The Bluff Headland marks the north-eastern extremity of the Bluff Dune system. At its highest point, these dunes rise to some 80 metres above sea level. The Headland marks the eastern seaboard gateway to Durban and occupies a highly central and visible position in the metropolitan area.
The Bluff Headland features prominently throughout Durban’s history. The first human settlement in the Durban area was by the Luthuli tribe on the Bluff. The strategic importance of the Headland has led to the development of various military installations dating back to the Crimean War as well as the Anglo Boer War and 1st and 2nd World Wars. Much of the Headland area is cordoned off as an active military base including modern and sensitive military technologies. The Headland is riddled with redundant military infrastructure including gun emplacements, bunkers and other artefacts of historic interest. Durban’s whaling industry was also based at the Bluff Headland, as was a ‘quarantine station’ for indentured Indian labourers.
Public access to the Headland area was phased out in the 1970s, with nationwide tightening of security around military installations, especially those situated in urban areas. In closing the Bluff Headland to the public the people of Durban have been denied access to, and appreciation of, some of the most important heritage in the region. One positive aspect of restricted access has been the undisturbed development of a rich biodiversity on the Headland.