Ladybrand is situated near Lesotho’s north-western border and is one of the towns that has the Basotho War to thank for its existence. It was established in 1867 on land conquered from the Basotho and was named after the mother of President Brand of the Free State. The Ladybrand area is renowned for its many San rock art sites and fossils and the town is well-known for its many well-preserved sandstone buildings, many of which now do duty as guest houses. The town’s lovely surroundings of mountains, ravines and rivers also make it an ideal eco-tourism destination.
Adventure And Sport
Angling and canoeing: The Cathcart Drift Dam, in the vicinity of the Melrose Holiday Farm, offers opportunities for angling and canoeing.
Golf: There is an 18-hole golf course in town.
Hiking: There are three major hiking trails in the area, namely the Fanie Terreblanche hike, the 8-km Melrose Holiday Farm hike and the Steve Visser hike. The latter starts at Leliehoek Holiday Resort and takes you through areas grown with indigenous vegetation and past several historical sites.
Horse riding: The area is ideal for horse riding and there are many “bridle” trails to choose from.
Mountain-biking: The Ladybrand area is a well-known mountain -iking venue with many well marked routes and trails. Endurance races are staged in the area at regular intervals.
Two Nations Marathon: The Two Nations Marathon, between Ladybrand and Maseru, is staged here annually.
Archaeology And Palaeontology
Fossilised remains: The fossilised remains of Diathrognatus, a prehistoric animal believed to be the link between reptiles and mammals, were found near the Leliehoek Holiday Resort.
San Rock Art: Several caves in the vicinity of the town house San rock paintings. This district probably has the largest concentration of San rock art in the world. The site at Tripolitana, also known as Tandjesberg, is situated on a farm, 10 km from town. The images cover a 10-m section of wall and have been copied onto seven lecterns at the site so that the images can be explained to visitors. Tripolitana/Tandjesberg became famous when the celebrated French historian Abbe Henri Breuil visited the site during the 1940s. This is one of the few sites where visitors can see how researchers decipher highly complex panels. A boardwalk has been constructed to protect the excavations that are still going on beneath the floor of the cave.
The Modderpoort Mission Station site also has San rock art and Iron Age remains and has been of significance to a succession of South African people. There are a number of images of eland antelope, as well as one depicting two eland butting heads. There is also a depiction of a cattle raid and images of birds with zigzag legs. Zigzag images almost always refer to Shaman trance dancers in altered states of consciousness.
Entertainment And Shopping
Leliehoek Holiday Resort: Leliehoek Holiday Resort is just the place to laze away a day, weekend or even longer. The accommodation is rated top class. Many nature walks and rambles start here.
History And Architecture
Catharina Brand Museum: The Catharina Brand Museum houses records depicting the province’s newspaper and publishing history as well as other items related to the history of the Boer, British and Basotho inhabitants of the area.
Heritage Museum: The Heritage Museum in Kerk Street concentrates on local history and also has exhibits of vintage farming implements. Bread is baked the “old fashioned” way in an outside oven that stands on the premises of the museum.
Modderpoort Mission Station: The gravestones of some of the brothers of the Society of St Augustine, who lived and worked at the station from 1869, can be seen at Modderpoort Mission Station. Another grave of particular and historical interest is that of a Basotho prophetess, Mantsopa Makheta, who was exiled to the mission because the then ruler, Moshweshwe, feared her influence on his people. She predicted the victory of the Basotho over the British and the rich harvest that would then follow. When it happened exactly as she said, her fame and reputation were established. Her grave continues to be revered and people often leave offerings at the graveside and at the spring where she bathed. Her gravestone is covered with clay pots, small heaps of maize and strings of beads from the pilgrims who come from all over the country to pay homage to her. Another interesting feature at Modderpoort Mission is the small rock shelter known as Cave Church or Rose Chapel. This cave shelter, probably first occupied and painted by the San, was used as a place of worship by the Anglican Brothers of St. Augustine before their church and priory were built. From the 1970s onwards members of the Zionist Christian Church used the shelter.
Railway Station Buildings: The original ticket office and waiting rooms of the old Railway Station can be viewed at 37 Beaton Street.
Stables Rock Crevice: The rock crevice in the mountainside near Leliehoek, called the Stables, is well worth a visit. According to local folklore, the Boers used this deep rock fissure as a stable for their horses during the Basotho War of 1858.