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  About the Free State - Xhariep District



Southern of the region is Xhariep. Fed by the Orange and Caledon Rivers, the Gariep Dam is set among koppies and rocky outcrops and the dry open plains of the encroaching Karoo.

Fish farming is carried out and educational tours of the hatchery and dam wall may be taken, or enjoy the water sports, game and bird viewing and sundowner cruises on the dam. Moving further afield, one may go on a sightseeing tour of the Landzicht wine cellar at Jacobsdal and the Open Mine museum and the mining hole in Jagersfontein, where the Excelsior diamond, later known as the Jubilee diamond weighing 995.5 carats, with an estimated price of R1.2 billion was found.
History, geography, diverse cultures and the industry of men and women have created in the Free State a variety of recreational activities and pursuits as good as any in the country. They pride themselves with unique products available.

Towns/Cities: Bethulie, Edenburg, Gariep Dam, Fauresmith, Jacobsdal, Jagersfontein, Koffiefontein, Luckhiff, Petrusburg, Phillipolis, Reddersburg, Rouxville, Smithfield,
Springfontein, Strydenburg, Trompsburg, Zastron.

This picturesque cattle-farming town probably has the record for changing its name the most of any town in the country. Some of the previous names were Groot Moordenaarspoort (1829), Caledon (1833), Verheull (1835), and Heidelberg (1863). The present name, Bethulie, means "chosen by Go", which is probably well know, as the violent period before its formation led to the death of many.

*Cultural & Heritage
*Burgher Monument and Graveyard - Apart from the Burgher Monument, the graveyard contains the graves of several British Soldiers.
*Concentration Camp Graveyard - 1718 children, woman and men died in this concentration camp.
*Chief Lepois Dwelling - Part of the original house is still in existence.
*DH Steyn Bridge - at 1,2km in length, this is the longest bridge in the country.
*Dutch Reformed Church - Completed in 1887, now a national monument.
*Grave of JJ Venter - Former acting President of the Free State Republic 1863. One of the founders of the Reformed Church in the Free State.
*Graves of Pellisier Family -
At the museum. The first French missionary stationed here. Jean Pellisier died in Bethulie in 1867.
*Horse Memorial - A tribute to horses used on battlefields.
*Louw Wepener Monument - Wepener was killed while storming the Basotho mountain stronghold of Thaba Bosiu.
*Monument of the Horse - this commemorates the role of the horse in the history of South Africa.
*Ox Wagon Monument - Situated in town, a tribute to the mode of transport employed by the Voortrekkers.
*Pellisier House Museum - Housed in the original mission station buildings and built from 1834 - 1835. Depicts the history of the area.
*Remains of Kraals and Graves - not developed as tourist sites, yet an important part of the early history of Bethulie.

Edenburg was established in 1862. This typical Free State town sets its own pace alongside the N1, the country's busiest national road. The citizens of Edenburg believe that the name of their town was derived from the Biblical concept of Eden, and when one looks at the tranquil environment and the golden sunsets, it is quite clear where this thought comes from. It was founded on the farm Rietfontein in 1862. It is currently a prosperous sheep and cattle farming area.

*Cultural & Heritage
*Berliner Missionary Station - Located at Bethanie, 16km from town, it is the oldest mission of the Berlin Missionary Society north of the Orange River.
*Dutch Reformed Church - Voortrekker graves dating from the 19th century.
*Postal Coach Tracks - Dating back to 2 February 1952.
*Town Hall - Declared a national monument.

Gariep Dam, which is the youngest town in the Free State, officially became a registered municipality as recently as 1994. It was originally erected in the late 1960's for the construction workers building the Gariep Dam. After the official opening of the dam in 1972 the potential of the town as a tourist haven next to the largest dam in South Africa was recognised. The Provincial Administration of the Free State took over management until it officially became a municipality in 1994. It is a lovely, clean town, which is situated virtually in the centre of South Africa. It is thus the ideal inland holiday destination as well as a perfect stopover for tourists travelling between Gauteng and Cape Town.

*Eco & Nature
*Gariep Dam Wall - There are 13km of passages and halls within the walls of the Gariep Dam.
*During the annual water festival, church services and dances are held.
*Gariep Power Station - The first hydro-electric power station built by Eskom. Tours through the power station can be arranged.
*Gariep Nature Reserve - 051 754 0026 - This reserve, covering an area of about 12000 hectares, extends from the Gariep dam wall all along the Free State border.

It is a reserve of contrasts, where open plains, dominated by mixed Nama Karoo vegetation, link many koppies and ridges to one another.

