Kimberley has some of the oldest and deepest diamond mines in the world, where miners worked a kilometre into the womb of mother earth. diamond-diggers-camp-1880sToday's modern mining methods coupled with the intricate diamond extraction process has yielded untold wealth. At the Open Mine Museum and the famous "Big Hole" you will taste the ancient Kimberlite dust and relive the digging process of yesteryear while getting to know more about the hectic diamond rush of a century ago.

The new and improved Open Mine boasts an internationaly recognised display of diamonds, anew 20 minute movie and a fantastically designed viewing platform. After whetting your appetite at the infamous Occidental Bar, you'll depart for the diamond diggings to experience living history first-hand at one of the many alluvial diggings on the outskirts of Kimberley where there are still diggers chasing fortune with only pick and shovel! The latter part of the tour may only be done with an accredited tourist guide as South African mining laws forbid unannounced entry into mining areas.

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Tourist Attractions

The Big Hole

Kimberley is famous for the Big Hole, which is often called the worlds deepest man made hole. Kimberley is the place where diamonds are found. And the Big Hole is a huge pit, almost circular and 215m deep, right in the middle of the town.

The diamonds found here were formed in vertical pipes. Huge layers of rocks eroded, and so it is cut through by today's surface. The circular pipe reaches the surface right on the farm, two Dutch settlers bought in 1871. The two brothers called Johannes Nicolaas and Diederik Arnoldus de Beer soon discovered the diamonds on their ground. This lead to a diamond rush, which made it impossible for them to keep the land. They were not able to protect it from the growing tide of intruders, so they sold it. And although they did not become the owners of the mines, one of the mines inherited their name and until today the diamond trade is connected with their names. De Beers is the company which today controls virtually all diamonds on Earth.

But back to history. First two big mines formed, the De Beers and Kimberley mines. Cecil John Rhodes and Charles Rudd gained control of both mines and merged them, forming De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited in 1888.

In the first time the diamonds were mined in an opencast mine, following the pipe. Colesberg Kopje soon disappeared and turned into a pit. The result was the Big Hole, a vast crater dug entirely with picks and shovels. In this opencast 2,722kg of diamonds were mined until it closed in 1914. It is the largest hand-dug excavation in the world.

Today the Big Hole is about 215m deep, but 40m of ground water leave only 175m visible. Originally the hole was 240m deep, but after it was abandoned it was used to throw debris in. The underground Kimberly Mine was mined to a depth of 1097m.

The Kimberley Mine Museum is located at the rim of this hole, and is an open air museum, a small village showing the history of diamond mining at Kimberley. A complete little diamond rush town with shops and houses, a church, diggers' tavern, Barney Barnato's Boxing Academy, and the De Beers directors' private railway coach. The Transport Hall contains an assortment of late 19-century vehicles. An exhibition at De Beers Hall displays uncut diamonds and jewelry. On display is the largest uncut diamond in the world, the "616". Its name is its weight: 616 carats. Even better known because of its history is the "Eureka", the first diamond discovered in South Africa.

In 2006 De Beers invested R50 million (about USD 7.7 million) for the renovation of the Big Hole heritage site. The museum is modernized, with an audiovisual theatre and a cantilevered platform above the rim of the Big Hole that allows visitors a vertical view down into the hole, as its end is across the rim.

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The McGregor Museum

The McGregor Museum was officially founded on the 24th September 1907 when the title deeds were handed over to the Management Committee. Prior to this there had been several calls for the establishment of a Museum in Kimberley but nothing had materialised. Eventually, Mrs McGregor, the widow of a previous mayor of Kimberley, Alexander McGregor, donated the funds necessary to establish the Museum. The official title was to be the Alexander McGregor Memorial Museum and it has been affectionately known over the last one hundred years as “the McGregor”.   

The first director of the Museum (from 1908-1947) was Miss Maria Wilman who had studied Geology, Mineralogy and Chemistry at Cambridge University. She was also interested in Botany and Archaeology and published major works on these two subjects. Since her appointment the Museum has gone from strength to strength under a number of directors and has made important contributions to the ecological and historical knowledge of the Northern Cape.

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Flamingo Casino

The intoxicating era of the Diamond Rush has returned to Kimberley with the advent of the Flamingo Casino. It is a renaissance celebration of the turn-of-the-century style and romance of this Victorian age. The design of the Flamingo Casino is based on the contemporary architecture of the gracious buildings in modern Kimberley that survived the heady days of the diamond rush.

The Flamingo Casino is passionate about always providing their customers with a Fun Filled, Exciting and Memorable Gaming Entertainment Experience.

Teemane's much anticipated Flamingo Casino provides an exceptional leisure and entertainment facility for adults. The Flamingo Casino is situated adjacent to the Kimberley Golf Club and guests can enjoy both the incentive of a challenging course and a stimulating casino experience.
The focal point of the development is the Casino with 9 tables and 200 state-of-the-art slot machines. The exotic texture and brilliant pink shades of its namesake are accentuated throughout the design and décor.

