|For further information
Kimberley Tourism at firstname.lastname@example.org
or by phone at +27 (0)53 832 7298 or fax +27 (0)53 832 7211.
Places In Kimberley
| BIG HOLE
The Big Hole was originally a little kopje in 1871 where a diamond was found. As people
heard about it they came to stake their claims.
Today the Big Hole is part of a Museum complex that receives many thousands of visitors each year.
There is a gift shop as well as a restaurant / pub at the museum.
The Diggers Memorial was erected in honour of diggers past and present. This fountain you will find in the
Ernest Oppenheimer Gardens. The gardens are a memorial to the late Sir Ernest Oppenheimer,
a mining magnate. He was the first mayor of
Kimberley when Beaconsfield and Kimberley were combined into a city in 1912.
| THE HONOURED DEAD MEMORIAL
This memorial commemorates those who lost their lives defending
Kimberley during the 124 day
siege of Kimberley at the start of the 1899 - 1902 Anglo Boer War. "Long Cecil", the
gun named after Rhodes and built in the De Beers
Workshops during the siege, stands on the stylobate of the monument.
| KIMBERLEY CITY HALL
The City Hall was built in 1899. It was completed just before the
start of the Anglo- Boer War.
| THE KIMBERLEY
Established in 1881, and a national monument since 1984. Some
of its more famous members were Cecil John Rhodes, Barney Barnato, Sir Ernest Oppenheimer and Harry Oppenheimer.
Renovated and upgraded to 4/5 star standards in 2005.
| DE BEERS HEAD OFFICE - Stockdale Street
Originally the headquarters of Barney Barnato's
Kimberley Central Diamond Mining Company, this is now the international headquarters
of De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd, which was established in 1888 by Cecil John Rhodes.
This building has been a national monument since 1985.
| HARRY OPPENHEIMER HOUSE
Diamonds from all over South Africa are sorted daily inside this
building. Since diamonds are best sorted by gentle natural light, the building has windows
only on the south side to prevent direct sunlight from entering. The
building is not open to the public.
| STEAM LOCOMOTIVES
Steam train enthusiasts will have a field day when they visit the
Beaconsfield Marshalling Yards. There are a few steam locomotives in
beautiful condition still to be seen.
| THE HALFWAY HOUSE INN
Situated half way between Kimberley city centre and Beaconsfield, "The
Half" was, and still is, a drive-in pub (believed to be the only one
remaining in the world). Legend has
it that the
original "driver" was Cecil Rhodes on his horse, en route between his mining interests in Kimberley and Beaconsfield. Another legend
has it that when instructed by the municipality to erect a 6ft [2m] wall
around the front of the premises, the then owners of "The Half"
dug a 6ft deep trench and erected the wall in the bottom of that. (Apparently
these both fall into the category of "urban legends"
they make good yarns to tell visitors!)
| THE STAR OF THE WEST
One of the country's oldest pubs, "The Star" still
operates near the Kimberley Mine Museum. It was built in the early 1870s from wood and iron
and granted its first liquor license in 1873. The Kimberley tram stops on
request outside the pub for those who wish to take a closer look, or to partake
of a little light refreshment. This pub was declared a national monument in 1990.
The Northern Cape's Dynamic Past
(With thanks to David Morris of the McGregor
In a long history stretching back thousands of years
different groups of people have come into interaction in the
Northern Cape. Through the colonial frontier period considerable
complexity was added to the mix. But partly because of environmental
extremes between arid and better watered areas, different lifestyles such
as hunting and gathering, herding, and farming, practiced by people of
different cultural background, have persisted alongside one another. Many
people here trace their roots back to a broadly Khoisan past. In remote
northern and western parts of the province there are a few old people
still speaking nearly extinct San and Khoekhoe languages such as N/u and
Nama. In the north eastern regions of the province SeTswana cultural
influences have predominated for perhaps almost a millennium, while groups
of Xhosa lived and traded in the Karoo frontier and along the !Garib
(Orange River) from the late eighteenth century. The history of the
Northern Cape Griqua is part of the same frontier story when
"forgotten frontiersmen" including "Bastaard" and
white Trekboer herders moved inland from the Cape and established new
territorial claims across these wide pastures. Missionaries and traders
came and were party to the interactions - and conflicts - between these
various groupings. The discovery of mineral wealth changed forever the way
people envisaged what is now the Northern Cape. The copper mines, then the
diamond diggings, attracted huge influxes of fortune seekers and migrant
Early in the twentieth century, photographer Alfred
Duggan-Cronin was inspired by the cultural mix that was Kimberley to
venture into its sub-continental hinterland recording the rural tribal life
that was linked into this area through this history. His photographs are a
unique snap-shot of a period poised between what was old and what was new.
