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  About the Free State - Thabo Mofutsanyana District



The district of Thabo Mofutsanyana lying to the east is the most scenic region of the Free State. On the edge of the Drakensberg and Maluti Mountains, whether sculptures sandstone cliffs dominate the landscape.

Golden Gate Resort and Qwa Qwa National Park where shapes and colors, light and shadow reveal nature at its most magnificent is surely a national treasure and inspiration to the many artists who have made their home in nearby Clarens.
Seekoevlei, a vast wetlands area, named for the hippopotamus recently reintroduced to the area is a haven for bird watchers – 350 species having been recorded. Small carnivores, several, African wild cat en white tailed mongoose inhabit the area, thriving on birds and rodent nesting in the marshes.

CITY/ TOWNS - Arlington, Bethlehem, Clarens, Clocolan, Excelsior, Ficksburg, Fouriesburg, Harrismith, Hobhouse, Kestell, Ladybrand, Lindley, Marquard, Memel, Paul Roux, Petrus Steyn, Qwa-Qwa / Phuthadijhaba, Reitz, Rosendal, Senekal, Slabberts, Steynsrus, Tweespruit, Van Reenen, Vrede, Warden.

Arlington is situated on the R707 and was founded in 1930. The town in those years formed an important rail link between Lindley and Senekal and the red brick houses along the railway tracks are reminiscent of a once vibrant railway junction. Today it is the centre of a large farming community.

Bethlehem, surrounds by the magnificent scenery was founded in 1864 on the farm Pretoruiskloof. The town is situated on the N5 route between Bloemfontein and Durban and is the principal town of the Eastern Free State. Its biblical name means “house of bread” which is most appropriate as
it forms the centre of a fertile wheat-growing region, producing 65% of the country total wheat crop.

Culture & Heritage:

*BAARTMAN HOUSE - An impressive collection of wagon and horse carriages, antiquated farming implements, kitchen utensils, woodcarvings and old leather.
*NAZARETH MISSION CHURCH MUSEUM - Housed in the Nazareth Mission Church. Delicate costumes, porcelain, well worn leather and antiquated kitchen utensils and farming implements.
*SANDSTONE BUILDINGS - Many buildings in town are superb examples of sandstone architecture. Many are now provincial heritage sites.

Clarens, the Jewel of the Freestate is endowed with more trees than most other Free State towns - the fresh, light green willows and colourful blossoms of the many fruit trees are an unforgettable sight in spring time, whilst the magnificent autumm shades of the Lombard poplars attract artists, photographers and nature lovers.

In 1910 the farm Leliehoek (near the kloof) was purchased from Mr Hermanus Steyn, and in 1911 Mr Piet de Villiers sold his farm Naauwpoort (situated near the titanic) to a company wanting to establish a village here in the mountains. These two farms were devided into erven and sold for the sum of fifty pounds each. In 1912 a commission was appointed to finalise negotiations, and decisionwas made to name the village Clarens in honour of President Paul Kruger's influence in the area. President Paul Kruger spent his last days as a voluntary exile in the attractive village of Clarens in Switzerland and Clarens was thus a very apt name for the mountainous village here in the Eastern Free State.

Culture & Heritage:

*CLARENS CONSERVANCY - A beautiful conservation area offering numerous outdoor attractions, including hiking and moutain biking trails with overnight facilities.
*GOLDEN GATE NATIONAL PARK - Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains of the north eastern Fre State lies the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. The park derives its name from the brilliant shades of gold cast by the sun on the park's sanstone cliffs, especially the imposing Brandwag rock, keeping vigil over the main rest camp. This 11 600 hectares of unique enviroment is true highland habitat, providing home to a variety of mammals - black wildebeest, eland, blesbok, oribi, springbok and Burchell's zebra and birds, including the reare beared vulture (lammergeier) and the equally rare bald ibis, which breed on the ledges in the sandstone cliffs. Ribbokkop, the highest point in the park reveals a breathtaking tapestry of red, yellow and purple hues as its warm shades merge with the cool mountain shadows towards evening.
*TITANIC ROCK - Overlooking the entrance to Clarens.

Clocolan was founded in 1906 at the foot of the 1820m high Hlohlowane Mountain. Clocolan derived its name from the Sotho word Hlohloane meaning push and fight. This gracious, sunny town offers spectacular views of the Maluti Mountains and is graced with awesome contrasting scenery all year round.

Culture & Heritage:

* ANGLICAN CHURCH- Designed by Sir Herbert Baker.
*EVENING STAR - Old homestead built by missionaries during the 19th century. Ethnic gallery, tea and coffee shop, light lunches served by prior arrangement, hiking trail and picnic spot for day visitors.
* BLACK HOLE - People used to fill their lamps with the liquid obtained from the blackhole.Years ago oil was drilled for.
*CHERRY ORCHARDS - During spring the cherry orchards are in bloom, offering breathtakingly beautiful panoramas of pink blossoms against a cobalt sky and moutain backdrops.
*SAN ROCK ARTS - On the farms De Hoek, Noho and Vlakbult.

