Before going on the Barberton Township Tour I was full of pre-conceived ideas about what it would be like. Thankfully within seconds of meeting my guide Stella Mabunda, at her Taribo Lifestyle Centre in the heart of the Township, my fears had been dismissed and my assumptions blown out of the water!
The Cocopan Restaurant is living proof that you should never judge a book by its cover! From the outside it could quite easily be mistaken for a convenience store or take away shop, but step through the saloon doors, go down the stairs and you are transported into a chic modern restaurant lounge but with a twist.
The Makhonjwa Mountains surrounding the town of Barberton are littered with old mines, cocopan trails and pioneer homesteads. So where better to get a ‘Gold Rush’ adventure than here.
Amongst Barberton’s bustling streets, slotted between people’s homes and hiding in plain view are relics of the past. Remnants of when Barberton was more than just another ‘Gold Rush Town’, lasting reminders that Barberton was the Gold Rush Boom Town. How do you find these portals to the past? Simple, you can collect the Heritage Tour Map from the information centre located on Crown Street and take yourself on a tour of these survivors of Barberton’s Gold Rush days. Or, better still, you can join a guided tour and allow these Boom Town survivors to be brought back to life.
Barberton is a town born out of Gold, so a gold mine tour is a must if you want to get a true sense of this gold rush ‘Boom Town’.
The historic town of Barberton (Latitude:-25.786111, Longitude: 31.053056), in Mpumalanga’s Lowveld, is just 3 ½ hours from Johannesburg via the N17 & R38 or a little over 30 minutes from Nelspruit via the R40 and R38.
It’s hard not to notice that Barberton has an obsession with its rocks. Whether it is the beautifully painted boulders that adorn the two entrances to the town, or Barberton’s ‘oldest’ new tourist attraction the Geotrail, the town of Barberton seems to be doing everything it can to promote the rocks surrounding it.
A long list of characters has left their mark on Barberton, from the infamous Cockney Liz to the nation’s four-legged hero Jock. A name that will surely be added to that list is Astrid Christianson. As unique as the Mountains that surround the Genesis Route, Astrid has stories that will make you laugh, cry, blush and gasp. Her knowledge of the area is second to none and her boundless energy is only matched by her love for Genesis Route, making her the ideal choice to uncover it!
When was the last time you really got lost in nature? Allowed the sounds of the bush to envelope you? Or drank the cool crisp water from a fresh mountain spring? If the answer is never, then you won’t be alone, but you are missing out!