Special ‘homecoming’ birthday celebrated on top of Table Mountain

A former ‘resident’ of Table Mountain visited this popular tourist attraction recently – for the first time in almost 80 years. The visit was organised by the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company, to celebrate his birthday.

David Bester and his family visited the mountain to commemorate his 79th birthday.

Bester spent part of his formative years living on the mountain with his parents. He turned 79 on 10 January 2023. “My newly married parents lived in the Cableway House on top of the mountain after my dad was appointed cable car operator in 1943. My mother was pregnant with me at the time, and in January 1944 she gave birth to me,” explains Bester.

He was the first baby (at the age of just two weeks) to travel up to the top of the mountain in a cable car, to go and live with his parents on top of the mountain.

But by the age of 11 months, it was decided that it had become too dangerous to have a crawling toddler living on top of this 1 067-metre high mountain. This prompted his parents to give up living in the Cableway House and leave this unique residence.

“I have fond memories of my early days living on the mountain. Just imagine being a young toddler, exploring the natural beauty of the mountain. Table Mountain was my play park. Sadly, I don’t have any photographs left over from those days, but it was a moving experience to again see my childhood home.

“This was my first ever visit back to the mountain since those early days and I thank the Cableway Company for assisting me and my family in making this ‘homecoming’ journey a reality,” says Bester.

He spent most of Saturday morning showing family members around the upper mountain plateau where he used to play as a toddler.

He explained that his mom used to serve tea and sandwiches to visitors in what is now the Shop at the Top building.

The Cableway has been upgraded three times in its nine decades of operation. There first was the tiny car that Bester and his family would have used, followed by updates in 1958, 1974 and, more recently, in 1997, when the cars with revolving floors, called Rotairs, were introduced.

The Cableway has transported more than 30 million people to the summit of Table Mountain since it first started operating in 1929. The 30m milestone was reached in this past December period.

“It was an honour welcoming David and his family back to the mountain, a site that has such deep personal significance for him. Birthdays are special occasions – and a birthday such as David’s is perhaps even more so,” says Wahida Parker, managing director of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company (TMACC). “I hope that more people will come and celebrate their birthdays with us.”

She explains that all South African residents qualify for a free return cableway ticket that is valid for the month of their birthday.

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