Volksrust is situated some 1 675 m above sea level and is surrounded by mountains and hills that witnessed many historical happenings. The town was established in 1885 on a farm that was used by the Boers to recuperate after the battle of Amajuba (1881), during the Anglo-Transvaal War of Independence. The name of the town means “People’s Rest” but it is also known as “Vukusakhe” (Stand up and build). Volksrust lies close to the KwaZulu-Natal border and the famous battle site of Majuba as well as to other Anglo-Transvaal War (First Anglo-Boer War) sites. The town’s main income is derived from agricultural activities in the area.
Adventure And Sport
Golf: The town has a nine-hole golf course.
Hiking: There are several hiking trails in the area, including the historic, 12-km Amajuba Trail past the famous battle site and the mass graves of the fallen soldiers of the British 58th Regiment, the 13-km Waterval Trail past a crystal clear waterfall and the cliff-top home of the Bald Eagle, the Slangrivier Trail past two waterfalls and the nesting place of the bald ibis and the 21-km Welverdiend Trail that runs next to a river and forest in an area where several different species of buck can be observed.
Horse-riding: You can explore the town and surroundings on horseback. Horse trails with overnight accommodation is also available.
Paragliding: Tomato Mountain north of Volksrust is a popular paragliding spot.
Art And Crafts
Snowy’s Art Market: Snowy’s Art Market offers a fine selection of furniture, crafts and fresh produce for sale.
Fauna And Flora
Bird-watching: The town and its surrounds are a bird watcher’s paradise and there are several nesting sites in the vicinity. The rare bald ibis, kingfisher, paradise flycatcher, hadidi Ibis,blue cranes, sugar birds and woodpecker are found nesting in the area. Hides at the nearby Roodedraai Wetlands offer undisturbed viewing of the birds, and flamingos can be seen at Daggakraal.
Majuba Power Station Nature Reserve: Do drop in at the Majuba Power Station Nature Reserve if you are interested in reptiles. The giant girdled lizard has found a safe home in this reserve.
Entertainment And Shopping
Farm holidays: Several of the farmers in the vicinity offer day trips and farm holidays where real farming activities can be experienced. Some also offer ox wagon trips and leadership development courses for children.
History And Architecture
Battle of Laing’s Nek: The Boers, under the leadership of General Piet Joubert, inflicted serious damage on the British at Laing’s Nek, a few kilometres from Volksrust, in KwaZulu Natal, during the Anglo-Boer war.
Battle of Majuba site: Majuba Hill is considered to be one of the key battlefield sites of South Africa and is fairly easy to climb from the Volksrust side. The British suffered severe losses at the hands of the Boers at this particular site. There are two memorials on the hill, one dedicated to the British soldiers who lost their lives in the battle and the other dedicated to the Transvalers who had to fight their way up the hill.
Battle of Schuinshoogte site: The British suffered severe losses here against the Boers, led by General Piet Joubert, at Schuinshoogte, during the Anglo-Boer War.
Convention Bridge: Just outside the town lie the remains of the bridge on which President Paul Kruger and the British High Commissioner, Sir Henry Loch, met in 1894 to sign the Third Swaziland Convention, by which the Transvaal acquired the rights of administration and protection of Swaziland without actual annexation. Neither man would negotiate on foreign soil and a train carriage was drawn on to the bridge, the border between their respective territories, each therefore remaining in his own territory.
Historical Graves: The house and grave of General Piet Joubert, renowned Boer General, lies west of the town and the grave of Dirk Uys, who died at Laing’s Nek lies east of the town near Mahawane Dam.
O’Neill’s Cottage: The peace treaty that ended the Anglo-Transvaal War was signed at O’Neill’s Cottage, on the slopes of Majuba, just inside KwaZulu Natal. Some of the British soldiers wounded in the Battle of Majuba were treated here. Today, the cottage displays maps, documents, photographs and other memorabilia of the war and the peace.
Sand River: The Sand River has special historic significance because it was here that the Boer forces assembled in 1899 before the start of the Anglo-Boer War.
Volksrust Station: The town’s sandstone station building was built in 1885.
War memorials: There are several memorials and monuments in and around the town. The “Burgher” Monument, dedicated to the memory of the 1 009 women and children who died in the concentration camp nearby during the Anglo-Boer War, as well as to all those who fought for the freedom of the old Zuid Afrikaansche Republic, adorns Voortrekker Square, where a retired steamroller and a Class 19D locomotive No 2696 can also be seen.
Slang River Falls: These beautiful falls are approximately 13 km from town and are well worth the trip