This town was established in 1883 and in 1885 it was named for the renowned Boer leader,Piet Retief, who, with many of his followers had been murdered by the Zulus. Like so many other Transvaal towns it was virtually destroyed during the Anglo-Boer War and rebuilt after the war. The indigenous local inhabitants dubbed the town “eThandakukhanya” (“We Want Light”). Today, this pretty town, surrounded by pine and gum trees, is home to one of South Africa’s most important timber industries. Mica and kaolin are mined nearby.
Adventure And Sport
Angling: Dams in the region are well-stocked with fish such as yellowtail and Natal yellowfin. The Heyshope Dam is famed for its favourable conditions for black bass-angling.
Biking: The mountainous terrain surrounding Piet Retief offers a number of biking trails.
Golf: The town boasts an inviting nine-hole golf course.
Hiking: There is a choice of hiking trails in the area. The Assegai Trail will take you through beautiful mountain scenery with prodigious bird life and the Phongolo Highlands Hiking Trail System offers hikes lasting one to five days. The system includes the Ngcaka and Mpisi Hiking Routes.
Horseriding: Enjoy the magnificent scenery of the region on horseback.
Archaeology And Palaeontology
San Rock Art: Several San rock paintings can be viewed in the caves of the area.
Entertainment And Shopping
Candles: Rohr’s Country Guest House has a charming display of locally made candles. Browse and buy.
Fauna And Flora
Oribi Conservancy: The conservancy is the only reserve in the country that was established specifically to protect the oribi antelope and other species of grassland animals and birds.
Piet Retief Game and Bird Sanctuary: See the local fauna and flora at the Piet Retief Game and Bird Sanctuary.
History And Architecture
Dutch Reformed Church: The lovely church with its Cape Dutch gables and pretty tower was designed by the well-known architect Gerhard Moerdijk.
Library and Information Centre: Visit to the town’s informative library and Information Centre for an overview of the history of the town.
Sandstone Bridge: The Paul Kruger Bridge, built by the celebrated architect Sytze Wierde, can be seen on the line between Piet Retief and Ermelo. The bridge, built in 1897, is the longest arched sandstone bridge in the region and has been proclaimed a national monument.
War Memorials: There are several war memorials in town, including the Zulu War Memorial, the Heinrich Filter and Nils Larsen Monument and the graves of British soldiers who died here.
Mondi Forest Pulp and Paper Plant: Visit this interesting plant and join one of its informative, educational tours.