On the border of the Northern Cape and Free State, 177km west of Bloemfontein, lies Kimberley, the money of the of the Northern Cape. When you think of Kimberley and its Diamond fields, it is manageable to reckon a wonderland of romance and riches And yet, the detail is that Kimberley and its surrounds are mainly cynical and uninspiring; it is unlikely that the city entrust again experience the glamour and importance that it had for two decades at the modern of the 19th century For this reason, many tourist by-pass Kimberley and it was this self-same basis that I marked to purposefully movement to this city In doing so, I found a well-hidden jewel beneath the dusty surface of the region, aptly waiting to be discovered by the intrepid traveller!
Kimberley ? a diamond in the wilderness!
My arrival in Kimberley did not bode well. I arrived final than planned, and found myself bedless-and-breakfastless too After several calls to hotels that were full, I found a room in a religious establishment of sorts. The welcome at the establishment was less than warm, to put it politely, however the room was unpolluted and the bed comfortable and I was too tired to go elsewhere
After a beneficial shower, I found myself in better spirits and it was with a gambol in my footslog that I once again located my infrequently run-around and headed into town. It was thus in a chirpy rack of disposition that I found, and thoroughly enjoyed, what I suppose to be Kimberleys best kept secret. The Star of the West!
Just around the cranny from the Big Hole, the Star of the West is a pub that draws its clientele from the locals It is Kimberleys oldest pub and it inactive serves beer to diamond diggers after the diamond markets on Saturdays As a female, I was a nibble concerned as to whether I was address when I noticed several worrying, framed newspaper cuttings all dealing with the expostulation of the local drinkers (men) to allowing the weaker sex (women) into the pub. Fortunately, these do seem to be fresh of a decorative feel than a not-so-subtle warning, and I felt uncommonly salutation in the sparsely decorated interior
The repast was perhaps the finest that I had tasted in several weeks I had eaten several steaks in Johannesburg, many at some of the priciest places in the city, but not one could compare to the steak and salad that I enjoyed in the Star of the West And at a quarter of the fee of my previous steak-encounters a mere R40/ 4 my honours card didnt reproach either!
You may assume that this is enough for me to rate the nook so highly, however it was the customers that made the nightfall for me My neighbours at the choke comprised a chaplain and two diamond diggers, and they were some of the boon live pastime that I retain witnessed in a pub for a enthusiasm situation I was treated to some beautifully sung Afrikaans songs, a rousing rendition of Shosholoza on the bar, no less! and I was whirled around the frolic macadamize (I use the spell lightly) in a rapid, albeit drunken, two-step
By the case I left to return to my infrequently room, I felt quite at home and it was a bulky centre that I waved goodbye, knowing that I would not example the fare or the merriment of the establishment again (Location: Near the gangling hole, on the cranny of West and North Circular Roads.)
As sad as I was to stop the Star of the West the day before, I was fairly jocular to earnings my booklet and vacate my quarters in the morning after the night before.
I was looking unblushing to some seeing some of the mining sites, and the blessing on my brochure was a tour of Bultfontein Diamond mine At nine oclock sharp, I presented myself to a cheeky Yorkshire man who had been working in Kimberley for the longest time, having fallen into the catch of receipt married
After a terse cd about diamonds and mining, I donned a uncommonly attractive, receptive orange jumpsuit, a hard-hat and several enormous boxes attached to my girdle which were to tightness my light. As promised, instead of wandering around a sanitised visitor centre, I found myself travelling 825 meters into the depths of the hole to the depths of the mine, where tourists werent of much good to the miners
Amid the sound of the turbines and engines, the dust, the mud, the heat and the enormous air, I and 10 others watched (and felt!) kimberlite being loosed with some haunt of explosive device, dragged out by trolleys, crushed and then transported to the surface for cleaning and sifting And throughout, we enjoyed the neighbourly and informative banter of our guide, our Yorkshire man, asking both mechanical and social questions, getting a scale of answers that were both politically correct as well as those that were less so.
A meditation on pure life, and a address renovate from the politically correct, were reformed burble that you so often find in countries that posses had problems like those that South Africa has had
The experience was fascinating and informative, highly recommended to all and sundry although probably not a large belief for the timid and claustrophobic! Tours last 3-and-a-half hours and are conducted Monday-Friday Call +27 (0) 53 842 1321 (R75/ 7.50)
After this, I marked to stick with the mining matter and headed for the Kimberley Mine Museum, which is the only authorized procedure to earn a good glimpse of the haunt Kimberley actually has five lofty holes, not one as many visitors think. The De Beers mine, which is situated a few steps away from the terminated De Beers boardroom, is larger than the Kimberley Hole, but the Kimberley burrow is special because it was carved out of the tunnel completely by brute manpower: reap and shovel That’s some 250 million tons of rock removed basically by navvy to originate three coco pans of diamonds!!! (The three other mines belong to De Beers and are found in the South East of the city)
The mine museum has several attractions additional than the Big Hole, so dont be put off by having to pay to attain in The mine has two viewing platforms from which you can peer down into the gaping cave underneath the platform. It is partially filled with water, offering spectacular photo opportunities for jocund snappers like me!
The emolument of the docket includes a release bucket of alluvial soil, which you can then rarefy through in quest of a genuine Kimberley Diamond! This was mammoth fun and I spent a thoroughly enjoyable 15 minutes crossing my fingers and toes before finding naught at all, much to my disappointment as all the supplementary diggers to my left and redress were discovering deride diamonds left, rectify and center! Their discoveries led me to grumpily acknowledge that the claim of the museum that your chances of recognizeable it propitious are one in five was probably a true claim
The halt of the museum comprises a big pile of historic buildings including shops, banks, photograph shops, and even a ten pin bowling alley! With many veritable artifacts and original buildings rescued from the cardinal Kimberley city center, this truly is a living museum! A expression of warning though try to escape the midday heat! (Opening hours: daily from 8am 6pm)
Viewing these mines, one voguish and one historical, was an all day affair! Before I knew it, I was back in my car, heading away from Kimberley, on to my succeeding destination.
Kimberley had made a significant notion on me Dusty, yes Glamorous and important? Perhaps not But cordial and interesting and fun, yes A advising for your South African tours? Definitely! I wouldnt own missed it for the world!
Further attractions—————————————– Visit a local township (+27 (0) 53 843 0017)- Visit the controlled sector on the banks of the Vaal River (+27 (0) 53 842 0099) – Visit the Anglo-Boer Battlefield at Magersfontein (+27 (0) 53 842 0099) – Visit archaeological and San Rock art sites (+27 (0) 53 842 0099)