The year 1854 saw the construction of a Dutch Reformed Church and the beginnings of a town that would later be made famous by the discovery of the Eureka diamond. The name Hopetown is attributed to a story about the widow of the first owner of the farm, De Kalk, and the servant who asked her about the piece of jewellery, in the form of a small anchor, that she always wore. To her the anchor represented hope, and her answer motivated the servant to make a tin imitation of the anchor and nail it to the entrance to the farmhouse. The first recorded diamond found in South Africa, the Eureka, was found near Hopetown in 1866.
Two years later the 83,5 carat Star of South Africa was found on the farm Zandfontein and the subsequent diamond rush brought thousands of people to the area. Today, the people around Hopetown are engaged in agricultural pursuits.
Archaeology and Palaeontology
San Rock Art: Some good examples of San rock art can be seen on the farms Houtville and Gelukspoort.
History and Architecture
Blockhouse: The blockhouse at Orange River Station dates back to the Anglo-Boer War. The British built these all over the countryside to protect the railway lines against Boer attacks.
Concentration Camp Cemetery: Also at Orange River Station, this is the last resting place of a number of Boer women and children who died under horrible conditions in the Anglo-Boer War concentration camps. The Garden of Remembrance was planted in honour of the casualties of that war.
Convict Stone: The old magistrate’s building in the town did not have a holding cell where they could keep convicts. The next logical choice was a large heavy stone to which the convicts could be chained – hence the Convict Stone.
Mark of “Star of South Africa”: When people would not believe that “The Star of South Africa” was really a diamond, a cut was made on one of the windows of the building at 33 Church Street to prove its authenticity.
Rural Monument: The monument commemorates the Great Trek of 1838, when thousands of Boers left the Cape Colony in protest against British rule and formed independent Boer Republics north of the Orange River.
Wagon Bridge and Toll House: This bridge over the Orange River (now rebuilt) was blown up by British troops when they mistakenly thought that a Boer commando was heading towards them.