VIVA UNESCO, VIVA!!! - VISIT STERKFONTEIN AND MAROPENG
It is exciting to look at the striated rocks in our Magaliesburg garden and know that the fossilised remains of some of the earth’s most ancient people were excavated just a few kilometers away as the ibis flies. Those people may well have walked over our hillside in search of food and water! Fortunately UNESCO has seen fit to acknowledge this vast area for the education and benefit of future generations. Nature reserves and lodges abound in the area.
The UNESCO Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site is a conservancy area that includes Kromdraai and Sterkfontein, where many hominid fossils were found and the remains of Mrs Ples provided an important anthropological link. Further important fossil remains were recently discovered at the site of Maropeng Visitor Centre, which is the educational exhibition centre of the Cradle of Humankind (open daily from 9am to 5pm with the last underground boat ride departing at 4pm).
Combination tickets are available for visits to Maropeng Visitors Centre and Sterkfontein Caves. Maropeng's underground boat trip through the forces of creation and life-giving elements of water, ice, earth and fire could frighten small children but they will quickly recover as they hold a telephone call to an extinct animal, have fun with the educational exhibits and look at the numerous fossils. During a visit to Maropeng, even grandparents can learn about humankind and where humanity is heading!
Sterkfontein Caves claims to be ‘one of the richest and most productive paleao-anthropological hominid fossil sites in the world’. Caves are open from 9am -5pm daily. The last guided tour leaves at 4pm.
Boer War landmark at Barton’s Folly
Although not a heritage site, Bartons Folly in Hekpoort is an important historical landmark. It is a British Army Blockhouse that still towers over the route used by British troops en-route to battle with the Boers in Hekpoort and Hartbeespoort areas during 1900 -1902. Educational walks to the blockhouse on top of the kloof can be arranged, starting from Barton’s Folly Manor House Tel: Joy at 082 901 1382.
Historical Blaaubank Gold Mine
Another important Magaliesburg landmark is the Historical Blaaubank Gold Mine overlooking the village. This was the first hand dug gold mine in the Witwatersberg and dates back to 1874, when Magaliesburg was occupied by miners and prospectors. An intriguing 45 minute tour demonstrates old hand-mining methods and allows participants to pan for gold using the historical method. Don’t take tiny kids along and do remember to wear stout shoes in case there are snakes or scorpions in the shaft.