The Duggan-Cronin Gallery at the McGregor Museum houses this collection,
and new displays are being planned.
The province’s archaeological heritage is not
surprisingly a rich tapestry that includes rock art traditions dating
back, in the case of engravings, more than 10 000 years at Wonderwerk Cave near Kuruman. The Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre just outside Kimberley
is today one of South Africa’s premier public rock engraving sites. It
boasts displays, a movie and an audio walking tour over the site. Guided
tours are offered to other rock art sites in the region.
The McGregor Museum’s "Ancestors
Gallery" shows the long sweep of human history here from handaxe
times more than a million years ago, to the emergence of modern humans in
Africa and of cultural behaviours that include art, to the coming of
farmers and state formation in the last 2000 years. It concludes with a
novel and challenging look at our frontier history - out of which a quite
different South Africa would have emerged had it not been for the finding
of diamonds and gold.
A Diverse Culture
Southern Africa's original human inhabitants are believed to be the San
(bushman). The San were hunter-gatherers whose last remnants still survive in
small numbers in the Kalahari Desert. Approximately 2000 years ago there
began a far reaching revolution in the social system - namely the acquisition
and keeping of livestock by some groups in the northern parts. These new
pastoralists, who became known as khoikhoi, thought themselves to be superior to
the San and it eventually led to conflict over the common property of the
The confluence of the Orange and Vaal rivers became an important settlement area
for the khoikhoi in their search for new pastures and it is thought that the
settlement split into three groups after a major dispute. One group, the
Koranna, remained whilst the Nama moved towards the west coast and the Einiqua
followed the Orange River westward.
The Art of the San (Bushman)
A relatively small number of San rock paintings and engravings is to be found throughout the
province. The most striking characteristics of their art are the boldness
and simplicity of design, accurate draughtmanship and limited use of colour,
according to the pigments that were available. Engravings were also hammered
into rock with stone and similar hard implements (flint does not occur naturally
in South Africa). Until recently it was
impossible to assess their age with any degree of accuracy, but engraved stone
fragments discovered in the Wonderwerk Cave near Kuruman were positively
identified as being some 10 000 years old. This history has left the
Northern Cape with a rich heritage of diverse people, cultures and traditions,
many of which still survive today.
The greatest concentration of rock paintings and engravings in the world
occur in Southern Africa. Most of this art was produced by Later Stone Age
people, ancestors of the historical San, some examples of which date back 27 000
years. This artistic tradition continued into the colonial era.
The art is sophisticated in its detail and depth of meaning. Animal
images are a major symbolic element most commonly portrayed by the eland which
occupies an important place in San mythology. Religious beliefs and dances
are also depicted.
Rock engravings are generally found on open hills or rocky outcrops where the
art occurs in caves and rock shelters. The style and content varies across
the region linked by similarities from a broad single tradition.
The San were model conservationists who knew that in the preservation of
their environment lay the guarantee for their very existence. They
co-existed with nature for centuries until, with the arrival of the colonists,
many families settled and became absorbed into the larger Northern Cape
Today, small groups of San live in the Mier area, on the fringes of
Riemvasmaak and in the Kalahari. Their skills as herbalists are much
sought after and increasingly they are interacting with visitors and in so doing
are contributing meaningfully to the tourism outreach.
A San cultural centre is planned at Rietfontein in the far northwest of the
province and it is here that the San will be encouraged to preserve their
cultural heritage at a multi purpose centre comprising a museum, and interactive
learning centre and a craft shop. In other areas their traditional lands
are being restored to communities.
Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre
±15km [10m] north west on the road to
(With thanks to David Morris of the McGregor
Wildebeest Kuil is one of some 15 000 known rock art sites in South
Africa. The art occurs in two forms: paintings and, as at Wildebeest Kuil,
engravings. Engravings are found mostly on the dry inland plateau.
Most of the art was made by Later Stone Age people, ancestors of the
historical San (also known as Bushmen). People who called themselves /Xam
San from the Karoo (who were interviewed in the 1870s) said their fathers
made engravings of animals.
The engravings at Wildebeest Kuil, and their setting in the landscape,
hint at a spirituality - reflected also in the beliefs of the /Xam and
other San groups - that can be sensed in many thousands of painting and
engraving sites across the country.
