After the defeat of Mzilikazi’s Ndebele tribe in the mid-1800s, a group of Voortrekkers (Cape Dutch Pioneers) settled in the area. Soon crops were planted and livestock was grazing in the fertile fields. At last, the people who had trekked around for so long had found a peaceful area that they could call their own, a place of rest – hence the name ‘ Rustenburg’ (“Place of Rest”). Situated at the foot of the Magaliesberg, 112 km northwest of Johannesburg, Rustenburg is the third oldest town of the old Transvaal Province. Its position on the edge of the Bushveld Igneous Complex has caused the region to be one of the most heavily mined areas in the world.
Adventure And Sport
Elandsoord Dam: Relax and enjoy the sun and water at the Elandsoord Dam.
The Baviaanskrans and Summit Hiking Routes: These two routes are in the Kgaswane Mountain Reserve and are open to the public. The Summit Route is 25,3 km in length and allows swimming in natural pools. The Baviaanskrans route is 19,5 km long and passes the Garden of Remembrance and has a fine waterfall view.
Koperfontein, Kranskloof and Rustenburg Hiking and Horse Trails: The area is traversed by hiking and horse trails. Interesting day walks include Koperfontein (See also Derby). This trail goes past a river and over hills with lookout points. Overnight hikes include the Eagles, the Kranskloof and the Rustenburg trails. Accommodation is available either in huts or at a camp site.
Art And Crafts
Jasmyn Tea Garden: Local art and crafts can be bought at the Jasmyn Tea Garden. The tea garden also sells fresh produce and home-made jams, sweets and biscuits.
Magalies Meander: The Magalies Meander is close to Johannesburg and traverses the beautiful Magaliesberg Mountain Range. The route exposes the visitor to the natural scenery, wildlife and rock formations of the area. The art studios, restaurants, little shops and cosy lodges weave their own magic over the area, making it difficult for visitors to leave. Part of the Meander falls in Gauteng and part in the North West.
Paul Bodenstein Park: Come and view the bronze animal sculptures, as well as their real-life avian counterparts including some fine specimens of water birds.
Rustenburg Art Ramble: The Rustenburg Art Ramble covers various art and crafts centres, tea gardens, a bird farm, horse trails, farm stalls, restaurants and hotels. The route is close enough to Pretoria and Gauteng to be a popular day trip. Many of the local potters and artists have opened their studios and visitors may buy from them directly. The Art of Africa Gallery offers a wide selection of woodcarvings, soapstone statues and other crafted work. The furniture and antiques at the Schutze German Crafts Gallery are exquisite.
Craft Planet Creations are made from recycled fabric and the company specialises in customised dyeing, silkscreen printing, sewing, hand weaving and needlepoint.
Fauna And Flora
Kgaswane Mountain Reserve: The northern slopes of the Magaliesberg are home to a large variety of bird and animal life that are protected by the Kgaswane Mountain Reserve. The total antelope population in the reserve exceeds 800. Antelope species include Bushbuck, Kudu, Waterbuck, Zebra, Oribi and the famous breeding herd of Sable that is particularly well suited to the area. Carnivores such as Leopard, Black-Backed Jackal, Aardwolf and Caracal, as well as primates such as Baboon, Vervet Monkey and Bush Baby, have also found a home in the reserve. The diverse habitat types sustain over 250 species of birds, including the endangered Cape Vulture and one pair of black eagles. The reserve offers a number of self-guided trails that include day hikes such as the Peglarae interpretative trail and the Vlei Ramble, as well as overnight trails such as the Summit and the Baviaans trails. A small camping site, which caters for both tents and caravans, is also available.
