The Post Office Tree

The Post Office Tree

Pedro D’Ataide’s ship, part of Pedro Alvares Cabral’s third fleet, became separated from the other ships along the east African coast in 1500. D’Ataide landed at the "watering place of São Brás" (present-day Mossel Bay). He left a letter in a Portuguese sailor’s shoe tied to a tree here.

The Post Office Tree - Dias Museum Complex

The fourth Portuguese Fleet to India found D’Ataide’s letter in July 1501. It contained information that was useful to them about the hostility towards the Portuguese at Calicut, present-day known as Kozhikode and warned of rough waters "to the East". 

The captain of this fleet, in turn, left an inscription on stone which was found in 1850. A replica of this postal stone can be seen inside the Maritime Museum. 

Leaving post ashore became a means of communication between ships that anchored in the bay for supplies. 

It was declared a provincial heritage site. In 1963, the local tourism organisation placed a large post box, shaped like a sailor’s boot, next to the tree where visitors can post letters and postcards. A special frank is used on all outgoing mail to commemorate the fact that South Africa’s first post office was a tree.


Barker, B.J. : Dias and Da Gama:  the Portuguese discovery of the Cape Sea route, Struik, Cape Town. (Undated)

LANTERN, January (1988): Tydskrif vir Kennis en Kultuur.  Jaargang, 37, nr.1 (Stigting vir Onderwys, Wetenskap en Tegnologie, Dept. van Nasionale Opvoeding, Pretoria)

Miller, R. (Ed) (1980): The Seafarers. The East Indiamen.  Time-Life Books, Amsterdam.

Potgieter, D.J. et al. (eds) (1970): Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa, Cape Town: NASOU, v.4, Human & Rousseau, Kaapstad (2000).

Schoonees, P.  (1991): Inskripsies op padrãos, posklippe, grafstene en bakens.  SA Kultuurhistoriese Museum, Human & Rousseau. Kaapstad.

Post Office Tree Post Office Tree 

COVID-19 Protocols

In accordance with our museum’s approved COVID-19 Lockdown Operational Plan, the operation times at our museum will be adjusted as needed. The museum is operated under strict lockdown rules and regulations. 

  • Visitors without masks are denied entry to the premises. 
  • Visitors are required to sanitize before entry.
  • 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.
Entrance Fees - Complex

Entrance Fees

Complex Entry

Adults: R 20.00
Pensioners: R 10.00
Children under 18: R 5.00

Entrance Fees - Complex & Caravel

Entrance Fees

Complex & Caravel

Adults: R 40.00
Pensioners: R 20.00
Children under 18: R 10.00

Opening Hours
  • Monday To Friday 08:15 to 17:00
  • Saturday & Public Holidays09:00 to 16:00
  • Sunday09:00 to 16:00
  • Lockdown Level 4:Closed

Contact Info

+27 (0)44 691 1067

+27 (0)44 691 1915


1 Market Street

Mossel Bay, South Africa