In 1849 Aliwal North was established as an administrative centre for the recently annexed territory north of the Stormberg Mountains. It was named for the town of Aliwal in India, the scene of a great victory over the Sikhs two years earlier by Sir Harry Smith, the Governor of the Cape Colony. The town was built around a strategic fort used by both the San and the “Boers”. It was later upgraded and today serves as a service and educational centre for a 2 000 square kilometre wool-, maize- and wheat-production area. The town is famous for its hot springs and is a popular inland holiday resort.
Adventure And Sport
Canoeing, fishing, hiking, mountaineering and river-rafting: There are several opportunities for these activities in the area.
Archaeology And Palaeontology
San Rock Art at Kalkoenkrans: This site in the Aliwal North/Jamestown region has been declared a national monument because of the level, variety and standard of the artwork displayed. The famous “White Lady of Kalkoenkrans”, discovered in 1967, is part of this fresco of rock art.
San Rock Art at Sterkstroom: The rock art site on the farm, Sterkstroom, north of the town, is well protected and is noted for its vivid colours.
San Rock Art at Thaba Nkulu: There are various rock art sites here with a wide variety of paintings depicting the usual variety of people and animals. An unusual feature found here are the depictions of what is believed to be the San people’s rain god.
Entertainment And Shopping
Aliwal Spa Holiday Resort: The resort was established around a series of mineral springs that produce water at temperatures of around 34 degrees Celsius. People come from all over the world to soak away their aches and pains in the healing “triple” waters – water with an equal concentration of chlorides, sulphates and carbohydrates. The resort offers a variety of indoor and outdoor pools, comfortable accommodation, a conference centre and various outdoor activities.
The “Islands”: An extension of the spa, The Islands is situated in a lakeside environment that offers visitors a wide variety of water sport and other recreational activities.
Fauna And Flora
Buffelspruit Nature Reserve: Hundreds of antelopes and buffaloes, roam the 1 300-ha Buffelspruit Nature Reserve, on the banks of the Kraai River. The reserve keeps many of the antelope as breeding stock. Many species of waterfowl and other birds have found a home here.
History And Archtecture
The Aliwal North Museum Complex: The complex comprises two buildings: the old Dutch Reformed Church dating back to 1864 and the Library Building in Smith Street that dates back to 1876. The complex covers the local history of the area with exhibits and collections featuring many different themes. The museum also has a fine collection of flints and stone tools used by the early San inhabitants as well as some bows, arrows and quivers.
British Blockhouse: Three blockhouses built in 1901 during the Anglo-Boer War, stand guard just outside the town.
Concentration Camp Garden and Garden of Remembrance: The garden was designed as a memorial to the women and children who died in the Anglo-Boer War Concentration Camp that was established outside the town, as well as to the soldiers who laid down their lives during the Anglo-Boer War.
De Leon Park: The stately De Leon Park was named after Juana Maria de los Dolores de Leon, the Spanish-born wife of Sir Harry Smith, the Governor of the Cape at the time.
Historic buildings: The Roman Catholic Church and St Paul’s Church offer a glimpse of the architectural style of an earlier time.
Kraai River Bridge: Before the Frere Bridge was built in 1880 a pontoon was used to ferry people across the river. This bridge has since been demolished but its stone buttress can still be seen next to the new Hertzog Bridge.