Smithfield, one of the oldest towns in the Free State, was established in 1848 on the farm Waterval. Two important tourist routes, one linking Bloemfontein with East London in the Eastern Cape Province (N6) and the other linking Cape Town with Durban, meet and cross near the town. The town was named after Sir Harry Smith – Governor of the Cape Colony at the time. The area was the scene of much fighting between the early Free State settlers and Basotho tribes.
Adventure And Sport
Hiking: Several hiking trails can be followed in this area, for example, the two-day, 24-km Stokstert Trail in the Caledon Conservancy. Overnight accommodation is provided in bungalows along the trail. Other hikes include the Grootkloof and Hamolapo Trails.
Water sport and angling: Angling, power boating and windsurfing are popular pastimes on Smithfield Dam.
Archaeology And Palaeontology
San Rock Art: Some caves near Smithfield bear proud witness to San occupation of the area some 1 000 years ago. The cave walls are adorned with paintings and etchings.
Art And Crafts
Biba’s Art and Crafts: Visit Biba’s to browse and buy an interesting range of art and crafts.
Little Gallery: Little Gallery has an interesting collection of local art and crafts for sale.
Fauna And Flora
Letsatsi Game Lodge: The lodge offers opportunities, such as game drives, birdwatching and hiking excursions, as well as luxury overnight accommodation and a tented camp.
Welgegund Nature Reserve Conservancy: Enjoy horse riding, walking/hiking or just a peaceful picnic at this reserve.
History And Architecture
Basotho War Memorial: This memorial in front of the Town Hall was erected in honour of those who lost their lives during the Basotho War.
Caledon River Museum: The museum depicts the history of the Free State. Exhibits include an eighteenth century kitchen and a wool washery dating back to 1866. “Old Grietjie”, the ship’s cannon named after the wife of gunner Robert Finlay that was used during the Basotho Wars to bombard the fort of Thaba Bosiu, is also housed on the property. Two gunners who were involved in the inauguration ceremony were killed when they peered down the barrel after lighting the fuse.
French Mission Station: Carmel, a former French Mission Station, situated 43 km southwest of the town, can be visited by appointment only.
Karoo House: Karoo House, now a guest house, has been declared a National monument.
Leeukop Farm: The Anglo-Boer War hero, General Christiaan De Wet, was born on the farm Leeukop, near Smithfield.
Ox wagon: An old ox wagon stands among willow trees and flowers on Juanaplein (Juana was the Spanish-born wife of the then Governor of the Cape, Sir Henry Smith) at the intersection of Voortrekker and President Hoffman Streets.
Police Station: The elegant old sandstone police station is well worth a visit, especially to view the arched portico.
Roberts War Memorial: This memorial was erected in honour of Lord Roberts, who commanded the British forces in this area during the Anglo-Boer War.
Traacha Wool Washing Works: Traacha was established in 1874 as a wool-washing works and wheat mill. In 1894 when the farm was sold, the works were vacated and the ensuing years brought about decay and disintegration. All that now remains is a crumbling brick tower.