Ficksburg was founded on 12 June 1867 and named after General Jan Fick. The town is situated in the scenic panorama along the Maloti Route and lies at the foot of the Mpharane Mountain on the banks of the Caledon river. Up in the hills are numerous caves with lovely examples of San rock art.

Culture & Heritage:
* ANGLICAN CHURCH - View unique artworks in colored glass by the late Helen Tennant, depicting indigenous plants found in this area.
*EASTERN FREESTATE SANDSTONE - Grace your garden with genuine sandstone.
*FIREARM MUSEUM - Visit the Pinedene Small Arms Museum for a glimpse of days gone by.
*ROCK ART - Well preserved paintings can be viewed.
*SANGOMAS - Visit farm Wonderklip.

The town was established in 1892 and was named after Christoffel Fourie (Rooi Stoffel) on whose farm Groenfontein it was laid out. Surrounded by flat- topped sandstone hills, Fouriesburg lies only 10km from the Lesotho border, with rustic enchantment and many attractions.

Culture & Heritage:
*BATTLESITES - Several Anglo-Boer War battlesites in the vicinity.
*DUTCH REFORMED CHURCH - During the Basotho Wars, Paul Kruger and his commando camped here.
*FOURIESBURG HOTEL - A sharming pice of architectural History.
*SAN ROCK ART - Can be viewed on more then 27 farms.
*QUEEN VICTORIA - A unique sandstone formation.
*SANDSTONE MUSEUM - An old statley museum featuring carefully constructed historical exhibits.
*SURRENDER HILL - A memorial to fallen british soldiers.

This town was founded in 1849 and is one of the oldest in the Free State with a rich history dating back to prehistoric times. The town is situated on the N3 route between Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal. The town was established due to the location's strategic position, and was used as a major base by the British during and after the Anglo-Boer War.

Culture & Heritage:
*78 WARDEN STREET - The British influence is still discernable in the architectural styles in town. The oldest house in town.
*BLOCKHOUSE - Built by the British near the Botanical Garden.
*DEBORA RETIEF GARDEN - A 250 million- year - old, 33m fossilised tree lies in this garden next to the town hall.
*KERKENBERG - The Voortrekkers camped in the area, whilst their leader, Piet Retief , negotiated with the Zulu leader Dingane.
*MUSEUM - The town's people are developing a small comunity museum in the Market Hall at the back of the Town Hall.
*PETRIFIED TREE - The tree is 30 m long and estimated to be 250 million years old. It can be viewed at the Town Hall.
*SWINBURNE - The second oldest bridge in the Free State and now a national monument.
*TOWN HALL - A graceful sandstone and brick building built in 1907 and a national monument.

The small town of Kestell is situated only 45km from Bethlehem and was named after a Dutch Reformed Church minister, JP Kestell. The town was founded in 1905 and boasts no less than 23 sandstone buildings.

Culture & Heritage:
*DUTCH REFORMED CHURCH - Second largest sandstone church in the Free State.
*GROENKOP BATTLESITE - took place in the area on Christmas eve 1901. The Boers had one of their greatest victories over the British.
*OAK TREE - A huge old oak tree at the foot of the hill where church services were held until 1905 when the congregation was founded.
*PAUL MARE GRAVESITE - Off the Bethlehem road. The grave of Paul Mare, the Voortrekker Leader who died after his ox-wagon rode over him.

Established in 1878 and named after the American missionary David Lindley, the town was the site of many bloody battles fought during the Anglo-Boer War (1899 - 1902) Lindley is also the birthplace of DR. Danie Craven, famous South African rugby legend.

Culture & Heritage:
*BRITISH MEMORIAL - The Lindley churchyard is a memorial to the British soldiers who lost their lives at Yeomanry Hill on 31 May 1900.
*DUTCH REFORMED CHURCH - Burnt down during the Anglo - Boer War.
*PREHISTORIC STONE HUTS - Remains of the area's original inhabitants can be found in the region.

Marquard was founded in 1905 and is the birthplace of former State President CR Swart. It is regarded as the Gateway to the Cherry route and the eastern Free State. This beautiful farming village lies close to Lesotho, and it’s convenient location offers visitors easy access to the magic of the Highlands.

Culture & Heritage:
* As part of the 1938 Great Trek centenary celebrations, each citizen carried a rock to the Dutch Reformed Church to create this commemoration. A buried message is to be excavated here in 2038.
*CHRISTMASKRANS CAVE - Boer women and children took refuge here from the British during the Anglo-Boer War.

Memel was founded in 1913 and is situated in the Drakensberg area in the northeastern corner of the Free State. The quaint town is nestled between vast plains, mountains and streams. The name Memel (meaning surround water) is of Prussian origin and is indeed an apt description, for this is a water rich area with unique wetlands. The whole area is of spectacular beauty and is a nature lover's dream.

Culture & Heritage:
*DUTCH REFORMED CHURCH - Built behind the monument in 1925.
*MERCURY AIRWAYS PLANE CRASH - Spitzkop a koppie near Memel, was the site of South Africa's first commercial plane crash.
*REBELLION MEMORIAL - The 1914 Rebellion started here.

