1) Barberton’s Heritage Walk:
Barberton’s guided Heritage Walk is a celebration of the town’s ‘Boom Town’ days when gold was first discovered in 1884. A time when the area was so awash with gold people were drawn from near and far to try their luck. A time when Barberton was the buzzing metropolis that Johannesburg is today.
Along the Heritage Walk you will visit some of the first Gold Rush homes. Shipped from England and left exactly as they would have been then. Providing a portal back in time to see what life would have looked like during Barberton’s golden era. You also visit South Africa’s second ever Stock Exchange the first was also here, but burnt down, the town’s first hotel that is still in business today and Barberton’s first double-storey building. There are also monuments to heroes of the past including a statue of Jock of the Bushveld, Percy Fitzpatrick’s legendary dog, who once roamed these streets.
2) Gold Panning:
Strike Gold! Just like the early Pioneers with an afternoon panning in one of Barberton’s ‘golden’ rivers. Experts show you how to find a fortune, though you are going to have to let it go again, as gold panning is now a ‘catch-and-release’ sport!
Still the stories about life in the Gold Rush days and the tales of hidden fortunes that are buried somewhere along the river beds you pan will inject you with the Gold Rush Fever and panning will certainly give you a taste of what life was like back then.
3) Eureka City:
If Barberton was the Johannesburg of its day, then Eureka City would have been its Sun City. Donkey races, tennis courts, hotels and breath taking views made this town on top of the mountains something really special. Where miners would forget about the woes of life underground and make the most of every minute on the surface.
The moment the Gold Rush ended in Barberton so did Eureka City, but thanks to the Barberton Historical Society the remains have been beautifully preserved so visitors can get a sense of what life above the mines would have been like. Exploring this Gold Rush ghost town on a guided 4x4 trail or quad bike route, give you a real sense of adventure as you follow the same paths up the steep mountainside that the miners would have used. Along the route you are treated to some of the most incredible and breath-taking views that are as much a highlight of the tour as Eureka City itself.
4) Sheba Mine and Bray’s Golden Quarry:
What can man achieve with a pick and shovel when the rocks are cemented together with gold? The answer Bray’s Golden Quarry and you will be amazed at the vastness of this underground quarry and how they moved all that rock by hand, it is simply mind boggling.
Bray’s Golden Quarry is part of Sheba Mine, considered the richest and oldest working mine in the world. It is one of the mining ‘Wonders of the World’, so if you are only going to visit one mine in your lifetime, this is the one to choose. The fact that it is still a working mine adds to the experience as you can sometimes hear the drilling going on below you.
5) The Geotrail:
If you want to understand what made this area a gold digger’s paradise, then a guided tour along the Geotrail is what you need. The trail covers many of the old ‘Gold Rush’ mines, some of which are still in use today, and the knowledgeable Geotrail guides will explain not only their origins and the amazing geology but also about some of the legendary tales and colourful characters associated with them.
The Geotrail can also be done as a self-drive using the beautifully designed information boards, at the eleven layby stops, which explain the unique geology of the area. But to get the most out of the Geotrail take the guided tour and enjoy being transported back in time and uncovering the route of this region’s riches. The Geotrail starts at the R38 R40 intersection in Barberton and follows the R40 all the way to the Swaziland Border.
Contact details for the Big 5 Barberton Adventures:
Heritage Walk or for Geotrail booklets contact Barberton Centre of Tourism
firstname.lastname@example.org | +27 (0)13 712 2880 | +27 (0)82 959 6670
For Gold Panning, Eureka City and the Sheba Mine Tour contact Andrea Botha at Barberton Odyssey
email@example.com | +27 (0)79 180 1488
For guided tours of the Geotrail contact either David Mourant or Tony Ferrar
firstname.lastname@example.org | +27 (0) 82 923 5366 | email@example.com | +27 (0)72 376 2581