Route: Pretoria -
Rustenburg - Zeerust - Lictenberg - Barberspan - Schweizer-Reneke -
Christiana - Bloemfontein (Baden Baden) - Welkom - Kroonstad -
Sasolberg - Vereeniging
Rustenberg was established in 1851 and the
name means "place of rest".
It was the second Dutch Reformed Church parish in the Transvaal. It
grew as the church and administrative centre for the farming area
which produced citrus, tropical and sub-tropical fruits, cattle,
tobacco, groundnuts, maize and wheat.
In 1852 Rustenberg was the scene of a meeting at which two rival
Voortrekker leaders, Andries Henrick Potgieter and Andries
Pretorius settled their differences.
We probably only passed through this town. But a farm northwest of
Rustenberg, Boekenhoutfontein, was a home of President Paul Kruger.
A cottage on the farm is Transvaal's oldest pioneer house, dating
back to 1841.
is a cattle ranching town which apparently looked like something
out of the American Wild West back in its heyday. It was
established in 1864 when Casper Coetzee had a church and fort built
on his farm. Coetzee died before the completion of the buildings
and the town which grew around them was called Coetzee's Rest, or
Zeerust, in his memory.
I am not sure whether we went to Mafeking which is not far from
Zeerust. Mafeking is remembered for the siege that took place in
the Anglo-Boer War in 1899-1900 when the Boers held the town.
Colonel RSS Baden-Powell was the British commander and it was
during the siege that he came up with the idea of the Boy Scouts,
when he noted that the small boys of Mafeking were almost as tough
as their fathers. To keep them out of mischief Baden-Powell gave
them non-combatant tasks to do and thus his idea of the Boy Scouts
It is also the place where tribal warfare took place amongst the
Both sides recruited European mercenaries and some wild
individuals, known as free-booters, joined the tribesmen.
Rewards from the tribal chiefs consisted of farms and the result
was the creation of a miniature republic named Goshen, with
Rooigrond as its capital.
31kms away from Mafeking is a sinkhole known as the Wondergat,
meaning "wonder hole". Legend has it that it was used as an
execution place by Mzilikazi.
Lichtenburg meaning "town of light" was named by President Thomas
Burgers in 1873.
Thirty three years later diamonds were found and the town became
the scene of the diamond rush.
In 1926Jacobus Voorendyk found a single diamond while digging fence
holes. Within a year over 108,000 fortune hunters appeared on the
The diggers created so much dust that cars had to keep their
headlights on during the day. Not everyone made a fortune
In days gone past, a river had meandered through the plains and at
some point had picked up the diamonds. The river eventually
disappeared leaving the diamonds in gravel pits along its
In some parts diamonds were as numerous as the riverbed stones, but
in others, there was none.
The diamond fields are better known by the nearby town
The "Big Hole" as is it known, is as deep as two heights of the JG
Stijdom Tower, and most of the fields are owned by De Beers
Consolidated Mines which was set up by Cecil Rhodes.
In 1888 Rhodes bought out his partner Barney Barnato and gave him a
cheque for £5,338,650.
Barberspan there is a lake and a nature reserve. We may have camped
here. But in all probability we just passed through the area.
Schweizer-Reneke was named are two soliders, Captain CA Schweizer
and Field-cornet GN Reneke, who died in a government skirmish in
1885 on a rustler"s hideout in the hills called Massouskop near the
The walls of the rustler"s camp can still be seen on the summit of
Christiana was named after the daughter of President Marthinus
Pretorius. Again diamonds were discovered in the area in
There are prehistoric rock engravings in the nearby Stowlands area
and 6kms out of town there are some mineral springs.
Bloemfontein is the judicial capital of South Africa and the
provincial capital of the Orange Free State.
Its name means "flower fountain" from a fountain-like spring which
surfaces and where Voortrekkers camped with their wagons.
The tribespeople called it Mangaung which means "place of
The first European to settle in the area was Johannes Brits in
1840, and in 1846 he sold his farm to the British appointed Major
HD Warden who built a small fort.
In 1848 the pioneers became uneasy about submitting to British rule
and sent a commando force to the fort. Warden was forced to leave
and went back to the Cape with his small group.
Three months later he returned with an army and defeated the
Voortrekkers who were being led by Andries Pretorius. He
re-established the fort and the British continued to control the
Orange River Sovereignty until 1854 when the British became
dissatisfied with the territory and handed it back to the
Voortrekkers set up a volksraad (peoples council) and raadzaal
The new state became under constant attack by the Sotho, and the
state's president Josias Hoffman was accused of high treason for
giving Moshoeshoe, the paramount chief of the Sotho, a gift of a
barrel of gunpowder as a token of peace and friendship.
days, the plains around Bloemfontein was teeming with wildlife. The
sound of lions roaring at night was commonly heard and hyenas and
jackals scavenged the streets.
The city has several reminders of the Anglo-Boer War. The British
White Regiment had their camp on the hill which overlooks the city
and built a replica of the famous White Horse which is in
And the National
Women's Memorial was built in memory of the 26,370 South
African women and children who died in the British concentration
camps during the Anglo-Boer War.
original Coat of Arms was designed in 1854.
