The Tlou-tle, a San tribe, were the first people to inhabit this lake district where they lived on rafts on the larger lakes. The village itself dates back to 1870 when a Scotsman, Alexander McCorkindale bought 200 farms in this area where he hoped to resettle a number of true Scots. He named the biggest lake in the area Lake Chrissie after the daughter of the President of the old Transvaal Republic. The town received the same name and it became an important stopover to and from Barberton in the 1880s. Chrissiesmeer (Lake Chrissie) has retained its unspoilt charm and remains one of the most important ecotourist destinations in South Africa. The town boasts South Africa’s largest freshwater lake, within walking distance of the town. Locals call the town and surroundings KwaChibukhulu” (“The Big Water”).
Adventure And Sport
Hiking: Enjoy one of the many hikes through the lake districts. The Blesbok Educational Hiking Trail is led by professional foresters and the Brook Hiking Trail is a 2-day circular route with accommodation in an old forester’s house.
Mountain-biking: There are various mountain-biking trails in the area and some hotels and guest houses have bikes for hire.
Trout-fishing: there are excellent opportunities for trout-fishing at various venues in the area.
Water-sport: Boating, sailing and rowing are favourite pastimes in the area.
Archaeology And Palaeontology
San Rock Art: There are many examples of rock art, evidence of the earlier presence of the San people, in the area.
Art And Crafts
Bank Gallery: The Bank Art Gallery houses a fascinating selection of local art.
Entertainment And Shopping
Home Industries: There are several home industry shops in town that manufacture a variety of goods. One of the bigger ones is a wool, duvet and pillow factory where visitors can see how these articles are made.
Sappi Lothair Centre: The Sappi Lothair Centre makes its picnic sites, dams and day walks available to visitors under certain conditions. Prior arrangements are essential.
Fauna And Flora
Birds: Some 82 species of waterbirds and 170 species of other birds live in the Chrissiesmeer area. Approximately 20 000 flamingos have also made the lake area their home.
Frogs: The abundance of water and grass in this area makes it the perfect habitat for frogs. Sign up for a frogging expedition and help look for the new species of frog, jokingly referred to as the “mamparra padda” (“the stupid frog”).
Oak trees: The two oak trees outside Simmer and Jack’s Trading Store were planted in 1886.
Scenic route: Take the gravel Road D624 from Chrissiesmeer to Badplaas through the scenic wetland and lakes area and continue on to Barberton or return via Carolina.
Battle of Chrissiesmeer: The Anglo-Boer War Cemetery contains both British and Boer graves, a stark reminder of the fierce battle that was fought here during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899 to 1902. Legend has it that one of the graves is linked to the romantic tale of a devoted English girl who lost her fiance during the Battle of Chrissiesmeer.
Historic buildings: Take a leisurely stroll through the town to admire its 130-year-old sandstone buildings.
Toymaker: A visit to the “Toymaker” to view the beautiful doll’s houses for girls and castles (complete with weapons) for boys, is a must for old and young.
Lake Chrissie: Lake Chrissie is but one of the 270 lakes in this area. However, it is the biggest and when the rains have been good, grows into an expanse of water 9km long and 3km wide.