Pilanesberg National Park: The 55 000 ha Pilanesberg National Park lies 40 km north of Rustenburg and is just one and a half hour’s drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria. The park was formed on a 1 200 million-year-old alkaline crater, termed the “Pilanesberg National Park Alkaline Ring Complex” and is one of only three of its kind in the world. Archaeologists and palaeontologists are still intrigued by the four concentric mountain rings that made up the rims of the old volcano that erupted millions of years ago. In addition to the more obvious attraction of the “Big Five”, the natural beauty of the rock formations and hilly plains of the park are also worthy of mention. Several examples of San rock art can also be seen at several sites in the reserve. Pilanesberg is also unique for its game translocation programme and its land rehabilitation projects. Before Pilanesberg was proclaimed in 1979, the Park was degraded and depleted of game as a result of intense settlement by commercial farmers. Operation Genesis introduced more than 6 000 head of game into the area. Pilanesberg is also an endangered species haven with black rhino, roan, sable, tsessebe, foot-and-mouth free buffalo and wild dogs. Various species of game are bred here to stock zoos and other reserves. The highly endangered white and black rhino are safely kept and carefully monitored within the boundaries of the park, allowing for the steady increase of numbers. There are also no fewer than 350 species of birds in the Park to view. Pilanesberg also has a walk-in aviary at the main entrance gate. Indigenous trees have been planted in the walk-through aviary that houses beautiful local and exotic species of birds that have been hand-reared and are therefore not shy of humans. Dawn and sunset drives in open vehicles can be booked. Hot Air Balloon safaris offer a unique scenic experience for tourists. Accommodation includes upmarket lodges, such as Bakubung and Kwa Maritane, as well as rustic self-catering tented bush camps.
Retief’s Kloof (Valley): This lovely scenic area, noted for its deep ravines, luminous pools and breathtaking waterfalls, attracts many keen naturalists and rock climbers.
Vaalkop Dam Nature Reserve: The Vaalkop Dam Nature Reserve lies near Beestekraal, north east of Rustenburg and 54 km north of Brits. The reserve is ideal for angling and bird watching and is home to 340 species of birds, several species of fish, including carp and yellowfish and a variety of types of bushveld game. The Reserve is divided into two parts, one of which is open to the public for water sports and is situated on the eastern section, the other 800 hectares forming a bird sanctuary that is a strict conservation area and is only opened to researchers and bird clubs by prior arrangement. Game drives, hiking trails, boating and other water sport opportunities are possible within the boundaries of the open reserve. Basic campsite facilities are available but visitors should be completely self-sufficient.
History And Architecture
For many years Rustenburg was the starting point for expeditions into the Kalahari Desert and to what is now Zimbabwe.
Anglican Church: The thatched roof Anglican Church in Van Staden Street was built in 1871. The nearby cemetery contains the graves of British officers killed during the Anglo-Boer War.
Anglo-Boer War Forts: A number of Anglo-Boer War forts that were built on the slopes of the Magaliesberg can still be viewed today.
Boekenhoutfontein farm: Boekenhoutfontein is the former homestead of Paul Kruger, President of the Transvaal Republic. The farm is a destination on the Art Ramble route and includes a house built by Kruger for himself, another for his son, as well as the oldest pioneer cottage of the former Transvaal province. On Saturdays visitors can enjoy freshly baked bread that has been baked in an old Dutch oven. The homestead also boasts a fully-fledged restaurant.
Dutch Reformed Church: Construction of the Dutch Reformed Church began in 1898 but it was only completed in 1903. It served as a military hospital during the Anglo-Boer War.
Granite Syringa Tree and Reformed Church: A granite replica of a syringa tree under which the town’s first Reformed Church was established stands in Church Street.
Hervormde (Reformed) Church Square: A peace agreement, which ended the almost fatal rivalry between the two Voortrekker (Cape Dutch Pioneer) leaders Andries Potgieter and Andries Pretorius, was reached on the site of the present Reformed Church Square.
Kruger Monument: The Kruger Monument in front of the Town Hall depicts Paul Kruger in his last days before his exile and death in Switzerland.
Rustenburg Museum: The Rustenburg Museum in the Town Hall on Plein Street has a statue of Paul Kruger, as well as exhibits on local cultural and archaeological history.
Saulspoort Mission Station: Saulspoort is one of Transvaal’s oldest Dutch Reformed mission stations.
Statue of a Voortrekker Girl: The Statue of a Voortrekker Girl is a tribute to the influence that Christianity had on the area.