Mention Greyville to most Durbanites (and many out-of-towners for that matter) and they immediately think horse racing. It’s understandable.
Thousand of people descend on Durban each winter for the Vodacom July, South Africa’s premier horse race and fashion event. But thrilling as the July is, with millions won and lost on the day, there’s so much more to Greyville than horse racing. The suburb nestles below the Ridge of the Berea, just outside the city centre, flanked by the Botanical Gardens in the south and the suburb of Morningside in the north.
The world-renowned gardens is the City’s oldest natural attraction and recognised for some of the finest collection of botanic species anywhere in the continent – some of the exotic trees are now huge. Sipping a cup of tea or coffee at the volunteer-run cafe to the melody of birds on a hot day will leave you feeling refreshed and energised. And if al fresco music is your thing, don’t miss the gardens’ regular outdoor concerts featuring artists as diverse as Watershed and the city’s highly regarded philharmonic orchestra. The Botanical Gardens and racecourse combined make up one of the city’s important “green lungs”.
The racetrack encircles one of the city’s many excellent golf courses, the Royal Durban. There aren’t many cities in the world that boast a championship course so close to their central business districts. On the eastern edge of the racecource you’ll find the Durban Light Infantry (DLI) Hall, used for many community events, including school and public meetings as well as wedding receptions. It offers excellent facilities, easy access, ample and secure parking, a kitchen, bars and a dedicated team of organisers and service staff.
These, combined with its central location make it a popular venue and provides financial support for the historic regiment. In the evening, take a stroll along Florida Road and 9th Avenue and you’ll soon realise that Greyville is a real magnet for foodies and social types. There are pavement cafés, bistros, bars and restaurants catering to every taste, from Asian fusion, tapas and Cuban, to Italian, steak and fine dining. Greyville is also home to KwaZulu- Natal’s leading media powerhouse, Independent Newspapers in Osborne Street, literally a stone’s throw from the racecourse’s eastern border.
The distinctive, blue-roofed building is the provincial headquarters for Irish media magnate, Tony O’Reilly’s Independent News and Media and is the region’s most influential publishing group. From its Greyville premises, the company publishes and prints seven of its own titles. Regional copies of national publications and other commercial printing contracts are undertaken – keeping the company’s three presses rolling virtually non-stop. Another Greyville fixture is Durban University of Technology’s ML Sultan Campus. It was named after Hajee Malukmahomed Lappa Sultan, who donated funds for a technical college for Indian people in 1941 and is a prime example of what can be achieved through determination and community spirit in the face of adversity. Unlike Technikon Natal, the institution with which it officially merged in 2001, ML Sultan was not a direct beneficiary of the apartheid regime, especially in the early apartheid years. Against a backdrop of racism that underpinned education policies in South Africa for over a century, ML Sultan emerged from humble beginnings to become a leading tertiary education provider for students of all races.