*Cultural & Heritage
*Shell Collection - View this beautiful and outstanding collection of more than 4000 shells at 10 Tinktinkie Street.
*Cultural & Heritage - In February 1901 it was laid out by Capt Wynne. More than 366 people died in the camp, the main reason of death being measles.

The first plots of Fauresmith, the second oldest town in the Free State, were measured and sold during 1849. It was named after Rev. Phillip Faure, moderator of the Dutch Reformed Church and the governor of the Cape Colony, Sir Harry Smith. It began as a church settlement and the first church service, which was attended by 32 people, was held under a tree on 9 November 1848. Fauresmith is the only place in South Africa, and one of three in the world, where the railroad runs in the middle of the main road. Today it is mostly a farming community.

*Cultural & Heritage
*Burger Monument - In memory of the Burghers of the Republic of the Orange Free State who lost their lives during the Anglo-Boer War.
*Church Reformation Monument - Erected in 1917 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Church Reformation started by Martin Luther in 1517.
*Dr. WH Boshoff Homestead - A fine example of sandstone architecture, this building is now a national monument.
*Greak Trek Monument - Situated in front of the Town Hall, a small monument commemorates the centenary of the Great Trek from 1836 - 1838.
*Graves of British Soldiers - In the older part of Reichardt Park cemetery are 25 graves of fallen British soldiers.
*Historic Church Tree - Reverent Faure and William Rovertson, served the first Holy Communion to 32 members of the congregation of Piet River on 9 November 1848.
*Murderers Graves - In 1815 a public execution was staged at Slagtersnek Cape Colony when five rebels were hanged simultaneously.
*Old Standard Bank - A national monument, on of the oldest bank buildings in the country.
*Railway Line - This line was opened in 1906, linking Fauresmith with the main Cape Town / Johannesburg line at the railway junction of Springfontein.
*Retired Steam Locomotive - In 1926 a reserve, called Karoo Tuine, and a research laboratory were established. Today it forms part of the Randjiesvlei Hiking Trail.
*Stone-age Implement - Many implements and artifacts, including stone hand axes and cleavers were found, dating back to the Early and Middle Stone Ages.
*The Old Jail - Built in 1881 and still considered to be one of the best in the Free State.
Town Hall - Built in authentic Victorian Style.

In 1859 Jacobsdal was established on the farm Kalkfontein, owned by Christoffel Jacobs. The original house of Mr. Jacobs, which will be used as an information bureau and museum, is now being restoed to its original state.

*Cultural & Heritage
*Dutch Reformed Church - Built in 1879.
*Magersfontein Battlefield & Museum - 20km northwest of Jacobsdal, this battlefield along with a number of memorial sites were declared national monuments.
*Jacobsdal cemetary grave - dating back to 1859.

This town was founded in 1871, thanks to the discovery of the first diamond in the area by a farmer, Mr. JJ de Klerk in 1870. In the same year, Klerk’s farm was declared public diggings. The Jagersfontein diamond mine is the oldest of its kind in the world, and two of the 10 biggest diamonds ever found (the 972 carat Excelsior diamond and the 637 carat Reitz diamond) come from here. An old mining museum, called "Jagers Mining Village" is being erected next to the most beautiful and deepest handmade open mine in the world. The diameter of the hole is 760m and it is nearly just as deep.

*Cultural & Heritage
*Jagersfontein Graveyard - Many war heroes were buried here.
*Masonic Lodge - The oldest Free Mason building north of the Gariep River.
*Moth Museum - Memorabilia from various wars, including the Anglo-Boer War, World War One & Two, and the Namibian Border War.
*Open Mine Museum and Lookout Post - The towns fascinating history is documented here. There is a lookout post nearby offering views of the mine hole.
*Roman Catholic Church - Built in 1881. Churches from various denominations that were built between 1881 and 1891.

This modern country town in the south-west Free State is home to some of the best quality diamonds in the world. The name Koffiefontein is said to come from transport riders who often stopped at the spring in the area to enjoy a cup of coffee. When one of them discovered a diamond in 1870 the growth started, but it was only in 1870 growth started, and it was only in 1892 that the town was proclaimed and is therefore very suited for visitors to be greeted by a huge coffee pot at the entrance of the town that, according to its citizens, and it is the symbol of their hospitality. In addition, it is probably the only town in South Africa that maintained it’s rural character despite blooming mining activities.

