Getting to Grips with Main Road

a supplementary addition to any Cape Town guide book

Posted by Dominique Ducray on May 4, 2017

Dramatic Preamble:
First day scenario: “Welcome to UCT, Africa’s top university. The books you will need for this course are x, y, and z, and can be obtained from Rondebosch Main Road.”
Midterm scenario: “Guys let’s do Old Biscuit Mill this Saturday? It’s in Woodstock, just below Main Road.”
Rainy 10:30 pm in exam season scenario: “We need ice-cream right now. The Creamery is open until 11, just drive along Main Road.”

Main Road is going to dictate a large portion of your life, but it takes a while to figure out exactly what’s going on with it. One area becomes an another faster than you can blink, and they’re distinctly different one from the other. Once you have it pegged you can’t believe how long it took you. It’s literally one long road, but everything happens on it, and no-one ever explains it. Allow me.

As I see it, there are two main stages to learning how to navigate this this artery.
Part 1: figure out how it works geographically.
Part 2: figure out what’s on it. Never fear, Google, Paint, and I have got you sorted. Just peruse the content below at your leisure.

Part 1:
Okeydokes folks, brace yourselves, we’re going to do some mapwork. Before you quickly close this tab and move on to something else, just bear with me for a sec.

Trying to get a visual image of a geographic layout can be a but tricky, and we can’t all be cartographers. However, cartography is a good place to start, so here’s how it looks on Google maps:

main road cape town map

I know, it’s completely useless. Lemme colour it in for you:

main road cape town map

Still not much use. (Before I carry on, let me quickly say that I could, if I wanted to, just give you the final map and be done with it – but where’s the fun in that? In short: boring folks, skip to the end. Rest of you: stick with us and we’ll walk you through it step by step.)

The main problem with the Google Maps image, bless its soul, is that it doesn’t convey the pizza-slice problem of main road. Allow me to illustrate.

main road cape town map

main road cape town map

Now, my beautiful illustrations aside (long live Paint), the pizza image gives you a good understanding of the tricky way that main road works. See, Google Maps would have you believe that the whole area you’re looking at is Rosebank, which is wildly misleading. (Rosebank is actually the neglected middle child of Mainroad, but we’ll get there in a minute.) There are, in fact, at least four areas shown in the map. Again, let my helpful assistant Paint show you:

main road cape town map

The shneaky part is that each area lasts between 200m and 1km, so you can happily be walking along, thinking you’re in Rosebank, when suddenly BAM nope you’re in Rondebosch. (Although no-one ever thinks that they’re walking along in Rosebank, seriously, it’s always forgotten.)
Trying to show you the Google Maps of Main Road in its entirety will just get cumbersome, so if you’ll allow me *clears throat*:

main road cape town map

I almost did Fine Art guys, I’m a wasted talent. Anyhoo, is the pizza image clearer to you now? Having sorted that out *dusts off hands* we can move on to phase two.