Wildebeest Kuil is approached by way of a magnificent Rock Art Centre,
a building which houses displays, auditorium, arts and craft shop, and
tearoom. A 25-minute film introduces the visitor to the site, and the
history of the !Xun and Khwe San who now own the surrounding land. An
audio tour - along a pathway some 800 m long - provides fascinating
commentary on the site and its art.
Wildebeest Kuil is a place with the traces of many histories,
stretching from the ancient past into the present.
The earliest traces of a human presence here are in the form of
handaxes several hundred thousand years old. Long periods of stone age
history are reflected.
On the hill are the engravings. Alongside are some of the artefacts
left behind by the makers of the art, Later Stone Age hunter-gatherers
ancestral to the Khoisan. The engravings are about one to two thousand
Descendants of the artists were caught up in the struggle for land as
the colonial frontier advanced inland. Many perished. Those who remained
were absorbed into colonial society.
The recent history, also woven into the visitor experience, is of a
nineteenth century road-side inn, of farmers, and of twentieth century
farm-worker life, with a variety of stone structures and ash-heaps giving
each a distinctive archaeological signature.
The eland was a favourite animal to the makers of South Africa's rock
art, and it appears in many majestic images. Its fat, its blood, its
sweat, were all believed by the /Xam to be sources of supernatural potency
called !gi. The shamans or medicine people in a hunter-gatherer group
would, in their beliefs, harness this potency for entering the spirit
world - during the healing dance - to make rain; to cure the sick; to
fight off the evil spirits of the dead; to visit distant relatives by
out-of-body travel; or to lead faraway game closer for the hunters. Many
other animal images occur at Wildebeest Kuil and their symbolism combines
to make the spiritual power of the hill even stronger.
The Northern Cape Rock Art Trust hosts rock art tours to two other
unique sites in the Kimberley area, Nooitgedacht, and Driekopseiland where
spreads of more than 3000 images occur on the glaciated bed of the Riet
OWNERS OF THE LAND - !XUN & KHWE SAN COMMUNITIES
Wildebeest Kuil is on land now owned by the !Xun and Khwe San
Communities, who purchased the property through the Land Reform programme
of the Department of Land Affairs, in 1996. The Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art
Centre belongs to the Northern Cape Rock Art Trust, which, with !Xun and
Khwe representation on it, ensures public access to the art, which is part
of South Africa's national estate. The San Communities (along with other
Khoisan people and organisations also represented on the Trust) see in the
rock art of Wildebeest Kuil a link with their precolonial past in the
subcontinent. The struggle of the last independent Khoisan of the
Kimberley area is reflected in the story around Wildebeest Kuil. So, too,
is the tumultuous recent history of the !Xun and Khwe, who were displaced
from Angola and Namibia by political upheavals from the 1960s. For the
first time in their modern history the !Xun and Khwe now hold legal title
to land - the Platfontein-Wildebeest Kuil farms - and enjoy full
citizenship and the privileges of being part of the broader South African
Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre provides an opportunity for the !Xun
and Khwe art, crafts and textiles to be displayed and sold with direct
benefits to the individual artists and craft workers. Members of the !Xun
and Khwe San communities run the shop and tearoom in the Centre.
The !Xun and Khwe languages are spoken by these San communities, who
retain other distinctive cultural features and spiritual perspectives.
Traditional dance groups have been formed, and knowledge is being recorded
on remembered hunting and gathering practices. The Centre provides
information on these aspects and can arrange tours to the artists' and
±30km [20m] north west
After the discovery of diamonds at Klipdrift on the Vaal River in 1869, this
was renamed Barkly West in 1873, having become part of the Crown colony of
Griqualand West. Renowned writer Sarah Gertrude Millin grew up in the
district. Her father opened and operated a shop in Barkly West. One
of the first towns to be affected by the diamond rush, the district's economy is
driven by stock and irrigation farming.
Activities and Attractions
||Alluvial Diamond Diggings:
Licensed prospectors still sift the sand and gravel of the Vaal River
for ever elusive diamonds.
|| Barkly Bridge:
The first to cross the Vaal
River, the bridge was built with steel girders in 1885. It is
still in use.
|| Canteen Koppie:
Alluvial diamond diggings
from 1869 onwards revealed many archeological sites along the Vaal
River. This is one of the most exceptional. A walking trail is
|| Nooitgedacht Glacial Pavings:
and striated by slow-moving ice that covered the land some 250 million
years ago contains many Khoisan petroglyphs.
|| Old Toll House:
On the Orange River's north
|| St Mary's Anglican Church:
Built in 1871, it was the first church on
the diamond fields.
±100km [60m] west on the road to Upington.
