PHAKISA – SA MOTORSPORT’S BEST KEPT SECRET
Just off the R70 north of Welkom lies the Phakisa Freeway Race Track, built in 1998, the fourth fastest track in the world. With a Formula 1 Grand Prix flat circuit and a Super Speedway Oval, Phakisa hosts a number of national and international races – including the six World Motorcycle Grand Prix events to date, the South African Motorcycle Grand Prix, the National Super Series and the Midas Historics Tour. With 14 turns, the 12m-wide Grand Prix Track is rated as one of the safest circuits, but also one of the most demanding. As Valentino Rossi says, “you have to be brave to win here.” See if you can beat Rossi’s amazing 1 min 31 sec time!
Phakisa Freeway Race Track:
• is the only motor racing track with a speedway track
outside USA and Africa’s only track to host MotoGP
• is a 4-in-1 track with a flat, a short, an up-and-down
and an oval track
The Flamingo Route runs through the Lejweleputswa District, an important agricultural and gold-producing area. This combination makes for a variety of leisure activities – exploring a local gold mine, game viewing and visiting key historical sites. And for lovers of the fast lane, the Free State’s own Phakisa Freeway Race Track is a must-see.
The route includes the following towns:
BOTHAVILLE – A SMALL TOWN WITH A BIG HEART
The small town of Bothaville is famous for the world’s second largest private agricultural show: the NAMPO Harvest Festival, held each May. Places of interest include:
• The Doornkraal Monument – honouring the Boers killed during the Battle of Doornkraal.
• Hiking, birdwatching and watersport opportunities.
• Sadat and Middelbult farms, which breed Arabian horses.
• Middelbult and Slots Rose Farm, which have hundreds of rose hybrids.
• The Tarentaalbosch Christmas Market – a large art and craft market held annually at the end of October.
WELCOME TO WELKOM
One of South Africa’s youngest cities, Welkom was established after the discovery of gold in the area in 1947. Welkom’s many interesting tourist attractions include:
• The Gold Museum – a fascinating history of gold mining and the origins of Welkom.
• Underground mine tours through a modern mine.
• The Phakisa Freeway Race Track – one of the fastest tracks in the world.
• The Harmony and Sibanye gold mines.
• The Welkom Flea Market event, held every second week of the month.
• The challenging and well-kept Oppenheimer Park Golf Course.
• Klippan Farm, featuring a variety of animals and traditional Free State farming equipment.
• Aandenk Monument, where the first borehole was drilled in search of gold.
• Thabong Township, where most migrant workers on the Welkom Mines lived.
The tiny town of Ventersburg has a colourful history. Here you can see:
• The ruins of the Basotho chief Moshoeshoe’s Kraal.
• The country’s only fully-restored Police Museum.
• The remains of the Voortrekker hospital.
• The Skanskraal Monument.
• The graves of children who died in the measles epidemic of the 1830s.
• The well-preserved ruins of a prehistoric settlement.
• The Sand River Monument.
If you’re looking for a fun family outing, visit the popular Aldam Resort or the Willem Pretorius Game Reserve overlooking the Allemanskraal Dam.
VIRGINIA’S HEART OF GOLD
A beautiful town with a strong gold mining heritage, Virginia is the home of the famous Virginia Jewellery School (tel: 057 904 4364). Visitors can also enjoy boating, fishing and water-skiing on the Sand River, or hiking and birdwatching along the river banks. The nearby Tikwe Lodge Nature Drive offers 40 species of buck, zebras and giraffes, as well as cruises along the Sand River.
WINBURG – A WINDOW ON THE VOORTREKKERS
The oldest proclaimed town in South Africa, Winburg is home to the Free State’s Voortrekker Monument and also the Voortrekker Museum. The Voortrekkers (“pioneers” in Dutch/Afrikaans) moved by ox wagon from the Cape Colony into the interior in the 1830s-40s. The nearby Erfenis Dam Nature Reserve offers great fishing and game viewing.
BRANDFORT…WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT?
The small town of Brandfort was where Nelson Mandela’s former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, spent nine years under house arrest for terrorism from 1977-1985. You can still see her former home in the township of Majwemasweu. Another interesting piece of history is the Florisbad archaeological site at Soutpan, 45km from Brandfort. See where the skull of a 260,000 year-old hominid and other fossils have been found, then visit the renovated Florisbad Resort for some R&R. You can also see graves dating back to the concentration camps of the Anglo-Boer war.
RESERVES AND RESORTS