The West Rand | 275km

Mine Head at CarltonvilleMine Head at Carltonville

JOHANNESBURG

see 'Egoli and Surroundings'

DANIE THERON MEMORIAL

This memorial marks the spot where Danie Theron, one of the legendary figures of the South African War, was killed. Born at Tulbagh in the Cape, Theron settled in the Transvaal and practised as a lawyer in Krugersdorp. At the outbreak of the South African War, he joined the Boer forces as a captain in the Wielrijders Rapportgangers Corps, a unit of despatch riders that used cycles. Following the Battle of Colenso, he was placed in charge of an elite corps of scouts trained by General Christiaan De Wet and known as Theron's Verkenningscorps. Theron was killed in a skirmish against a British detachment at Elandsfontein in September 1900. In recognition of his courage, the commando training school at Kimberley was named after him in 1968.

POTCHEFSTROOM

...was laid out along the banks of the Mooi River in November 1838 after a Voortrekker party, led by Commandant Andries Potgieter, settled in the area. The first Voortrekker congregation north of the Vaal River was established at Potchefstroom on 25 March 1842, and the settlement also served as the capital of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR) from 1857 until it was moved to Pretoria. The opening shots of the War of Independence (1880-81) were fired at Potchefstroom on 16 December 1880, beginning a 95-day Boer siege of the town's historic Fort.

Potchefstroom's other historic buildings include the Civic Centre 5 cruciform-shaped Dutch Reformed Church, completed in 1866 on the site of an earlier church, and the Old Presidency (1868), a small house where the first President of the ZAR, Marthinus Pretorius, lived for many years. Other noteworthy buildings include the neo-Rennaisance-style Landdrost (Magistrate's) Offices (1895) and Totius House (1906), residence of Dr Jacob du Toit, the Afrikaans author, poet and translator of the Bible into Afrikaans. The town has three house museums: Totius House, President Pretorius Museum and Goetz/Fleischack Museum, the only surviving example of the typical townhouses built around the town's market square in the 1850s.

Potchefstroom Museum focuses on the history and development of the area and has a valuable collection of paintings by Otto Landsberg. Among the town's other attractions is a 7-km-long avenue of oak trees - the longest such avenue in the southern hemisphere - with more than 700 trees. Potchefstroom is today the centre of a rich agricultural district, as well as a university town and is a noteworthy stopover during South African holidays.

CARLETONVILLE

Carletonville, like other West Rand towns, owes its existence to the rich gold deposits occurring here. Mining in the area dates back to the 1930s after two geologists, Dr Leopold Reinecke and Dr Rudolf Krahmann, confirmed the presence of gold under a thick sheet of lava and dolomite. Meanwhile, options had secretly been taken on farms in the area, and a new gold rush began after Reinecke and Krahmann made their announcement in October 1932.

Situated in one of the richest gold-producing areas in the world, the landscape to the south of Carletonville is dotted with the hea gears of numerous mines. Among these are the Western Deep Levels, whose main shaft reaches down 3 581 m below the surface. The town was laid out on the farm Twyfelvlakte and proclaimed in January 1948. It was named after Carleton Jones, one of the directors of the Consolidated Gold Fields company. In addition to serving the mining industry, Carletonville is also a centre for the district's maize farms.

Underground caves in the dolomite, along with the effects of mining, have from time to time produced gaping sinkholes in the area. In 1962, 29 people were disasterously killed at the West Driefontein Mine when a large chunk of earth was swallowed by a sinkhole.

WESTONARIA

...was proclaimed a town in 1938, its name a homophone of 'western areas' - the name of the company that developed the town. The main point of interest in the area is the Pullinger Shaft, named after the Pullinger brothers, who sank the first deep-level shaft. The town is a popular destination with the sky-diving fraternity.

RANDFONTEIN

Randfontein, meaning 'ridge fountain', was laid out on the farm of that name in 1890, four years after the mining magnate Joseph Benjamin Robinson bought several farms in the area. In 1889, Robinson founded the Randfontein Estates Gold Mining Company and developed the mine into the largest in the world. It had a mighty 600-stamp main battery for crushing ore, a large private power station and, for its time, the largest mine dump ever created.

DOORNKOP

Doornkop, on the farm Vlakfontein, marks the site where the invading force led by Dr Leander Starr Jameson surrendered to the Boer forces on 2 January 1896. The expedition, known as the Jameson Raid, was planned by Cecil John Rhodes, Jameson and leaders of the Uitlanders (expatriate whites) to seize the Transvaal by force. The plan called for Jameson to invade the Transvaal from Bechuanaland (modern Botswana) and to join up with the Uitlanders near Krugersdorp, from where they would continue to Pretoria to overthrow the government. Jameson assembled a 500-strong force in Pitsane (Botswana), and on the evening of 29 December 1895 he crossed into the ZAR. A planned Uitlander rising in Johannesburg never materialised, and after advancing some 250 km into the Transvaal in three days, Jameson's force was attacked by the Boers on 1 January 1896. After being surrounded, and with a large number of his men killed or wounded, Jameson was forced to surrender.

Krugersdorp now falls within the new municipal area of Mogale City, created in 2001. The name of the new municipality honours the Tswana chief, Mogale, for whom the Magaliesberg is named. Under its former name, Krugersdorp played a pivotal role in the events leading up to the War of Independence. In December 1880 a meeting was called on the farm Paardekraal where it was decided to restore the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR) as it had existed before the British annexation of the territory in 1877. On 14 December, the burghers built a cairn nearly 3 m high, topped with the Vierkleur (the flag of the ZAR), to symbolise their determination to restore the independence of the republic. An obelisk was built on a platform over the cairn in 1891. During the South African War, the British removed the rocks from the Paardekraal Monument and dumped them in the Vaal River near Vereeniging in 1900. The town was established to the west and southwest of the Paardekraal Monument in 1887 and named after the ZAR President, Paul Kruger.

Noteworthy buildings include the City Hall 4, Government Buildings (1890), comprising a Magistrate's Court and offices and the old railway station. To the west of the town lies the Krugersdorp Game Reserve, which covers about 1 500 ha. It has been stocked with about 1 000 head of game of 30 species, among them white rhino, giraffe, kudu, gemsbok, roan and sable antelope, red hartebeest, black wildebeest, springbok, impala and blesbok. For many visitors, though, the lion enclosure is the reserve's main attraction.

ROODEPOORT

...developed around a mining camp established by the Struben brothers on the farm Wilgespruit following the discovery of gold there in 1884. Gold-diggers and fortune-seekers rushed in, and numerous other camps soon sprung up. Roodepoort has since developed into a large residential and industrial area. Points of interest in and around the town for those on South African holidays include the Roodepoort Museum, the Witwatersrand National Botanical Garden and the Kloofendal Nature Reserve, where the Struben brothers discovered the Confidence Reef in September 1884.

The National Railway Museum has a fascinating collection of over 100 steam, diesel and underground electric locomotives, steam cranes, steam rollers, old passenger coaches and other items from to the era of steam. Roodepoort is host to the biennial Roodepoort International Eisteddfod, at Florida Lake. Formerly a marshy area, the lake is a popular recreation area, especially with water-sport enthusiasts, while the western part is an important breeding area for a variety of waterfowl.

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