A History of the Old House at Windmill Farm
This homestead, situated on the crest of Oliviershoek Pass on remnant of Windmill Farm, overlooking the majestic Northern Drakensberg, was built by Otto Zunckel in 1936.
In 1850 Rev. Karl Zunckel from the Berlin Missionary Society arrived to join Rev. C.W. Posselt and W. Guldenpfenning at the Emmaus mission station. They were the first whites to settle amongst the aMangwane tribe at the foothills of the central Drakensberg.
Now, for the first time in the 19th century the name
Zunckel was associated with the Drakensberg. No one
has done more to open up this mountain region, and for the
Drakensberg hotel industry than the Zunckel family.
Rev. Karl Zunckel’s son, Wilhelm, farmed at the foothills of
the Drakensberg for many years. Wilhelm had several
children one of which was the famous Otto Zunckel.
Otto never entered school and was tutored by his parents
and became a prominent figure in the hotel industry
–building & running the Royal Natal National Park
hotel and Cathkin Peak hotel. He was also largely responsible for building many of the roads into the berg in the early days.
Rev. Karl Zunckel, the original pioneer died in 1899. Otto, his grandson, retired from the hotel industry in 1936, and bought a farm on the summit of Oliviershoek pass where he lived with his wife Mathilda and their 3 sons (Walter, Gerald, Udo) and one daughter, Ruth.
Otto died here in 1947 and his wife three months later in a
In the early 1950's the house was sold to Dr and Mrs Dunning
– the famous heroic Doreen Dunning who ferried aircraft from
South Africa to Egypt during the World War II. Dr Dunning ran
his country practice from a sandstone building just behind
the main homestead. An enterprising family, the Dunnings'
also ran a dairy and a general dealers store. They had 2 sons,
Richard & Simon (who still visit us on regular basis!!) & a daughter.
Shortly after the Dunning Family left the farm, a family by the name of Cloete (?) ran a guest farm here for some time.
In the 1970's the property was used by Drifters, the
touring company that brought hundreds of young
overseas backpack visitors to South Africa.
Many's the night the bar rang out to song and
merriment in half a dozen different languages!!
In the 1990's and early 2000's Andrew Cloete
(no relation we think)
opened the successful restaurant quaintly named
The Caterpillar and Catfish Cookhouse.
This closed in 2012 when Andrew went on
to open Coyote Cafe, also in the area.