Barberton, An Awaking Giant

There once was a Town called Barberton. In the old East Transvaal (Mpumalanga). And one day Badger decided he wanted to pay this historical town a visit. So he packed his Kombi full of family members and took the road…

There are many sights and attractions in and around Barberton. Some sources say you need three days to cover the whole area. Badger only had a day. So he went to the Tourism Info Office in Pilgrim Street. They were very helpful and supplied Badger with all the info he needed. There were a lot of routes layed out in and out of the town.

There was the

  • Birdwatching Tours
  • Goldpanning Tours
  • Golden Quary Tours
  • Mountainbike Tours
  • Scenic Nature Tours
  • Photographic Tours
  • Msauli Ghost Town Tours
  • Eureka City Tour
  • Underground Mining Tours
  • Geotrail Tours

Badger did the Heritage Walk Tour that took you to all the old buildings in the Town. Let Badger first give you crash course in the History of Barberton. The town was established when in 1884, brothers Fred & Henry Barber and their cousin discovered a gold pan. On 24 July 1884 Dave Wilson, the Gold Commissioner named the town Barberton. Mines were started here, but in a short time gold was discovered in the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg) and only the bigger mines remained. For those who likes reading, Bryce Courtenay’s novel, The Power of One Takes place in this town

The Tourism Info Office gave Badger map of the town and listed all the attractions with numbers. The first place Badger stopped at was the local museum. There they had a Geology (rocks), Mining, Swazi and General History of Barberton section that were on displayed. Mostly it was wheelchair accessible, but there were a step or 2 Badger had to overcome. It is very worthwhile to spend some time at the museum. It was interesting. The museum also gives recognition to all the women Anti-Apartheid Freedom Fighters.

The next stop was the BLOCKHOUSE. We could only see it from outside. It was very interesting to see. The fort dates back to 1901 and was one of the first to be constructed by the British in the Anglo-Boer War. It was built for a position of defence. It was manned by the Barberton Town Guard.

Next up was Rimers Creek where they digged for gold. It is very run down and full of litter. It was very sad to see that. And then it was Fernlea House. The path from the car to the house was NOT wheelchair accessible due to budget cuts. Fernlea House is a wood and iron house and it displays how the houses looked in those days.

Badger wanted to go to Stopforth House but it was locked up. Then he went to Belhaven House. It appears to have mostly the same background as Stopforth. Belhaven is a sample of a pre constructed house with corrugated iron walls and pressed iron panels on the interior. It is furnished in the style of the former Victorian/ Edwardian Periods and it showcases the lifestyle of the wealthy middle class families. The guide at Belhaven House was very helpful and knowledgeable. It is worth to pop a visit to this house. And it was WHEELCHAIRACCESIBLE!

It was lunchtime and Badger had a pizza at Pappa’s Kitchen, an Italian Restaurant. It was heavenly and rejuvenated him to resume with exploring the town.

From there on Badger went to:

  • The Globe- A former Tavern, school, storeroom. This building is being advertised currently as To Rent.
  • Garden of Rememberence for fallen Warriors in the World Wars
  • Phoenix Hotel
  • Jock of the Bushveld Statue in front of the town hall
  • Stock Exchange Buildings– where they traded gold
  • Market Square- where they had shops and tradesmen
  • Chapsticks Gentlemen Club- bar
  • Anglican Church
  • St John Lodge
  • Steam Locomotive- Barberton last Steam locomotive near the entrance of the town. Only the front part of the train is still visible

 

Not everywhere in the town was Wheelchair Accesible but Badger kept on going. He wouldn’t let anyone stop him from discovering all the history locked up in this town. Badger thinks the town has a beautiful topography and its ecosystems is top notch. It is suited in a valley with tree plantations that stretched the landscapes as you drive further away from the town.

Badger saw enough businesses and people inside the town to know it is striving, but he thinks more should be done to market this town. I think people underestimate the value Barberton can have on the world. Badger thinks their are a lot of untapped markets present.

FUN FACTS

  • The mountains around Barberton are amongst the oldest in the world, dating back to 3.5 billion years ago and the mountains include some of the oldest exposed rocks on the planet earth. These volcanic rocks, which scientists call the Barberton Greenstone Belt, have given direct evidence of the conditions of life on the surface of the very early earth. The Greenstone Belt is unique and offers a lot for social and economic development.
  • Robert Jameson discovered the Barberton Daisy in 1889
  • Songimvelo Nature Reserve is situated in the Barberton Mountain lands and is the Mpumalanga Parks Board’s largest reserve, extending over 500 square kilometers.
  • Sheba Mine is one of the biggest gold producing Mines in the World
  • Tony Parks book, The Prey also takes places in Barberton
  • For every 15 people in Barberton was a bar or a whore house
  • Cockney Liz was a singer who performed for the miners in the bars. According to legend was she auctioned off to the highest bidder every Friday Night.
  • The used to be a British concentration camp in Barberton for the Boers in which many women and children died.
  • A lot of main street names in Barberton has colonial ties
  • A character in the famous Sherlock Holmes adventure “The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax” made his fortune in Barberton. Small world, huh?
  • Barberton was the home of Percy Fitzpatrick, Author of Jock of the Bushveld

There were many more placed Badger didn’t get time to visit, because his time ran out, but he hope he inspired some of you guys out there to take your time and visit this unpolished gem of a town.

So long Barberton. Till we meet again….

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