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  THE FREE STATE'S LEJWELEPUTSWA DISTRICT  

LEJWELEPUTSWA ROUTE

Formerly known as Goldfields, Lejweleputswa is the treasure chest of the Free State, and some of the richest gold deposits in the world are to be found here.

The mines, including St Helena where gold was first discovered, are the main source of wealth to the province Welkom, the principal town, was designed before any building started and brings residential, industrial and mining areas into accord with one another. Underground mine tours and the gold museums are very popular attractions and well worth a visits. Extensive plains and rich soil make farming the other important occupation of the region and field of sunflowers are a familiar sight and enhance the concept of gold. Bothaville plays host to the Nampo harvest farm and festival, the world’s second largest agricultural show.
Encompassing Allemanskraal dam on the Sand River, Willem Pretorius Nature Reserve and Resort, is home to two of the big five, rhino and buffalo who roam freely throughout the reserve.
On the northern side, hills, covered in huge stinkwood, karee trees and thick vegetation are inhabited by baboons, kudu, mountain reedbuck and duiker. Herds of antelope, black wildebeest, red hartebeest and zebras thrive on the southern shore, grazing on the open grasslands. Game viewing and bird watching, angling, windsurfing, water skiing and paragliding are popular pursuits with sundowner cruises on the dam high on the list of favorites.

Cities/Towns: Allanridge, Boshof, Bothaville, Brandfort, Bultfontein, Dealsville, Henneman, Hertzogville, Hoopstad, Odendaalsrus, Theunissen, Ventersburg, Virginia, Welkom, Wesselbron, Winburg.

ALLANRIDGE:
Situated next to the R30 between Bothaville and Odendaalsrus, Allanridge was named after Allan Roberts, a dental technician and sometime geologist. With its encircling maize fields and rich deposits of gold Allanridge truly lives up to its reputation as one of the “golden” towns in the Free State.

*Cultural Heritage:
* Allan Roberts Memorial – Allan sunk the first borehole in the Free State on the farm Aandenk in 1933 in search for gold. Through a lack of funds Roberts was forced to abandon the hole only 122m away from one of the richest gold bearing reef in the world.

BOSHOF:
Boshof was founded in 1856 and is situated between Bloemfontein and Kimberley. Mixed farming is practiced in the pleasant surroundings of Boshof. The town acts as the administrative centre of the Goldfields. The town was the scene of some fierce fighting in 1900’s during the South African War.

*Cultural Heritage:

*Chris van Niekerk Museum – history of South African fold dancing is depicted in this museum. A writers museum forms part of the exhibit.

BOTHAVILLE:
Bothaville was establishmed in 1891 by the Voortrekker JP van Wyk on the farm Gladdedrift. The town built on sandy soil of the Vals River banks. Maize Capital of SA – one of the wealthiest agricultural districts, hosts NAMPO (± 30 000 global visitors) – Maize, Agricultural, Food and Witblits Festival.

*Cultural Heritage:

*Doornkraal Memorial – Granite monument in memory of the Boers who died in a surprise attack by British soldiers in November 1900.

BRANDFORT:
Established in 1865 and named after the President of the Orange Free State, Jan Brand. Brandfort is the resting place of Vincent Van Gogh’s brother, Cornelis.

*Cultural Heritage:
*Dwyersdorp Concentration Camp – Memorial to Capt Dwyer, who showed compassion for women and children interred here during the Anglo-Boer War, Garden of Remembrance: The cemetery of a concentration camp where 1 550 women and children died in the Anglo-Boer War.
*Vice-Admiral John Westons House - he designed and built the first aircraft in Africa on the farm Kalkdam neart Bultfontein between 1907 -1910.
*Birthplace of Winnie Mandela - former wife of Nelson Mandela was born in Brandfort: Winnie was placed under house arrest in 1970; detained under the Internal Security Act in 1976, and banished to Brandfort in 1977.

BULTFONTEIN:
Established in 1873 on the farm Kameeldoorns, near Brandfort. Home to numerous game farms, offering trophy hunting. The town also boasts the large grain elevator in S.A.
*Eco & Nature:
*AC van Wyk Game Park – A rugget game park near the town. Many game species can be see.
* Protea Pan – Located 13km from town, the salt pan is home to a large flamingo population.
*First Gaol Cells – the walls of a cell used more than a century ago. Can be seen in Van der Poel Street.

DEALESVILLE (INCL. SOUTPAN):
A farming area surrounded by salt pans on the farm Klipfontein. The area boasts many natural springs in the vicinity. The skull of 250 000 year olf “Florisbad Man Homo Helmei” was discovered in 1930. Visits only on request. Implements on display in the Bloemfontein National Museum. Tel: 051-447 9609

*Culture & Heritage:
* Florisbad & Baden Baden Springs Excavation Sites – the skull of 250 000 year old “Florisbad Man homo helmei” was discovered in 1930.
* Soetdoring Nature Reserve – a scenic nature reserve located on the shores of the Krugersdrift Dam.