Paul Roux is situated next to the N5 - the national road between Durban and Bloemfontein. It is a small town with several Sandstone buildings and was founded in 1909 and initially named Duplessisville. It was later renamed after the Rev Paul Roux of the Dutch Reformed Church.

Culture & Heritage:
*AFRICA MATERIAL FACTORY - Where local women inspired by their surroundings, paint the most beautiful African designs on fabric.
*DINOSAUR FOOTPRINTS - View on a farm in the district.
*DUTCH REFORMED CHURCH (1914) - Built with Sandstone and clay.
*HANDPAINTED TEXTILES - Beautiful local materials can be bought on a farm 10km from town.
*MARTHINUSDAL MONUMENT - Erected by the 1938 symbolic Trekkers for the honor of the two children who died of measles during the Trek of JJ Prinsloo.
*OPEN - AIR MUSEUM - A Collection of antique farming implements.
*PW BOTHA - Former State President PW Botha was born on the farm Telegraaf in the Paul Roux district.

Qua Qua lies in the foothills of the Drakensberg and Maluti Mountains. The frequent snow on the peaks of the surroundings led the ancient San to call it Qua Qua (whiter than white) .

Established on the farm Sterkfontein in 1914 Petrus Steyn is located in a major wheat and maize producing region. (1702m) and is dominated by one of the biggest co- operative grain silos in the Free State.

Culture & Heritage:
* DIRKIE UYS SQUARE - The Wagon Wheel Monument on the Dirkie Uys Square commemorates the Great Trek of 1838.
*DUTCH REFORMED MISSION CHURCH - About 11km from town on the R707 to Frankfort. This unusual church is known as the Crossroads (Die Kruispad).
*LANGUAGE MONUMENT - Commemorating the centenary of Afrikaans.

*Reitz was named after FW Reitz , President of the Republic of the Orange Free State in 1889. The town's history is intertwined with that of the Anglo-Boer War , as depicted in many monuments adoring the town. It is an attractive town with tree lined streets and beautiful kept gardens including cycads.

Culture & Heritage:
*HISTORICAL MONUMENT - commemorating events of the Anglo - Boer War.
*SAN ROCK ART - Near the town there is a large cave where Bushmen painted the walls for many years.
*LION BREEDING PROJECT - On the farm of the Van Rooyens residents
*ROSE NURSERY - Roses are exported from the farm Dancor

Rosendal was founded in 1911 and is located 43km north from Ficksburg on the road to Paul Roux, the town is situated in a scenic horseshoe formed by hills and mountains running from east through north to west of the town.

Senekal was established in 1874 and named after Commandant-General FP Senekal (1815 - 1866 )who was killed during the second Basotho War.

Culture & Heritage:
*AD KEET HOUSE - Home from the late poet.
*BIDDULPHSBERG BATTLEFIELD - One of the many Anglo-Boer War battlesites from 1900 skirmishes.
*DUTCH REFORMED CHURCH - Now more then a century old.
*FOSSILISED TREE - Trunks Unique fossilized tree trunks which grew about 250 000 years ago situated at the Dutch Reformed Church.

Slabberts is situated 25km south of Bethlehem on the Fouriesburg road The Hamlet was established close to the station and has one shop selling basics and petrol. It is the ideal overnight stop between the Eastern Cape and Gauteng.

Founded in 1910 and named after the last president of the Orange Free State Republic M.T Steyn. An old fashioned rural aggregation of cattle farms forms this settlement.

Culture & Heritage:
*SANDSTONE CHURCH - A fine piece of turn-of-the century sandstone architecture.

a Village surrounded by beautiful mountains and on the N2 route to Durban.

Culture & Heritage:
*LLANDAFF ORATORY - National Monument believed to be the smallest church in the world seating eight people. It was built in honour of Llandaff Matthew who tragically lost his life in an act of bravery in a coal mining disaster.

The beautiful village of Vrede surrounded by a fast agricultural region, was founded in 1863 after a settlement of a local argument on where to establish a new township, it served briefly as the seat of the Orange Free State government during the South African War of 1899-1902 and was the focal point of the Boer Rebellion 1914.

Culture & Heritage:
*GRANITE MONUMENT - The huge granite monumnet built in 1838 commemorating the Ox- wagon Trek of 1838.
*SHEEP HOUSE - cnr Van der Lingen & Market Sreet.
*WAR MEMORIALS - In front of the Dutch Reformed Church features a Burghers Memorial to fallen Boers and a Memorial Garden to honor British Soldiers.

Warden was founded in 1912 and became municipality in 1920. The town, located on the N 3 between Johannesburg and Durban, was named after CF Warden, landrost of Harrismith and son of Major HD Warden, founder of Bloemfontein.

Culture & Heritage:
*DUTCH REFORMED CHURCH - It is the largest sandstone church in the southern hemisphere. The church has a steeple 45m high and can accommodate 1750 people, completed in 1924.
*GRANITE TARGET - Used by the Boers during the Anglo-Boer War for target practice.

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