*Cultural & Heritage
*World War Two Murials
*Open-air Museum - The remaining walls of Second World War Two prisoner of war camps that features some very impressive mural painting by Fiasco, an Italian, who was inmate of the camp.
*Coffee Pot Fountain - at the entrance of the town Mine Lookout Point
*De Beers Open Mine Lookout Point
*Etienne le Roux Farm - home of one of South Africa's best novelists. He is buried on the farm Ja/Nee just outside of town.

This village was established on the farm Koffiekuil in 1892. It was named after the Dutch Reformed minister Rev. HJ Luckhoff. An important source of income in the Luckhoff district is merino sheep farming. This small idyllic town offers you beauty and tranquility that could only force you to change pace and leave the rush of the city behind. The unique succulents found in this area fit in perfectly with the beautiful surroundings of the Van Der Kloof Dam.

*Cultural & Heritage
*Monument commemorating the Great Trek, approx. 3km outside the town, on the Fauresmith Road.
*Gas lamp streetlights in front of the City Hall, used to provide light in earlier years.
*Gunpowder House, dating from the Anglo Boer War

Petrusburg was founded in 1876, and is a rich agricultural centre that was laid out on the farm Diepfontein in 1891. It was named after Petrus Albert Venter whose estate provided the money to buy the farm. There are numerous salt pans in the district and is surrounded by high hills and set in a lush green valley, irrigated by the waters of the Orange River.

*Cultural & Heritage
*Many authentic Karoo style houses line the streets while monuments depict the difficult times in the history of the town.
*British Soldiers trenches
*Explore the koppies at the southern entrance to the town and find the British soldiers trenches from the Anglo Boer War 1899.
*Block houses dating back from the Anglo-Boer War Dutch Reformed Church Museum - The building was erected in 1901 and the museum displays century old clothing and other articles from years gone by.
*Kings Hydrant - Erected in November 1903 in honour of King Edward VII.
*Paardeberg Battlefield - and Anglo-Boer War Museum 23km outside of town.
*Poplar Grove Battlefield - Where General De Wet unsuccessfully tried to stop the British advance into Bloemfontein.

Philoppolis is the oldest settlement in the Free State and its origin can be traced as far back as a mission station that received its name from Rev. 1823. It belonged to the London Missionary Society and was used for the benefit of the resident San. The Griqua leader, Adam Kok, settled in Philippolis with his people John Philip in 1826, and was appointed as a protector for the mission. When the Oranje Free State government agreed to sell the land to Great Britain for 400 pounds, Adam Kok migrated to Griqualand East. Many of the town buildings in this lovely old historic town have been declared National Monuments and they make delightful viewing.

*Cultural & Heritage
Philippolis is truly a journey through the past in the present where old historic canons keep watch over present times. Many houses, some dating back to earlier than 1860, still have the typical architectural style of those years. For tourists that enjoy a look into the life of yesteryear this is absolutely the perfect destination.
*Adam Kok House - Home of the well-known Griqua leader.
*Emily Hobhouse School of Weaving.
*CWH Van der Post House - Birthplace of Sir Lourens van der Post. Declared a national monument, the building is today utilized as a Guesthouse.
*Pulpit of the Dutch Reformed Church - It is hand-crafted from wild olive wood. The Church is now a national monument.
*Old-Jail - Now a beautiful and interesting Guesthouse.
*Transgariep Museum - exhibits depict the history of the area.
*Two Ships Cannons - Placed in the Municipal gardens by Adam Kok.
*Van der Post Memorial Garden - Sir Lourens van der Post's ashes are kept in the garden.

The origin of this town is directly linked to the Dutch Reformed Parish that was established on the farm Vlakfontein in 1859. The town Reddersburg was laid out two years later. The name of the town means "Saviour's Fort" and it relates directly to the Saviour, Jesus Christ. During those years the town was well known for its strict moral laws and the usage of profane language meant the banishment from the town.

*Cultural & Heritage
*Christiaan de Wet Memorial - A white obelisk commemorating Christiaan de Wet 1854-1922, who captured an entire British column during the Anglo-Boer war. It is based on an original monument of stones placed by the community to reflect Afrikaner unity.
*Mostertshoek Battlefield - The Boersd succeeded in overwhelming the British force and on 4 April the white flag was hoisted.
*Civic Monument - Commemorates the Boers killed in the Anglo-Boer war.
*Republic Monument - Commemorating the country becoming a republic.
*Mostertshoek Battlefield - where the Boers overwhelmed the English on 4 April 1900.
*Reformed and Dutch Reformed Churches - Sandstone buildings.
*Small Paardekraal Monument - In honour of Gen. CR de Wet.

