Tip For Trip - Gauteng
Gauteng, the ‘Place of Gold’, is the economic powerhouse of South Africa. It is characterised by a cosmopolitan, multicultural mix of people from all walks of life. The province’s unique cultural and social legacy is evident from the many excellent museums, theatres, cultural precincts and craft markets. The Vaal Dam, which supplies water to most of Gauteng’s residents, covers some 300 km2 and is a popular venue for watersport. Numerous resorts line the shore. The dam also attracts a great diversity of birds. Vanderbijlpark was built during the late 1940s by the then Iron and Steel Corporation to accommodate its employees. The Sterkfontein caves near Krugersdorp are the site of the discovery of the skull of the famous Mrs Ples, an estimated 2,5 million-year-old hominid fossil, and Little Foot, an almost complete hominid skeleton some 3,3 million years old. The broader Cradle of Humankind site consists of 47 000 ha, with numerous caves, the most famous of which are the Sterkfontein caves. In 1999, Sterkfontein and its environs were declared a world heritage site. Forty percent of all the world’s human ancestor fossils have been found here, including several of the world’s most famous and important fossils. A further 500 hominid fossils and more than 9 000 stone tools have been excavated in the area, and work is ongoing. The Krugersdorp Game Reserve provides sanctuary for several game species, including four of the Big Five. The African Fauna and Bird Park houses various species of wildlife and birds. The South African National Railway and Steam Museum at Randfontein Estates Gold Mine outside Krugersdorp houses some of the country’s old steam locomotives, a diesel-electric locomotive, and more than 50 vintage passenger coaches. Train rides are offered once a month. A team of Lippizaner stallions performs every Sunday at the South African National Horsemanship Centre in Kyalami, near Johannesburg. Visitors to Roodepoort can go on walks and trails through the Kloofendal Nature Reserve, or enjoy a picnic or a show at the popular Kloofendal Amphitheatre. The Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden boasts a 70 m- igh waterfall. Forty kilometres north of Pretoria lies a ring of hills a kilometre in diameter and 100 m high. These are the walls of an impact crater left by an asteroid that hit the area some 200 000 years ago. The Tswaing Meteorite Crater is similar in size to the well-known Barringer Meteor Crater in Arizona, in the USA. The crater walls at Tswaing were originally about twice as high as they are today. There is a museum adjacent to the crater. A path leads from the museum to the crater, along the rim, and down to the central lake. The crater is covered with indigenous trees and bushes which attract a variety of bird life. The old mining town of Cullinan developed around the Premier Diamond Mine and many turnof- the-century houses still stand. The mine has produced some of the world’s most famous diamonds, including the Cullinan diamond, the world’s largest at 3 106 carats.
The Adler Museum of the History of Medicine depicts the history of medicine, dentistry and pharmacy in South Africa. The Pharmacy Museum in Melrose houses a large variety of medicines, including more than 670 traditional medicines that have been collected throughout southern Africa. There is also a display of old prescription books and dictionaries used by pharmacists. The Nelson Mandela Bridge is a landmark gateway into Newtown, the arts precinct of Johannesburg. It is the largest cable-stayed bridge in southern Africa. Museum Africa in Newtown tells the story of life in South Africa from the Stone Age to the Nuclear Age and beyond. The Market Theatre Complex comprises three theatres, an art gallery, restaurants and pubs. A bronze statue of the champion of passive resistance, Mahatma Gandhi, can be seen in the city centre. Lesedi Cultural Village in the Swartkops Hills north of Johannesburg gives visitors the opportunity to meet families of different cultural groupings. It features four traditional homesteads where visitors can spend the night with a family of their choice. The Phumangena Zulu Kraal is home to traditional Zulu people living and working there. The Melville Koppies in Johannesburg was once the site of a Stone Age African village and iron- melting works. Flora includes 80% of the species recorded on the Witwatersrand. It is open to the public from September to April. Gold Reef City is a theme park based on Johannesburg during the gold-rush era. The Apartheid Museum tells the story of the legacy of apartheid through exhibitions consisting of film footage, photographs, text panels and artefacts. Constitution Hill features the impressive building housing South Africa’s Constitutional Court, and offers visitors the chance to view the fort, the socalled native gaol, the women’s gaol and the awaiting-trial block. People once imprisoned at these facilities include Gandhi and Albert Luthuli, as well as the only woman to be executed in South Africa’s history, Daisy de Melker. At Santarama Miniland and Entertainment World, visitors can explore models of South Africa’s most popular beacons, such as Robben Island, OR Tambo International Airport (previously Johannesburg International Airport), East London Harbour, and the Union Buildings in Pretoria. A large, well- stablished park surrounds Zoo Lake, which is frequented by breeding bird colonies. Other attractions include jazz concerts, rowing boats for hire, a tea garden and a restaurant. The South African Museum of Military History houses an impressive collection of weaponry and uniforms from the two world wars. The South African Transport Museum in Heidelberg
