Plastic to planks. Derelict toilets to coffee shops.
That’s the story-behind-the-story in the Hawaan forest at uMhlanga where a derelict ablution facility is about to become a coffee shop at the 250m mark along a boardwalk made of planks and poles of recycled plastic.
The walk gets longer as funding comes in, the idea being that it will eventually run 1km through the dune forest, offering glimpses to the beach and ocean and traverse a wetland. It will also be wheelchair-friendly.
The coffee shop, scheduled to open for take-aways at the beginning of next month, will be operated by Bike & Bean, which already has two beachfront outlets on the Durban promenade, at the Point Waterfront and at Country Club Beach.
The latter, like the new Forest Café, is in a building that once served as a toilet.
“I’ve got a history! I’ve just got something about toilets,” joked Bike & Bean owner Viki Ferreira.
Her outlet at Country Club Beach had once been a men’s toilet before she took it over in 2013, the ablution facilities having been removed some time beforehand.
“I fell in love with that building, even though it had once been a toilet.”
The graffiti artist known as Giffy decorated it and he has done the same to the new Forest Café.
The uMhlanga Urban Improvement Precinct (UIP)’s new boardwalk extends from the uMhlanga promenade into the uMhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve, which is managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife with which the UIP collaborates closely.
“The long-term plan is to build an environmental education centre to host nature-based activities including guided walks, canoeing, a bird hide and children’s activities,” said UIP spokeswoman Melanie Rosettenstein.
“We also hope to have another kiosk on the route.”
Rosettenstein stressed, however, that these developments depended on future funding.
“The UIP is calling on local businesses and the public to get behind this worthwhile initiative which not only protects and enhances the natural environment but also supports job creation and tourism,” she said.
The Independent on Saturday