During 1863 the mail between the Cape Colony and the Free State was redirected to the farm Zuurbult due to irregularities at Aliwal-North. Petrus Wepenaar founded Rouxville on the farm. The town was named after Rev. Pieter Roux who travelled throughout the Eastern Free State for many years holding church services for the local community. During the Anglo-Boer war, the town was completely deserted for two years as all its citizens were called up for active duty. Today the town is the breeding centre for Afrikaner cattle and is well known in the Free State for wool production.

*Cultural & Heritage
*Dutch Reformed Church - Declared a national monument, this beautiful old sandstone church displays graves and memorials dating back to the voortrekker era.
*Johanna van der Merwe's Grave - Heralded as a Voortrekker heroin, her grave is at the Dutch Reformed Church.

This pretty little Free State town lies almost halfway between Cape Town and Durban on the popular "Friendly" N6 route. The town was named in honor of the Governor of the Cape Colony, Sir Harry Smith. The foundation stone for the local church was laid in 1848 on the farm Waterval. Smithfield is a tranquil oasis to those choosing to break their journey and enjoy the outstanding hospitality of the local community.

*Cultural & Heritage
*Basotho War Memorial - In memory of those who lost their lives in Basotho Wars, in front of the City Hall.
*Bersheba Farm - A former French Mission station with 18 rooms surrounded by a 1m thick wall. The Swanepoel family acquired the property in 1856. The homestead boasts 18 rooms and passages 3m wide, and is situated 48km NE of the town.
*Birthplace of Christiaan de Wet (1854 - 1922) - on the farm Leeukop. The house has been declared a national monument.
*Caledon River Museum - Displays in memory of Christiaan de Wet 1854 - 1922 and also depicts an 18th century kitchen. The museum is also home to Ou Grietjie, a muzzle- loading ships cannon named after Margeret "Grietjie" Findlay, wife of gunner Robert Findlay.
*Carmel Missionary Station - Old French mission station - 43km SW of Smithfield.
*Old School Building - The first school in the Orange Free State was established here in 1848. The school building, erected in 1850, still stands today.
*Karoo house - which is a national monument, is now a guesthouse.

This town, that derived its name from a strong artesian well on the farm Springfontein, used to be a very important railway junction between Gauteng and the Eastern Cape. After the regulations regarding rail and truck transport changed, the passed of trains through the town decreased drastically. This brought about an abrupt stop in its growth. Presently mixed farming and outdoor life are central to the lives of the people of Springfontein.

*Cultural & Heritage
The history of Springfontein relates directly to the hardships of the Anglo-Boer War and the struggle for national liberation. Many historical sites can be found in and around the town.
*AngloBoer War Block Houses - The remains of a number of Block Houses dating back to the war are found along the railway line.
*Historical Anglican Church - with stained glass windows.
*Tourist attractions and historical places
- Concentration Camp
- Concentration Camp Graveyard
- Concentration Camp washing stone
- San rock engravings
- Sefuralo Memorial Clinic and Grave - Sefularo died during the national liberation struggle.

When the railway from the south reached this area in 1891, a town was laid out on the farm of Mr. Jan Tromp. During those years the town was used as a centre for state officials. At present, Trompsburg, with a diversity that would surprise many tourists, is amongst many other things the home of the largest shearing barn in South Africa and many styles of arts and crafts are exhibited here. To top it all, Trompsburg is also the head-office of the Xhariep District Municipality, as well as the head office of Kopanong Local Municipality.

-The second largest shearing barn in South Africa
-A one km long stone wall.
-Langseekoegat Fishery - The largest privately owned fishery in South Africa.

The high mountains of the Eastern Free State form a sharp contrast with the plains in the rest of the province. The well-preserved examples of San rock-art found in these mountainous areas are a clear indication that not only the modern cultures stand frozen to its beauty. The river once was the haven of the nomadic San. The arrival of the Basotho's, and later the Voortrekkers, led to endless quarrels over land ownership. This could, however, not stop Jan de Winnaar's enthusiasm to establish the farm Verliesfontein. The town that eventually developed was named after De Winnaar's wife, Johanna Zastron. At present, the town has a vibrant, dynamic community, with a diversity of cultures that will do anything for the prosperity of their town.

*Cultural & Heritage
*Anglo-Boer War Monument - In front of the Dutch Reformed Church Catholic Church - A 19th century mission building.
*Hippopotamus Cave - Features many drawings of San rock art dominated by hippopotamus.
*Numerous San cooking implements - and other relics can be seen.
*Palaver Hut Museum - A west-african trible art collection.
*Renier de Winnaar's Grave - In Chase Street, town founder.
*Vechtkop - A peak 2072 meters high, where a historic battle was fought.

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