Part of our holiday plan was to spend some time exploring Kimberley. We chose not to camp in Kimberley itself and that is how we ended up staying at Riverside and in retrospect we are very happy with that decision.
Before we Tackled Kimberley, we spent a day in the Mokala National Park, which is about 20 km from where we are camping. It is a fairly newly declared park situated in this amazing countryside. There are plenty thorn trees and lots of game, largely antelope. There is one campsite with only 6 sites and each site has its own kitchen and ablution facility and then there are 2 camps with chalets, all beautifully positioned and overlooking the Riet River. This is for a future holiday, when we can no longer get into the rooftop tent. For now, we camp. It is also a lot easier on the budget.
On Monday morning we headed of into Kimberley to go and do the tourist thing. Where else to start, but at the Big Hole. We went there about 20 years ago when the kids were small. I cannot remember much, other than the Big Hole itself, but now they have upgraded the whole place and it looks like a tourist attraction. Apparently De Beers put up many million Rands for the upgrade. It is like the Diamond version of Gold Reef City.
From there we went to explore some of the more exciting historical places in Kimberley, of which the first was the Star of the West. This is a pub that opened in 1875, was run by a Prostitute and has never closed its doors in all these years and has always traded as a pub. The Prostitute who owned it is long since dead and gone, but there is interesting evidence of her presence, like the trap door behind the pub counter, going down into the cellar, where she apparently kept her diamonds. There are also rooms upstairs where she practiced her trade. The original bar counter is still in use to this day. I bet it could tell many an interesting story!! The interesting story for us on the day was that when we arrived at the pub at about lunchtime, we opened the door to a deserted pub and a bar lady fast asleep at one of the tables! We were a bit unsure as to how to handle this, when an apparently regular patron arrived. He gently woke her up and I think it is going to take a while for her to live this one down. Well worth the visit, as the food was good, the wine was good and cheap and the atmosphere was wonderful.
My number one on the list was to visit the Kimberley Club and that is where we went after lunch. Oh Boy! What a touch of the old world, Clubby, Colonial and lovely (CJ Rhodes walking down the stairs!). The club secretary spent some time with us and shared a lot of the history of the Club and Kimberley and we were permitted tohave some wine in the “Members only” bar. Great experience and well worth the time spent there.
On Tuesday morning we were off to the Boer war battle site of Magersfontein and then back into town to visit the Mac Gregor Museum. For the history fundies, both of these visits are a must. There is a great deal of Boer War history in the area and many sites to visit and good info from many sources. We found the Magersfontein site really moving and informative. After all the history it was again off to my kind of history, this time to the Halfway House, another pub from the Diamond rush era. The origins of the pub are steeped in the history of Kimberley and one of South Africa’s best known characters, CJ Rhodes. The story goes that he needed a place (pub) where he could have a drink that was half way between his residence and work, he also is reputed not to have dismounted from his horse! Alas, not nearly as romantic as the one of the day before. Cannot have it all, I suppose.
And so our stay on Kimberley came to an end.
Slow connection unable to upload photos!