The governor of the Cape, Sir George Grey commissioned a design
dominated by a wild olive tree (symbolising liberty) with 3 sheep
resting in its shade (symbolising patience), a lion (symbolising
courage), and an oxwagon (symbolising the Great Trek).
It was hung in the council chamber until the Anglo-Boer War when it
was taken to Britain by Lord Roberts as a souvenier.
It was changed in 1910 when the four colonies (the Cape, Natal, the
Transvaal, and the Orange Freestate) joined to form the Union of
South Africa and each of the provinces are represented in the
corners of the shield.
There are some lakes and mineral springs at Baden Baden where we
went on a caravan rally.
Welkom was created in 1947 and lies in an area of gold mining
Kroonstad was a place we just passed through. It was named after a
horse called Kroon which means "Crown" which drowned in a pothole
in a stream afterwards known as Kroonspruit.
Kroonstad itself stands on the banks of the Vals River which means
"deceitful or false".
Sasolberg is a town which sprung up around the petro-chemical
industry. Sasol is the abbreviation of South African Coal, Oil and
Gas Corporation and stands on a vast coal field.
31 May 1928 - 27 Apr 1994
Route: Vereeniging - Potchefstroom - Klerksdorp - Wolmeranstad -
Schweizer-Reneke - Vryburg
Potchefstroom was the former capital of South Africa. It was
founded by the Voortrekker leader Andries Hendrick Potgieter after
his victory in the Nine Days Battle with the Matabele.
In 1837 the Matabele shocked the Voortrekkers with a mounted
cavalry charge using specially trained oxen.
The oxen had been trained to use their horns to rip into the flanks
of the Voortrekkers horses.
5 days beforehand Andries Hendrik Potgieter had mustered a force of
330 men and set out to defeat the troublesome Mzilikazi. There were
a few bitter battles in which the Matabele suffered heavy losses
and their villages were left in flames.
On the 6th day Mzilikazi charged with his cavalry of oxen. The
battle was wild but the clamour and the smell of blood was too much
for the oxen and they stampeded, goring and trampling their masters
in the process.
The Voortrekkers chased the Matabele army northwards and Mzilikazi
fled across the Limpopo River where he re-established his
Thereafter that part of the country was known as Matabeleland; and
later, when Cecil Rhodes came, Rhodesia.
In 1867 the German geologist Karl Gottlieb Mauch came to
Potchefstroom from a trip into the wilds and claimed he had
discovered the legendary golden Ophir of Solomon and Sheba, a vast
ancient gold field scarred with abandoned mine
hunters poured in from all over the world but gold was never found
in the area.
Mauch won prizes for his gold and mineral specimens at the
agricultural show but he never discovered any payable deposits from
He returned to Germany in 1872 penniless where he died in 1875.
A few years later the gold was found - at Witwatersrand.
The first shot of the Anglo-Transvaal War was fired at
Potchefstroom in 1881 when 500 Republicans rode into the town and
occupied the printing works.
The British soldiers tried to throw them out but a gun battle
ensued and the British had to retreat to the Old Fort which was
besieged for 3 months.
Potchefstroom is near the Mooi River which has a leisure resort
with boating, fishing, and a campsite.
Klerksdorp was a quiet rural town until the discovery of gold in
The diggers and traders came in their thousands.
However the gold needed complex recovery techniques and so most
diggers abandoned the field.
with modern technology Klerksdorp is a major producer of gold and
uranium; and is also an important farming centre with the second
largest grain co-operative in the world.
There are pre-historic rock engravings at Bosworth 18kms north of
Wolmaranstad is named after JMA Wolmarans who was a member of the
volksraad. The stream that flows through the town is known as the
Makwasi which means "wild spearmint".
Vryburg is in the Cape Province and the name means "town of
It was the capital of a roughneck republic called
Stellaland was a block of ranches that mercenaries had received as
payment for their help in the tribal wars between the Tlapin and
the Korana in 1882.
The mercenary farmers designed their own flag and printed their own
postage stamps (which are collectors pieces).
However, the Transvaal Republic and the British government in the
Cape refused to tolerate frontier disturbances and a force was sent
to remove the "filibusters" from Bechuanaland (Botswana) and
occupied the land in 1885.
The flag was sent to Queen Victoria in England and hung in Windsor
Castle until 1934.
1882 - 1883
In its heyday Vryburg was a roaming ground for cattle rustlers and
horse thieves and the jail built at the town saw many of the tough
One of them was Scotty Smith, who was a smuggler, horse, thief and
Scotty was known as the Robin Hood of South Africa. He came to the
country in 1877 and joined the Frontier Armed and Mounted Police
and served in the Ninth Frontier War and the Griqua
peace came Scotty got bored and deserted. He became a gun runner,
illicit diamond buyer and horse rustler. Leitland's Pan was his
main stronghold. He was respected by the Bushmen, who acted as his
trackers and informed him of the movements of the police. Whenever
he was caught he always managed to escape.
Scotty fought the Germans when they were trying to subdue the
tribes of South West Africa; the Boers in the Anglo-Boer War; and
during the First World War he ran an intelligence service against
the Germans of South West Africa. Scotty died in 1919 during an
Important Boer Men (Anglo Boer
Sable Artist Joan