One of the world’s richest diamond mines is the Premier Diamond Mine outside Pretoria. The Cullinan diamond found here in 1905 was the world’s largest uncut stone. It was presented to King Edward by the Transvaal government. The king had it cut into 105 smaller gems. One of them is the largest cut diamond (530 carats) in the world – it’s called the Star of Africa and is mounted in the British royal sceptre. Hey! Give it back to Africa.
The administrative capital of South Africa and home to most embassies, Pretoria is considered by many to be Jo’burg’s safer sister. Truth is, they’re like chalk and cheese. Pretoria is home to the Voortrekker Monument and, by implication, Afrikaans culture. There are some major universities and a thriving alternative art and culture scene.
Pretoria is a sunny, warm, spacious city, notable for its beautiful gardens, flowering trees (especially jacarandas), its concentration of government and provincial offices, and various official organisations with their armies of civil servants. It’s only 30 minutes away from the Johannesburg International Airport.
Some of Pretoria’s highlights
Church Square in the centre of town is surrounded by grand old public buildings. One of them is the Palace of Justice where Mandela was tried. Paul Kruger’s statue stands in the centre of the square. Museums near Church Square include the National Museum of Culture, the Art Museum, the Science and Technology Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Police Museum. Heroes’ acre on the east side of Church Street is the burial place of a number of people who played important roles in South Africa’s history. Australians can visit the grave of the (in)famous Breaker Morant. Further west along Church Street is the Union Building. This red sandstone edifice is the headquarters of the government. It stands on a hill surrounded by gardens and was built after the Union of South Africa had been created in 1910. The structure is supposed to symbolise the unity between English and Afrikaner. These days it symbolises the Rainbow Nation.
A monumental faith
The Voortrekker Monument south of Pretoria was built to commemorate the determination of the Afrikaners to survive and overcome the difficulties that they encountered while searching for the Promised Land. It’s a powerful symbol of Afrikaner nationalism and of their belief that God gave them this land for their own use. Murals in the interior of the building depict the story of the Great Trek and of the Battle of Blood River where about 500 Boers defeated an army of thousands of Zulus. At the foot of the monument there is a small museum which reconstructs the lifestyle of the settlers and shows the routes they followed.
More info on:
•Art and Cultural Museums •Science, technology and ecology displays •Nature and Conservation areas •Day trips around Pretoria •A brief history
The Jacaranda festival in the third week in October. The Pretoria Show in August.
What's in a name?
The Voortrekkers named their capital Pretoria after Andries Pretorius, a hero of the battle of Blood River.
The National Botanical Gardens cover 77 hectares and are planted with indigenous plants. 20 000 species are grouped according to their region of origin, so if you’d like a sneak preview before you travel around the country, this is a good place to start. If you’re here on a weekend there are sometimes markets or open-air concerts in the gardens.
Flea and Art Markets
The Hatfield and Kolonnade Markets are held every Sunday. The market at Jan Smuts House is on the 2nd and last Saturday of every month. There is a daily market on Strijdom Square. The Wonderboom Market is held every weekend.
Go to the drive-in movies at Wonderboom. Go ice-skating at Kolonnade. Do some go-kart racing in Sunnyside or Menlyn. There’s an indoor circuit in Arcadia. Try out the laser games and ten-pin bowling in Arcadia. Gamble at the Carousel and Morula Sun casinos.
Places to Stay
What to do
(randomly selected service providers from all regions)
Topsail House is a perfect place to stay in the centre of Simon's Town.
(Simon's Town,Cape Town)
An awesome croc encounter and plenty of other animals to see…
They are close to Tourist Information and in the centre of town.
(Cape Town City Centre,Cape Town)
Go adventuring in the Wilderness - abseil, kloof or canoe.
Tekweni Backpacking hostel in Durban cooks. One can’t say anything else about this ever-buzzy hostel and its hordes of people.
Barry’s offers upmarket accommodation (linen and towels provided) at backpacker rates.
They run their own adventures and have loads of info on the area.
Soul country, food for the soul.
Cape Town backpackers says it all in the name......
(Cape Town City Bowl,Cape Town)
A genuine opportunity to volunteer and help children in need. You don't pay anything except your own costs, there is no placement fee or any other kind of fee to be paid.
(Graaff-Reinet,Eastern Cape Inland and the Karoo)