Greytown was established in the 1850s and followed the grid layout pattern first employed in the establishment of Pietermaritzburg. This circumstance led to it being called “Umgungundhlovana” (Place of the Little Elephant) by the local Zulu population, in reference to the Zulu nickname for Pietermaritzburg, “Umgungundhlovu” (Place of the Elephant). The town is named for Sir George Grey, Governor of the Cape Colony from 1854 to 1861. The town is part of the Battlefields Route and is surrounded by hills covered in sugar cane and timber plantations.
Adventure And Sport
Angling, water sport: Lake Merthley is an ideal picnicking and camping spot and also has water sport and angling facilities.
Hiking: Various hiking trails have been mapped out in the area. These include the Blinkwater, Montello and Kelly Hill Trails. Several hiking trails traverse Bambatha’s Kraal. The ranch is named after a minor Zulu chief, Bambatha, who once lived nearby. He headed the ill-fated Bambatha Revolt in 1906.
Silo Hiking and Biking Trail: The Silo Trail provides perfect opportunities for mountain-biking and hiking.
Trout-fishing, birding: Montello Safari Lodge is the ideal venue for trout-fishing and bird watching.
Art And Crafts
Window on Umvoti: The “Window on Umvoti” is a trade, craft and cultural show, held regularly. Many visitors attend the show to shop amidst the lovely surroundings.
KwaNyanga Yezizwe: Purveyors of traditional African potions and herbal medicine sell their wares at KwaNyanga Yezizwe in Bell Street.
Fauna And Flora
Ingelosi Hideaway: Although this is a relatively small reserve, the reed swamp and open water are an important sanctuary for wildfowl.
Inhlamvunkulu Game Ranch: Inhlamvunkulu Game Ranch is home to many different species of game and birds.
Kamaggoy Bush Camp: Spend a few days at the Kamaggoy Bush Camp to discover the thrill of nature and its challenges.
Khobotho Ranch: Khobotho Ranch has several hiking trails and offers excellent opportunities for game-viewing.
Mhlopeni Nature Reserve: The Mhlopeni Nature Reserve consists of 1 325-ha of river valley bushveld and is home to several species of birds and game. There are a number of wilderness trails to choose from and the reserve also caters for hunters.
Mini Animal Farm: The Mini Animal Farm combines fun with learning. Children learn all about different types of farm animals and may participate in pony rides and animal feeds.
Umvoti Vlei Nature Reserve: Umvoti Vlei Nature Reserve houses the abundant bird life of the Umvoti marshland.
History And Architecture
Bambatha Rock: In 1906, the local Zulu population, led by their chief, Bambatha, rebelled against the poll-tax laws and the ill treatment of Zulus in general. The local white population sheltered in the town hall and the British government dispatched some 170 armed policemen to quell the revolt. Bambatha and his warriors ambushed them and killed four policemen at the rock some 21 km from Greytown on the Keates Drift Road. Bambatha fled into Zululand and was killed after a two-month pursuit.
Bambatha Police Memorial: The memorial to honour the four policemen who died in 1906 during the Bambatha Rebellion, can be found some 13 km along the Keates Drift/Dundee Road.
Dutch Reformed Church Bell: A bell was brought to the town in 1861 to hang in the Dutch Reformed Church to summon both the Dutch Reformed and English (Anglican) congregations to church. Unfortunately, when the bell was rung by one congregation during the other congregation’s services, it caused much ill feeling between the communities. To resolve the
issue a group of townsmen stole the bell and buried it. It was only found some 74 years later and now hangs in the archway of the Dutch Reformed Church. The first Dutch Reformed Church dating from 1856 was destroyed by a tornado and the new church was officially opened by Sir Henry Bulwer, the then Lieutenan- Governor of Natal, in 1883.
Grave of Sarie Marais and Aya Jana: Sarie Mare (note spelling), a Voortrekker woman who married at the age of 17 and died at the age of 35 whilst giving birth to her eleventh child, has been immortalised in an Afrikaans folk song (My Sarie Marais). The grave in which she and Aya Jana, an orphan with an interesting life, are buried, is off the D479 on the (Stanger) Road. Aya Jana lived till the ripe old age of 93 after, as a child, she escaped the massacre at Bloukrans when the Voortrekkers and Matabeles did battle. The child Jana survived by faking death while being prodded by assegais. She was nursed back to health by the Mare family and adopted by Sarie Mare’s uncle and aunt.
