The town of Virginia was laid out in 1954 and is situated between the gold and uranium mines of Beatrix, Harmony, Free State Saaiplaas, Joel and Oryx. The town owes its name to two American surveyors who were worki ng on the railway project in 1890 and who carved the name of their home state, Virginia in the United States, on a boulder. This name became the name of the local station and, in time, was extended to the new town. Virginia is one of the most beautiful towns in the Free State and with the Sand River flowing through the town, is also a popular holiday destination. An annual Sand River Festival celebrates the town’s many attributes. To add to the attraction, hectare upon hectare of golden wheat fields surrounds the town, lending it a distinct rural atmosphere.
Adventure And Sport
Angling and water sport: The Sand River is ideal for angling, canoeing, boating and water-skiing activities and has been the venue for various South African water sport championships.
Golf: The 18-hole Sand River Golf Course possesses a central lake.
Hiking: Trails such as the Hammerkop and Paradise Flycatcher Trails will allow you to experience the wonderful bird life of the area.
Horse riding: There are several horse riding schools in the town that are ready to accommodate riders both young and old.
Sport: The town abounds with gyms and sporting facilities for judo, karate, boxing, wrestling, rugby, soccer, cricket, tennis and many other popular sports.
Swimming: Harmonie Recreation Club sports a lovely swimming pool and Tikwe Lodge has an Olympic-size pool.
Art And Crafts
Art and Crafts Centres: There are several art and crafts centres in the town such as at Tikwe Lodge that hosts a monthly art and crafts market, as well as the Kontrei Winkel, Anne’s Potteries and Onner-innie-straat art and crafts. The town is on the Goldfields Art Route.
Biltong Factory: The Biltong Factory shows visitors how this well-known South African treat is made. Meat, spices and dry air are all that is needed to make this protein-rich snack.
Fauna And Flora
Birdwatching: Virginia is situated on the migratory route and many rare varieties of birds fly into and flourish in the town and its surroundings.
Guest Houses and Holiday Farms: Lekker Rus is situated just outside the town and has a caravan park, restaurant and boating trips. Elizamor, “Die Ou Huis” and “Boer en Brit” also offer accommodation and true Free State hospitality.
Harmonie Farmhouse and Riverside Resort: The resort has a caravan park and angling facilities. The original farmhouse was burnt down during the Anglo-Boer War and later rebuilt.
Sand River Resort: This resort has bungalows and a caravan park along a 10 km long stretch of the Sand River and is popular among stressed-out visitors. The area is also a nature sanctuary.
Tourism Raft: The tourism raft on the Sand River seats about 50 people and is available for cruises and a variety of other activities.
Virginia Game Reserve and Park: The Virginia Game Reserve houses a large number of small species of antelope. It is also a birdwatcher’s paradise, with many water birds and guinea fowl.
History And Architecture
Sand River Bridge: The old railway bridge spanning the Sand River was the place where the British signed the Sandrivier Convention on 17 January 1852, thereby legally acknowledging the “Voortrekkers’” right to an independent republic north of the Vaal River.
War Cemetery: The graves of more than 20 British soldiers who died during the Anglo-Boer War are in the cemetery. A monument erected in honour of a Major Louis Irving who died here on 14 June 1900, can also be seen in the cemetery.
Mine Tours: Some of the deepest and richest mines in the world are found in this area. A mine tour will enable you to understand all the hard work that is involved in the mining of gold. Regular exhibitions of tribal dancing form part of some of the tours.