represents all aspects of South Africa’s transport services. Soweto
is a popular tourist destination. It is estimated that some 1 000 foreign tourists visit Soweto every day. Its tourism industry contributes about R143 million to Gauteng’s GDP. The two-bedroom house where former President Mandela lived before his incarceration has been declared a national monument and converted into a museum. The Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown (Soweto) is the place where the Freedom Charter was signed in 1955. No tour of Soweto would be complete without a visit to the Hector Petersen Museum, which commemorates the people who died following the Student Uprising of 16 June 1976. The museum was named after the young boy who was the first person to be shot dead by police on that day. Guest- ouses and bed-and-breakfast establishments are a fast-growing phenomenon in Soweto. A tourism and information centre was opened in Soweto in February 2006. The centre provides comprehensive information to tourists. Visitors can book accommodation in Soweto, and plan and book tours and site guides. The centre, developed by the Johannesburg Tourism Company in partnership with the private sector, has a visitors' area, a fully equipped conference and meeting room, a curio shop, a call centre, an Internet café and a cafeteria. It will also have a training facility for aspirant young entrepreneurs wanting to establish small businesses in the hospitality industry and other related sectors.
A variety of historical buildings are found in the city, which is known as the ‘Jacaranda City’ because of the many jacaranda trees that line its streets. When these are in full bloom in October, they cover the city in a lilac haze, providing spectacular views from the surrounding hills. Church Square is centred around a statue of Paul Kruger, president of the former Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek, and includes buildings such as the Old Raadsaal and the Palace of Justice. Ten minutes’ drive away from Church Square is Freedom Park, which is being built to commemorate the country’s political history. Once completed in 2007, the 35-ha site will comprise a garden of remembrance, a museum, and statues and sculptures to honour South Africans who have contributed to the country’s freedom and development. The Kruger House Museum contains the personal belongings of President Kruger. Melrose House is a beautiful example of Victorian architecture. The Peace Treaty of Vereeniging, which ended the Anglo-Boer/South African War, was signed here in 1902. Demonstrations at the Pioneer Open-Air Museum include milking cows, making butter and candles, baking bread and grinding coffee beans. Other museums include the Police Museum, the Coert Steynberg Museum and the Transvaal Museum of Natural History. The Voortrekker Monument also houses a museum and commemorates the Great Trek. Some 260 steps lead to the dome, where spectacular views of the city can be enjoyed. The monument receives about 200 000 visitors a year. Fort Schanskop has been refurbished and boasts a 375-seat amphitheatre. The Union Buildings were designed by Sir Herbert Baker and completed in 1913. They were the setting for the presidential inauguration of Nelson Mandela in 1994, and those of Thabo Mbeki on 16 June 1999 and 27 April 2004. The Sammy Marks Museum just outside Pretoria dates from 1885. Rooms in the house are filled with Victorian paintings, furniture, silver and porcelain. Visitors can relax at the tea garden and restaurant on the premises. The General Smuts House Museum in Irene, south-east of Pretoria, contains the original furnishings of the Smuts family. A popular arts and craft market is held here on certain Saturdays. The Rietvlei Nature Reserve is notable for its grass types, herbs, a large number of game and many bird species. The Mapoch Ndebele Village, north of Pretoria, is being restored by its residents and the National Cultural History Museum. To develop the project into a viable, living tourist village, the 50 families staying there have undergone tourist-guide and business training. It is the first living cultural village in South Africa owned and managed by its residents. Mamelodi is situated approximately 20 km from the city centre and features the Solomon Mahlangu Square, which is dedicated to this freedom fighter. The Willem Prinsloo Agricultural Museum outside Pretoria centres around a farmstead dating from 1880. Traditional farming activities are demonstrated, and annual events include a prickly-pear festival, a mampoer festival and the Agricultural Museum Show.
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