Greytown Museum: The museum lies on the Battlefields Route and is housed in the old Magistrate’s residence and former home of General Louis Botha’s sister. The Greytown Museum charts the history of the town in great detail. The exhibits include memorabilia of the Umvoti Mounted Rifles involved in the Bambatha Rebellion, the Anglo-Boer War, the Zulu Wars as well as the two World Wars and the Liberation Struggle. It also has a Hindu and Muslim room, a Zulu culture room and various rooms kept in Victorian style. The outside exhibits cover a wide variety of objects and include sundials, old farming equipment, artillery and horse-drawn vehicles. Each artefact tells a story, for example the 1750 cannon brought to Greytown in 1852 by an 18-year-old orphaned girl accompanied by ten shipwrecked Zulus. The museum garden is planted with several indigenous trees, such as the large wild fig tree that was planted in 1880 and the 10 other species planted on the south side of the museum.
Hermannsburg Museum: The Lutheran Hermannsburg Mission House Museum dates back to 1854. The mission was built first and the church added at a later date. Items such as woodcraft and pottery made by local crafters are sold at the museum. The museum is in the grounds of the Hermannsburg School.
Historic Forts: The remnants of several forts can be found in the Greytown area. Only the foundations of Fort Mispah, erected in 1897 and overlooking the Umvoti Vlei, remain today. Other forts erected in 1897 and reused during the Bambatha Rebellion include Fort Cherry, Fort Buckingham, Fort Cross, Fort Montgomery, Fort Ahrens (off Road D110 on Kranskop Road) and Fort Liddle.
Leuchars Memorial Hall: The hall was built from stone from the original Court House. Sir George Leuchars, Minister of Agriculture under Prime Minister Louis Botha in the first Union of South Africa Parliament in 1910, paid for the building of the hall.
Louis Botha’s Birthplace: Balmoral Farmhouse, 5 km south of Greytown on the Farm Heuningfontein is a national monument. It is the birthplace of Louis Botha, Boer hero, statesman and first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa, who held office from 1910 to 1919. Botha’s mother had Louis, the 8th of her 13 children here because the Heine Spruit was in flood and she could not get to her own home. Louis attended the Hermannsburg Mission School and his family left the district when he was 12. Balmoral House is on private land, but visitors are welcome.
Methodist Church: The Methodist Church was built in 1877 in the Gothic style and is the oldest church in town.
Mosque: Five times a day, the call of the Muezzin goes out from the mosque to the people to call them to prayer. The walls of the Mosque in Bell Street are decorated with koranic verses. The original building, built in 1848, consisted of wood and iron, but the present building dates from 1946 and can accommodate up to 200 worshippers.
Shri Vishnu Mandir Temple: The lotus emblem on the walls of the temple in Cathcart Street is not just for decoration, it has an important symbolic meaning. The Hindu use the image of the lotus flower floating on water to explain that though one should live on the material plain, one should not be drowned by it. The original temple was built in 1933 and was replaced by the present one in 1977.
St. James’ Anglican Church: St James’ Anglican Church was built in 1911 of local stone to replace the original building dating from 1867. The archway of the front porch and the beautiful stained glass windows, imported from England, were part of the original building. The church was built of local stone and the nave columns were also imported from England. Various plaques and designs commemorate sad events of the region, such as the Anglo-Zulu War, the Anglo-Boer War, the Bambatha Rebellion and both World Wars. The church was designed by Street Wilson and the sculpture behind the altar was done by Mary Stainbank, a famous South African sculptor.
St. Theodore’s Catholic Church: St. Theodore’s Roman Catholic Church was built in 1915 on land donated by Major Theodore Menne.
Town Hall: The original design of the Town Hall was done by Stott and Tomlinson and the foundation stone was laid in 1897. Due to the advent of the Anglo-Boer War, funds dried up and the hall was only completed and officially opened in 1904 after Street Wilson had redesigned it. It was in this building that the white population took shelter when Bambatha and his warriors rose in rebellion in 1906. It is now a national monument.
Umvoti Mounted Rifles Hall: The Umvoti Mounted Rifles Hall, next to the Theodore Menne Library l was built as a Masonic lodge in 1880. It is the oldest hall in town and used to be the headquarters of the famous Umvoti Mounted Rifles. Today, it is used by the Department of public works
Optical illusion: Some 21 km along the Weenen/Musden Road is the place where it appears that a stationary car is actually moving up the hill.
Shu Shu Hot Springs: The Shu Shu Hot Springs in the Tugela (Thukela) Valley are overlooked by Kranskop. Many visitors who believe in the therapeutic qualities of the waters frequent the springs. Camping is also allowed during the month of July.
The Kop: The Kop (Hill) is some 45 km from Greytown on the (Stanger) road. Those who make it to the top of the hill can enjoy views of the Tugela River following its path some 700 m below. The surrounding countryside is alive with birds, such as black eagles, lanner falcons, rock pigeons, redwinged starlings and swallows. A Zulu legend tells of the time when Shaka’s son and his bride sang a secret song and the hill opened up to hide them from a cannibal tribe