The Post Office Tree

The Post Office Tree

Pedro D’Ataide’s ship, part of Pedro Alvares Cabral’s third fleet, became separated from the other ships along the east African coast in 1500. D’Ataide landed at the "watering place of São Brás" (present-day Mossel Bay). He left a letter in a Portuguese sailor’s shoe tied to a tree here.

The Post Office Tree - Dias Museum Complex

The fourth Portuguese Fleet to India found D’Ataide’s letter in July 1501. It contained information that was useful to them about the hostility towards the Portuguese at Calicut, present-day known as Kozhikode and warned of rough waters "to the East". 

The captain of this fleet, in turn, left an inscription on stone which was found in 1850. A replica of this postal stone can be seen inside the Maritime Museum. 

Leaving post ashore became a means of communication between ships that anchored in the bay for supplies. 

It was declared a provincial heritage site. In 1963, the local tourism organisation placed a large post box, shaped like a sailor’s boot, next to the tree where visitors can post letters and postcards. A special frank is used on all outgoing mail to commemorate the fact that South Africa’s first post office was a tree.


Barker, B.J. : Dias and Da Gama:  the Portuguese discovery of the Cape Sea route, Struik, Cape Town. (Undated)

LANTERN, January (1988): Tydskrif vir Kennis en Kultuur.  Jaargang, 37, nr.1 (Stigting vir Onderwys, Wetenskap en Tegnologie, Dept. van Nasionale Opvoeding, Pretoria)

Miller, R. (Ed) (1980): The Seafarers. The East Indiamen.  Time-Life Books, Amsterdam.

Potgieter, D.J. et al. (eds) (1970): Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa, Cape Town: NASOU, v.4, Human & Rousseau, Kaapstad (2000).

Schoonees, P.  (1991): Inskripsies op padrãos, posklippe, grafstene en bakens.  SA Kultuurhistoriese Museum, Human & Rousseau. Kaapstad.

Post Office Tree Post Office Tree 

Entrance Fees - Complex

Entrance Fees

Complex Entry

Adults: R 30
Pensioners (SA Citizens): R 20
Scholars Gr1 - 12: R 10

Preschoolers: Free

Entrance Fees - Complex & Caravel

Notice to Visitors

Caravel Closure

We regret to inform you that the Caravel is temporarily closed until further notice for your safety.

Opening Hours
  • Monday To Friday 09:00 to 16h45
  • Saturday & Public Holidays09:00 to 15:45
  • Sunday09:00 to 15:45

Contact Info

+27 (0)44 691 1067


1 Market Street

Mossel Bay, South Africa