post Office Tree.
The local post office has organised a wonderful way of communicating with the loved ones back home. The post box at the Old Post Office Tree can be used to post postcards and letters. A special frank is used on all outgoing mail to commemorate the fact that South Africa’s first post office was this tree! The reason for the boot-shaped letterbox is that it is presumed that the first letters were left at this old tree from the 1500’s in a sailor’s boot!
In the letter that da Nova received was a timely warning of problems near Calcutta and he was so grateful for this that he erected a small stone hermitage to be used for religious purposes. This was the first religious building in South Africa. The cross stands where it is thought the chapel or hermitage was built.