Graeme Bird, co-owner, Poison City Brewing craft beer brand, lives, works and surfs out of KwaZulu-Natal’s little North Coast seaside gem, Umdloti. When Graeme, his wife Kerstin and their two young sons saw photographs of the house they now call home they were “blown away”, even though it was further from the city than they would’ve liked.
The property sits on the edge of an indigenous forest with expansive sea views and the house was designed with high ceilings, glass walls and sizeable volumes that allow the living space to seemingly merge with the sea and forest. Less than 200m from the seashore, the house is situated a short way up a coastal dune, which protects it from the elements and creates an unbelievable sense of openness.
“The real clincher was the main bedroom, a 150m¬ open-plan space on the third floor, fully open to the sea in front and forest behind. It’s also high enough on a clear day to see the Bluff and the Durban Beachfront in the far distance, which creates a great perspective of this stretch of coastline,” says Graeme.
Umdloti has three distinct sectors, with North Beach Road being the tourist strip and Bellamont and South Beach roads being predominantly residential. Graeme’s home is one road behind South Beach Road, so it’s well separated from the main public beach and commercial centre. “This enhances the separation from the bustling urban spaces of La Lucia Ridge, Umhlanga Village and Umhlanga Newtown Centre a few minutes’ drive away. While many of the surrounding old beach cottages and holiday houses have been renovated to accommodate permanent residents, there’s still a strong sense of living in a remote coastal village,” he says.
The sense of community here has resulted in the establishment of an Urban Improvement Precinct which drives environmental and security matters in the South Umdloti area. As a result, the community is actively committed to preserving the surrounding green space. Graeme praises the support received from the eThekweni Municipality to help maintain this sustainable coastal environment.
As a surfer, Graeme says nothing beats waking up to the sight and sound of the waves. Sundays involve a surf and then a beach walk with the family to one of the local restaurants. “These local Umdloti places were among the first to stock our Poison City craft beers and it was fantastic how much support I got. They were all proud to stock a local product and especially one from someone who lives in the area.
“Living here is as close to nature as you can get and we’re often completely happy to spend our free time at home. We see shoals of fish, dolphins and whales almost daily from our house. The forest is full of life and the sound of birds and even the odd buck. This is enough to make us feel we’re far from the city,” says Graeme.
In a village like Umdloti, you really get to know the people around you and this creates a real sense of community
Eating out in Umdloti:
- Bel Punto: for great seafood
- Mundo Vida: for delicious bistro fare and breathtaking sea views
- Sandbar: for tasty tapas and drinks in a vibey cafe
- Tasca Pizza: for amazing pizza
- La Casa Nostra: for scrumptious Italian meals out with the family
- Caffe Java: for wonderful breakfasts
- Bush Tavern: for classic pub grub and ambience
Things to do in Umdloti:
- Go surfing at Umdloti Beach.
- Swim in the local tidal pools.
- Watch whales and dolphins swim.
- Enjoy an afternoon of fishing.
- Visit Sibaya Casino and Entertainment Kingdom.
Nature near Umdloti:
- The beaches in Umdloti and neighbouring areas
- Hawaan Forest
- Umhlanga Ponds
- Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve
- Mount Moreland
This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.