The area itself is along a river and is most well known for the Buffeljags Dam, which is mainly used for irrigation in this predominantly agricultural region. The dam itself was built in 1967 and renovated in 1983.
The village of Infanta is located several kilometres to the north of Cape Infanta which is believed to be named after the Portuguese mariner João Infante, who accompanied Bartholomew Dias on his journey around the Southern African coast in 1487/8 and commanded one of his caravels or sailing ships, the São Pantaleão.
Malgas is located inland along the Breede River and was once an important centre for trade along the river when the inland journey by ox-wagon took very long and it was easier to transport goods from ships in the bay via one of South Africa’s only navigable rivers.
The town was originally settled as an outspan for ox-wagons that were travelling the inland route along the coast, a journey which started in 1740 when Governor Simon van der Stel instructed settlers to set up trade with the indigenous Khoi people who lived in the area.
The word “Suurbraak” or “sour brake” refers to the thick racket ferns that grow in the area. Also located at the foot of the Langeberg mountains, Suurbraak was known as “Xairu” by the Attequa tribe who lived in the area before European settlement.
The town of Swellendam is divided into two areas, Swellendam East and West, and these include both the suburban and commercial parts of the town. The greater Swellendam tourist area is made up of six satellite towns or “dorpies”, which include the towns of Barrydale, Buffeljachts, Cape Infanta, Malagas and Suurbraak in addition to the town of Swellendam itself.