Theunissen

This town, founded in 1906, bears the name of Colonel Helgaard Theunissen, commandant of the Winburg Commando during the Anglo-Boer War. Theunissen lies in the centre of the Province and is surrounded by rich agricultural land. It is only 15 km from the Vet River and the Erfenis Dam from which it receives its water. Apart from the big maize crop harvests raised in the area, this area is also one of the few in the Free State to boast of an estate vineyard. Mushrooms are also cultivated in the area and the town also has a cheese factory. There are several goldmines and two diamond mines in the area.

Adventure And Sport

Golf: The town has its own golf course.

Water sports: Angling, canoeing, power boating and skiing opportunities abound at the nearby Erfenis Dam. Abseiling facilities are also available.

Art And Crafts

Art and Crafts Route: The town is one of the stops on the Goldfields Art Route. Weaving is one of the crafts practised in this area.

Cuisine

Cheese factory: Five different kinds of cheese are made on the farm Welgeluk, namely Gouda, Pepper Gouda, Garlic Gouda, Feta and low-fat cheese. Visit, taste and buy by appointment.

Goldfields Wine Cellar: Wine can be sampled at the Goldfields Wine Cellar; the only privately owned country estate wine cellar in the Northern Free State. Ask to see its interesting cycad collection before you leave. This collection contains 29 of the 31 South African varieties of cycad found in the country.

Mushrooms: Mushrooms are cultivated on Geluksfontein, a farm in the district. Make an appointment to see the farm and sample their lovely delicacies.

Fauna And Flora

Erfenis Dam Nature Reserve: The Erfenis Dam Nature Reserve lies in the grassveld and vlei (marsh) region of the Free State about 18 km east of Theunissen. Beautiful karee and wild olive trees grow along the ridges of the reserve. The turn-off to the reserve lies just off the Theunissen-Winburg Road. Animals such as mountain reedbuck, red hartebeest and zebra can be easily spotted in the open grass savannah. The reserve also has many different species of terrestrial and aquatic birds and waterfowl, such as South African shellduck and Egyptian geese. Accommodation consists of a caravan park with power points for some of the sites, as well as a bush camp with five tents (2 beds per tent). All the tents have power points and lights. Both the caravan park and the bush camp have adequate ablution facilities. The dam in the reserve is home to several species of fish, such as yellowfish, carp, barbel and Orange River mudfish. Angling is one of the most popular activities in the reserve but visitors can also participate in other water sports, such as skiing, canoeing, paragliding and windsurfing.

Tweefontein Nature Reserve and Game Farm: The farm is situated approximately 7 km from the town. Game viewing and hunting, as well as birdwatching are offered. Game species include the usual antelope and buck, as well as zebra, lion and giraffe. Accommodation ranges from luxury log cabins, a bush camp for those who want to “rough” it and a 100 year-old house that has been lovingly restored to its former glory. Wild dogs are successfully being bred at the reserve.

History And Architecture

Great Trek Monument: The Great Trek Monument is in the centre of town.

Paardenvallei Farm Museum: The Paardenvallei Farm Museum has a unique private collection of antique furniture, books, Anglo-Boer War memorabilia and many other items of antique and historic value. The owner of the farm has dedicated her life to recording the history of her family and of other Afrikaans families in the district and of the farm on which she lives. The farm is situated near the site of the Battle of Vet River and is one of only a few farms and homesteads that were not burnt down by the British. Instead, the house was used as a supply depot and hospital during the war. The graves of several British soldiers, some trenches and the foundations of blockhouses erected by the British can still be seen on the farm.

Other Attractions

Mine Tours: Several of the old gold mines in the area offer underground tours.

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