Barberton, Mpumalanga, South Africa
The gold rush of the 19th Century started after the discovery of the reef here in 1883. This resulted in the haphazard establishment of the rather rough frontier town of Barberton, and not much has changed. A few semi-hermits still pan for gold in the nearby streams, hoping to strike it lucky. And of course, on the heels of the gold came South Africa's first stock exchange.
The gold in the area became uneconomical and richer reefs were discovered in Johannesburg. The stock exchange followed on the heels of the miners. Barberton is now a quiet and peaceful town with beautiful old buildings and set in stunning surroundings. There are some interesting attractions worth visiting in Barberton, including the nearby Songimvelo and Barberton Nature Reserve, and the Barberton Museum.
Nearby is the site of one of South Africa's least celebrated but most interesting artists - Nukain Mabuza. Mabuza is a self taught, self inspired artist who decorated the stones around his dwelling - painting the whole hillside in bright colours. Mabuza died in 1981, but the site, which was restored by the Barberton Museum, is open to visitors.
Barberton is situated about 50 kilometres from Nelspruit and is reached by taking the R40 or R38 from the N4. This town is close to the Swaziland border, although on the less often used and slightly more rugged route.