Koffiefontein is situated on the Riet River, 140 km south-west of Bloemfontein. The town owes its name to an incident that happened in 1870 when a transport rider dismounted at a spring in the area for a cup of coffee and picked up a diamond on the spot. His discovery led to a diamond rush to the town appropriately known as Koffiefontein (“Coffee Fountain”). After having being closed for more than 30 years the Koffiefontein Mine re-opened in 1970 bringing new-found prosperity to this mainly sheep and mixed farming area. The irrigation dam at Kalkfontein, 22 km from the town, supplies the necessary water for the various farming activities. After having gone through tough times Koffiefontein is today a prosperous town with its own cheese factory and vineyards.
Adventure And Sport
Angling: The Kalkfontein Dam is a popular angling spot where yellow fish and carp are regularly caught. The Mine Dam is stocked with black bass.
Golf: The town has a 9-hole golf course.
Sport: The town has several sporting facilities, such as a swimming pool, cricket pitch, athletics track, netball facilities, bowling green, soccer and rugby fields and tennis courts.
Water sport: Both the Mine and Kalkfontein Dams have facilities for sailing and boating.
Archaeology And Palaeontology
San Rock Art: There are several impressive examples of San rock art in the area.
Art And Crafts
Prisoner-of-war art works: During the Second World War, Italian prisoners of war were interned in prisoner-of-war camps at Koffiefontein. An Italian inmate painted the fascinating murals now displayed at the entrance to the town. The Municipal Caravan Park features other articles made by the Italian prisoners of war.
Fauna And Flora
Birdwatching: The Bird Park, in Engelbrecht Street, is home to various species of exotic and indigenous birds. Approximately seven km out of town, a man-made bird park in the open countryside attracts many water birds.
Diamond Mine Game Farm: Several species of wildlife can be seen in the tranquil surroundings of the Diamond Mine Game Farm.
History And Architecture
Anglo Boer War Forts: Several forts were erected by the British after Boer forces under the command of General Brand and Commandant Hertzog attacked the town and mine. The remains of the first fort built here lies on a hill behind the golf course. The 17 men who guarded this fort left their signatures on the rocks surrounding the fort.
Blue Diamond Tavern: The Blue Diamond Tavern is a historic watering hole.
Coffee Pot Fountain: The Coffee Pot Fountain, built in the shape of a coffee pot, symbolically welcomes visitors by “pouring them coffee”.
Etienne le Roux homestead and grave: The homestead and grave of renowned South African novelist, Etienne le Roux, is located in the district.
Guard House: The guard house that was situated at the entrance to the internment camp has been meticulously restored.
Historic Buildings: Like many other Free State towns, Koffiefontein also boasts a number of interesting old buildings such as the Town Hall, which was erected in 1896, St Mark’s Church, the old Presbyterian Church and the Dutch Reformed Church (all built in the early 1900s), as well as the house in which Mr GSF Rorich, who established the town, lived. Rorich’s barn, erected in 1877, is the oldest building in town and served first as a barn, then as a shop, a church and as the town’s first school.
Library: The library exhibits numerous historical items donated by local inhabitants.
Mining traction engine: A mining traction engine used in 1907 during the early mining days of the town stands at the entrance to the town.
Open-air Museum: The Open-air Museum is situated at the entrance to the town.
Town Monument: A monument, situated on a small hillock behind the school was erected with funds from local inhabitants to honour local men and women who died during the First World War. The cannon next to the monument dates back to the same period.
Koffiefontein De Beers Mine: This mine, the pride and joy of the town, is considered to be one of the most technologically advanced low-grade underground diamond mines in the country. The Lookout Post at the mine affords an excellent view over the open mine and its “Big Hole”.