DID YOU KNOW?
The Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902 may seem remote compared to the anti-apartheid struggle, but the memory of it is very much alive. Every town and cultural group in the Free State was affected by the war in some way, and you’ll find war memorials and museums across the province.
The Anglo-Boer War originated from rivalry between the expanding British Empire and the young South African Republic in the Transvaal (which was joined in combat by the Republic of the Orange Free State). In the biggest war ever waged on South African territory, some 7,792 British and 6,000 Boer soldiers were killed. In the British concentration camps, a further 26,370 Boer women and children died, along with approximately 20,000 black Africans.
The Springbok Route, which connects the Free State with the Northern Cape, winds through the scenic farmlands and nature reserves of the Xhariep District. A wealth of cultural and historical attractions en route include battle sites, San rock engravings, game farms and diamond mines.
The towns along the Springbok route are:
DIAMONDS AND WINE AT JAKOBSDAL
The town of Jakobsdal is part of the Diamond and Wine Route which extends down to the diamond mine hole at Jagersfontein.
Transport riders used to outspan (unharness) their horses here in the 19th century, and the story goes that their taste for coffee gave the town its name – and its distinctive coffee pot fountain. Other places of interest include:
JAGERSFONTEIN’S BIG ROCKS
The humble town of Jagersfontien produced two of the biggest diamonds ever discovered. The open-pit Jagersfontein diamond mine was dug by hand between 1870 and 1909 and measures 760m from one side to the other (and is nearly as deep). With a top area of 19.65 hectares, it is 2.65 hectares bigger than the Big Hole in Kimberley! Other historic sites include:
A BIT OF EVERYTHING AT BETHULIE
GARIEP DAM, THE FREE STATE’S YOUNGEST ATTRACTION
Only registered as a municipality in 1994, the town of Gariep Dam was voted the Volksblad Tourism Town of the Year for 2010. What makes it so special?
TIGERS IN THE FREE STATE
Take a trip up past Philippolis to visit the tigers at Tiger Canyons on the Van Der Kloof Lake in the Karoo. The Laurens van der Post Memorial Centre, the Emily Hobhouse Memorial and the Old Jail are other attractions worth seeing.
RESERVES AND RESORTS