HENNEMAN:
The town was renamed in 1927 after PF Hennenman. An important railway siding known as Venterburg Road, serving Venterburg 18km away.

*Art, Arts & Crafts:
*Golden Arts & Craft Ramble - takes you on a tour of studios where artists exhibit their work and share their secrets.

HERTZOGVILLE:
Named after General JBM Hertzog, founder of National Party 1914

HOOPSTAD:
Known for its excellent game farms & Afrikaner cattle – near Bloemhof dam, part of the Sandveld Game reserve.

*Culture & Heritage:
* Dutch Reformed Church – Sandstone architecture – located at the town centre - with an imported pneumatic organ.
*Kruithuis – powder magazine dating from the 19th century.
* Tractor Museum - on the farm Oranjekuil.


ODENDAALSRUS:
When it was founded in 1905, Odendaalsrus was a tiny town until the discovery and exploitation of the richest gold reef in the world discovered on 16 April 1946, on the farm Geduld only 4km from town.

THEUNISEN:
Theunissen is some 100km north of Bloemfontein on the line of rail between Johannesburg and Cape Town. The town was established in 1907 and named after Commander Helgaardt Theunissen. Today Theunissen is the centre of a prosperous mixed farming area.

*Eco & Nature:
*Erfenis Dam - located on the Vet River, popular fishing and boating venue, Adjacent game reserve – variety of animal species
* Tweefontein Nature Reserve – 1st Cheetah breeding and research project in the Free State.

VENTERSBURG:
Situated on the national raod (N1) between Winburg and Kroonstad,. Established 1872 and part of the productive Free State Maize Route. It was just south of the town that the Sand River Convention, which created the independent Republic of the Transvaal, was signed in 1962.

*Cultural & Heritage:

*Old Police Museum – used as a Police station (1902 – 1910) . Sand River memorial – 1852 Sand River Convention, giving independence to the Transvaal Republic, was signed here.
*Allemanskraal Dam – a scenic dam servicing the Willem Pretoruis Game Reserve and surrounding areas. Birdwatching, fishing and water sports.
*Basotho War Rampart Skanskraal – a stone rampart build during the Basotho Wars as a defence attacks by the Basotho. A small memorial, commemorating the builders, is found nearby
* Historical Battle sites – the area saw several battles during the Anglo-Boer War.
*Prehistoric Stone Huts – located in the Willem Prinsloo nature Reserve.

VIRGINIA:
Virginia was established in 1954 and about a decade after the discovery of the giant Free State goldfields. The Sand River flows through the town boasting waterskiing, fishing, boating and swimming.

WELKOM:
Welkom was established on the farm Welkom in 1946 after gold was established here. It is the main centre for the Lejweleputswa District Municipality. A feature of this town is the smooth traffic flow along its wide, tree-lined streets, which have colorful flower gardens in the central islands.

*Culture & Heritage:
*Welkom Museum - located at the Public Library. Exhibits depict the history of Welkom. Display’s on the bird and animal life of this region.
* Gold Museum – about the history of gold mining can be viewed at the Public Library.
* Monuments – most Welkom’s monuments can be found in Van Riebeeck Park. Monuments: Afrikaans Language Monument, Dog Monument, Joanne Pim Monument, Second World War Monument.
* Welkom Publicity Clock Tower – Come and climb the 196 steps to view the spectacular view from above.
* Flamingo Pan – Beautiful recreation areas is the home of thousands of flamingoes.


WESSELSBRON:
This small maize farming town was named after Commandant Cornelius Wessels.

*Culture & Heritage:
* Oldest Church - a creation of Gerhard Moerdyk
*Grain Silos – Biggest in the Southern hemisphere 275 000 tons of grain stored – Guided tours.
* Omnia – between 17 000 & 20 000 tons of liquid fertilizer is distributed to the rich cultivated field of the western Free State.
*Pans – this region known as Panneveld – water-bearing in rainy season – flamingoes. Bossievlaktes habitat of very rare reptile species “Ouvolk”
*Potato Farm – export product of district – potato season visitors van watch the harvest, sorting and packing.
*Zesto Peanut Factory - 32 tons of peanuts sorted and processed daily for local and export market. Visitors welcome.

WINBURG:
The “Town of Victory” commemorates not a military but triumph in an argument where the town should be sited. This was 1841, six years after Voortrekker leader Andries Pretoruis acquired the rights to the land between the Vet and Vaal Rivers which he bought from the Bataung tribe for 42 head of cattle. It is the second oldest town in the Free State.

*Cultural & Heritage:
*Fords Hotel - whose dining hall was used by Voortrekker’s during their visit in Winburg.
* Garden of Remembrance – in memory of the Voortrekker’s from the Great Trek.
*MT Steyn – homestead of MT Steyn, former President of the Free State Republic 1895.
* Stone Huts – prehistorically huts offering a glimpse into the early history of the region.
*Voortrekker Cemetery – located south of town, oldest Voortrekker cemetery in the country.
*Voortrekker Monument – originally selected as the site for the building of a Voortrekker Monument, eventually erected in Pretoria.



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