This village, on the edge of the Ghaap Plateau, was one of the earliest centres
of Christianity north of the Orange River. Originally known as
Grootfontein or Knoffelvallei, the town was renamed to honour the Reverend John
Campbell, a traveller and missionary who visited the Cape stations of the London
Missionary Society in 1813. Renowned for its spectacular dolomite rock
formations, high-quality fossils, many springs, Karee and Wild Olive trees,
Campbell has a multi-faceted history and has been home to San, Koranna and later
Griqua settlers drawn by the springs.
Activities and Attractions
|| Aloe Nature Reserve:
A kloof on the edge of
the Ghaap plateau, now the Aloe Nature Reserve, is mentioned in
accounts by early travellers including Burchell and Andrew Smith.
1831 and proclaimed a national monument in 1960, it is one of the
oldest churches north of the Orange River. Reverends Robert
Moffat and David Livingstone both preached from its pulpit.
±150km [95m] west on the road to Upington
In 1803 the London Missionary Society extended its mission north of the
Orange river among a mixed community consisting of members of a Chaguriqua
tribe, people from Piketberg, and local tribes like the Koranna and
Tswana. Their leaders were
Adam Kok ll and Andries Waterboer. In 1813 the Piketberg people were named
Griquas, and the town Griquatown by the Rev John Campbell. Griquatown is
know for its semiprecious stones, tiger's eye and jasper. The town is a
centre for the stockbreeding farmers and farming products include wool and
Activities and Attractions
||Andries Waterboer's Grave:
Two cannons, "old Niklaas" and "old Grietjie", gifts from
Queen Victoria are guarding his resting place.
|| Mary Moffat Museum:
building was a mission church. The museum was named after Mary Livingstone, eldest daughter of Robert and Mary
Moffat. A pulpit used by Moffat, Waterboer and David Livingstone, can be seen here.
100km [60m] south west on the road to
Known for its game, beef, mutton and irrigation farming, Douglas was founded
in 1848 as a mission station on the farm, Backhouse, by the Reverend Isaac
Hughes. In 1867 a group of Europeans from Griquatown signed an agreement
giving them the right to establish a town. It was named after
Lieutenant-General Sir Percy Douglas. Near the confluence of the Orange
River and its main tributary, the Vaal River, Douglas is a thriving, fast-growing town surrounded by a wealth of agricultural and
stock farming ventures fed by two of South Africa's greatest rivers. A booming holiday
centre, it is fast becoming a town besieged by hunters on their way to the
area's many hunting lodges and game farms.
Activities and Attractions
Perhaps the largest
Brahman cattle stud farm in the country, it is open to visitors by prior
|| Die Neus:
A scenic spot 14km
from town. Die Neus is on the confluence of the Orange and Vaal Rivers.
|| Douglas Wine Cellar:
Established in 1968. The cellar produces a wide variety of table and
desert wines. Visitors are welcome.
Some 3000 rock
engravings and petroglyphs spread over a large area of glacial pavement in the
Riet River bed.
fishing on the Vaal and river rafting on the Orange River.
±40km [25m] south on the road to Cape Town
Modder River lies south of Kimberley, near the confluence of the Riet and
Modder rivers in the vicinity of several monuments commemorating the Anglo-Boer War
Battle of Modder River. Today, this small town is known for its irrigation
and stock farming.
±60km [40m] north on the road to
On the banks of the Vaal River, Windsorton started out as Hebron, a mission
station. Diamonds were discovered in the river and prospectors flooded the
village. The missionaries were sent packing and the town of Windsorton
took root in the diggers camp named after PF Windsor, owner of the land on which
it developed. Diamonds are still found in the area.
±100km [60m] north on the road to
Johannesburg and then to Vryburg
An idyllic town situated in the centre of the Vaalharts Irrigation
Scheme. Covered with thousands of trees and shrubs, it is fast becoming
the most beautiful Garden town in the Northern Cape. Originally known as
±130km [20m] north on the road to
Johannesburg and then to Vryburg
Laid out in 1948 as a town serving the northern section of the Vaalharts
irrigation scheme, Hartswater's growth has been nurtured by its gurgling
irrigation canals and today is surrounded by myriad trees and vast tracts of
Activities and Attractions
|| Wine Cooperative:
tasting and buy some local wines.
|| Langeberg Cooperative:
Vegetable dehydration is undertaken here.
|| Vaalharts Irrigation Scheme:
Covering 36 950ha the scheme is one of the largest irrigation schemes in the
world, watering 1 250 farms of some 25ha each in the lush, Vaalharts Valley.