In 1884, the Struben brothers, Fred and Harry, found some gold on the farm Wilgespruit (“Willow Creek”) and were granted the right to mine the area. Unfortunately, the mine did not yield much gold but after George Harrison found the rich gold seam at Langlaagte, many other diggers joined the Struben brothers and several other mines were established in the area. Predictably, a typical mining town started developing close by and in 1904 it received municipal status. In 1977, after Hamberg, Florida and Maraisburg were incorporated within its boundaries, Roodepoort became a fully-fledged city. Florida is built around Florida Lake, a popular recreation area.
Adventure And Sport
Angling and Water Sport: Canoeists and anglers frequent Florida Lake while sailboats lend some extra colour to the surroundings.
Angling and Water Sports: Angling, rowing, sailing and canoeing are done at the Bennie Reynecke Dam next to Lyon Street, the Princess Dam, the Len Rutter Dam in Aandblom Street (angling only) and the Hennie Hugo Dam.
Hiking: There are various hiking trails in the area, such as the 3-km Helderkruin Nature Trail.
Art And Crafts
International Eisteddfod of South Africa: Roodepoort hosts the biennial International Eisteddfod of South Africa, an exciting competition and festival that caters for amateur, classical and traditional musicians and dancers. The show offers a cosmopolitan blend of African, American, Asian and European performing arts and cultures.
Entertainment And Shopping
Florida Lake: Originally a marsh, Florida Lake was developed into an attractive lake by pumping water from the mines into the area. Today, it has a play park, swimming pool and rides on a miniature train during the weekends. Boating and angling facilities are also available, as well as barbecue facilities and campsites. Regattas, triathlons and rowing competitions are often held at the Lake. The Hamerkop Bird Sanctuary is part of the lake area.
Westgate Shopping Centre: One of the four “Gate” shopping centres in Gauteng, Westgate Shopping Centre, like the others, caters for shoppers’ every imaginable want and need.
Fauna And Flora
Kloofendal Nature Reserve: The Kloofendal Nature Reserve not only protects Confidence Reef, but also houses a unique amphitheatre. The theatre has a covered stage and can seat more than 10 000 people on grass terraces amid the lovely natural surroundings of the reserve. Events are hosted here regularly.
Ruimsig Entomological Reserve: Another feather in Roodepoort’s cap is the Ruimsig Entomological Reserve, home of the rare Roodepoort Copper Butterfly or Aloeides dentatis. The reserve in Ruimsig is the first ever to be established within a residential area.
Witwatersrand Botanical Gardens: Witwatersrand Botanical Gardens are surrounded by sheer cliffs and contain the “Witpoortjie” Waterfall. Dense riverside woodland makes the gardens an attractive home for birds. The most famous inhabitant of the gardens is the black crested eagle. Four years ago, the black eagle breeding programme experienced a crisis when the male black eagle disappeared. Fortunately, the self-reliant female found a young male herself.
The black eagles have two nests on the grounds and alternate each year. One is towards the top of the Witpoortjie Waterfall. Black eagles mate for life and hatch only two eggs a year. Only one of the chicks will survive the “Cain and Abel” struggle that dictates that one chick shall kill the other. Only some 30 per cent survive the next year of their development when their plumage changes to golden brown.
The eagle only develops its dark plumage and finds a mate to establish its own territory at the age of around 4-5 years. The oldest part of the Gardens, the Rose Garden, contains a lovely collection of 4,500 roses and their hybrids from all over the world. Another interesting feature is the section with culinary as well as indigenous medicinal and exotic herbs. Open-air music concerts are held in the Gardens between May and August on alternate Sundays. The artists vary but most focus on light classical and modern music. What better way to relax than by sitting on a picnic blanket and enjoying the sights and sounds? Other regular events include a Spring plant fair, Clivia display and Stargazing in September, a Teddy bear picnic in October and a “Carols by Candlelight” event in December. Cafe Clivia is also on the grounds for those who would like to sit back and relax with a refreshing beverage. The Random Harvest Indigenous Nursery sells a variety of plants and the curio shop is also open to the public. The Gardens are wheelchair-friendly.
History And Architecture
Delarey House: The house is typical of the wood and iron structures that were erected during the early twentieth century.
Jameson Homestead National Monument: On the farm Vlakfontein, 6 km south of Roodepoort, lie the remains of the homestead and house in which Dr Leander Starr Jameson and his “raiders” took refuge after the abortive “Jameson Raid” in 1895. President Paul Kruger’s Transvaal Boers apprehended Jameson and his men here after their plan to bring down the republican government had failed. The raid brought down Cecil John Rhodes’ government in the Cape Colony when it was revealed that he had supported the raid. A memorial to the men of Roodepoort who died in the engagement has been erected at the spot and the house and homestead have been declared a national monument.
Kloofendal Nature Reserve: Kloofendal Nature Reserve encompasses the unpredictable gold reef (Confidence Reef) that first provided the reason for creating the town. Book a tour at the Museum.
Old Prison: The Old Prison in Seventh Avenue is a national monument and includes the house of the prison official.
Roodepoort Museum: The museum supplies a historical overview of the development of the area since the discovery of gold. The geological history of the Witwatersrand basin, going back some 2,5 billion years, is also depicted. Other interesting exhibits include the depiction of everyday life on a farm during bygone years, as well as an exhibition of decorations used in the houses of the town from the Victorian period up to the 1930s. The art gallery has a collection of international decorative art, as well as local art, including a Jackson Hlungwane sculpture and Walter Battiss and Maggie Laubscher paintings.