Some of the defining moments of South African history have happened in Mpumalanga.
Events like the beginnings of oxygen producing plants, ancient tribes roaming the lands, the legends of King Solomon’s mines and Queen Sheba. Tracks mark the land caused by the Voortrekkers who forged their way up the country, the Boer War that followed the trek, and the gold rush that consumed the area. Clashes of culture and ideology during apartheid, its eradication. All of these iconic events took place in Mpumalanga. Needless to say, Mpumalanga is steeped in history.
1) Pilgrims Rest
Pilgrims Rest is a little town that is lost in the 1800’s. The town is small, and easy to explore on foot. Stroll from shop to shop, from restaurant to pub and experience the lifestyle, and architecture of South Africa in the 1800’s. For further insight into South Africa’s Gold Rush, visit the imaginative Alangade House Period Museum.
2) Barberton Heritage Walk
The Barberton heritage walk starts at the museum and meanders through the town past its famous landmarks to giving ramblers better insight into the town and its rich and fascinating history. After gold was found in the area, the town became a vibrant and wild prospector town filled with interesting characters. Characters such as the famous barmaid/prostitute Cockney Liz who walked from the bar past, what was at the time, South Africa’s first gold stock exchange.
3) Makonjwa Mountains
The Makhonjwa Mountains, which are over 3.5 billion years old, have a unique scientific record of pre-historic earth. The Mountains are referred to as the “Genesis of Life”.
“the rocks of the Barberton Region represent the best-preserved example of the earth’s ancient oceanic and continental crust", Professors Terence and Bruce Rubidge of the University of Witwatersrand.
4) White River History and Motor Museum
A palace for Petrol Heads, visit the Motor Museum and embrace history of the automobile in real life. There are over 60 vehicles in the museum, from the Willy’s overland to the world changing Model T Ford and rare British sports cars.
5) Le Goya Village
Visit the ruins of the Le Goya Village just outside Ermelo, and see the how its early inhabitants lived back in the 1400’s.
6) Sheba Mine
The lust for gold has helped create the legends of King Solomon’s mines and the Queen of Sheba, after which the world oldest operational gold mine is named. Sheba Mine has been running for over a century and will continue to run for centuries more.
7) Jocks Memorial
18kms outside Sabie is the memorial to the world’s most famous Staffordshire bull terrier, Jock of the Bushveld. His memorial is a simple medallion inset into a stone plinth. For a more elaborate dedication to this loyal and brave dog visit the bronze statue of him facing down a Kudu at the Jock Safari Lodge, near Pretoriuskop, in the Kruger Park.
8) Eureka City
Take the Eureka City Guided Quad Bike Trail, through the Barberton Mountain Lands Reserve to the ruined city of Eureka. The abandoned city with its Horse Racetrack and the very old Victorian Hotel raises many intriguing questions. Why did they leave, where did they go? Learn all about the history of these early pioneers.
9) Chrissiesmeer and the Tlou-tle
It is said that the San and the Tlou-tle people lived on the larger lakes about 1 500 year ago, in villages built on rafts, moving their villages away from danger and towards fish stocks.
10) Barberton Museum
Visit the Barberton Museum and learn about Barberton’s, geology, mining and Swazi history. The general history of this wild prospector town is also on display. Other historical monuments that you can visit are the Belhaven and Stopforth House, the Fernlea Museum and the Block House.