The casino is flanked on one side by a family restaurant, providing a lavish dining experience, and the Flamingo Conference Centre. There are bars and a small retail component. Accommodation is available at the 90-room Road Lodge Kimberley.

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Kimberley Archaeology Route

The discovery of mineral wealth changed forever the way people envisaged what is now the Northern Cape. The copper mines in Namaqualand and then, on a far bigger and epoch-changing scale, the diamond diggings of the Kimberley region, attracted huge influxes of fortune seekers and migrant workers. The Archaeology Route takes you back to a past predating all of this. But much of its contemporary appreciation acquires added significance in relation to the recent past and present concerns.

The McGregor Museum's Ancestors and Frontier Galleries - a good place to start - show the long sweep of human history in the area from handaxe times more than a million years ago, to the emergence of modern humans in Africa and of cultural behaviours that include art, to the coming of farmers and state formation in the last 2000 years. It concludes with a challenging look at our frontier history - out of which different scenarios were possible before the finding of diamonds and gold.

You may turn this into a longer trip, to Wonderwerk Cave halfway between Danielskuil and Kuruman. An upgrade for public access to this site is necessary owning to fragile sections. At the moment visitors may only see the front portion of the cave, where distinctive 'fingerpaintings' occur on the walls. A new entrance will be created in 2008. There is a site museum and chalet accommodation. Recent palaeomagnetic and cosmogenic dating at
Wonderwerk Cave puts this site in a league all its own and suggests that the low density of artefacts right at the bottom of the sequence are Oldowan and not Acheulean as previously assumed. If this is so, then this may be the earliest known cave habitation by human ancestors on earth.

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Kamfers Dam

( First Breeding Locality in South Africa For Lesser Flamingos! )

Kamfers Dam is now South Africa's first breeding locality for Lesser Flamingos and by late-January there were more than 10Q0 chicks on the island, with many eggs still to hatch! This wetland is only the fourth breeding locality for Lesser Flamingos in Africa, and the sixth in the world. As the Lesser Flamingo is a globally-threatened species, the establishment of another breeding site will, contribute to the species' conservation. The Kamfers Dam flamingo breeding
sland project is a collaborative project between Ekapa Mining, the dam's landowners (Herbert and Brenda Booth) and the Department of Tourism, Environment & Conservation. Regular updates on the breeding event (including images) can be found at the following URL:
http://www.andersonafrica.co.za/ flamingoisland.html

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Game Viewing And Eco-Tourism

The Northern Cape offers wide-open spaces, unbelievable horizons, big skies and naturally functioning ecosystems. It also offers peace, tranquillity and plenty of bird and wildlife. Close to Kimberley we have the Mokala National Park and also many game farms which offer helicopter, hunting, fishing, photographic safaris and game drives. Our birdlife has to be seen to be appreciated! A truly remarkable sight is the communal nests of the sociable weaver -sometimes even adorning telephone poles!
Plants and animals in our area are superbly adapted to our conditions, for instance the
Gemsbok can happily exist for months on end without drinking water - it gets enough moisture from the plants it eats!
For those with an adventurous spirit there are also many adventure trails such as river rafting, mountain biking, boating, hiking etc.

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The N12 Battlefields Route

The unforgiving circle of Boers trapped the citizens of the town, including diamond magnate Cecil John Rhodes, who had taken up residence in the Sanatorium, now the McGregor Museum. The siege was to last 4 months, over the hottest period of the year, and placed a great burden of boredom, ever-diminishing food and water, and danger from bombardment upon the towns-people. In the last weeks of the siege, food was rationed, and sickness was taking its toll.


It was deemed imperative to break the hold of the Boers on the town. To do this meant that British troops had to be moved smartly up from the south, using the existing railway, to Kimberley. The journey was not without its battles, as the Boer troops moved along the line to meet the British forces. At the Battles of Belmont, Graspan (Enslin) and Modder River, both forces gave a good account of themselves, but the Boers elected to fall back towards Magersfontein Ridge, where they entrenched. The citizens of Kimberley, knowing that the British were coming, waited anxiously for relief. Early on 11 December 1899, they knew that a heavy battle was under way. They did not know that the Boers would defeat the British, causing them to retreat to their Modder River encampment.


Kimberley would have to wait until 15 February 1900 before General French and his cavalry galloped through Boer lines to relieve the town. The battlefields are largely unchanged from the days of the war. Field displays explain each battle, and the roads are well sign-posted. Magersfontein, the site of the heaviest battle, boasts an interesting field museum, and includes something for the bird and animal lover as well. A restaurant provides refreshments. The story of the Relief of Kimberley is told in the Siege Rooms at the McGregor Museum.

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The Diamond Diggers Tour

Kimberley has some of the oldest and deepest diamond mines in the world, where miners worked a kilometre into the womb of mother earth. Today's modern mining methods coupled with the intricate diamond extraction process has yielded untold wealth. At the Open Mine Museum and the famous "Big Hole" you will taste the ancient Kimberlite dust and relive the digging process of yesteryear while getting to know more about the hectic diamond rush of a century ago.

The new and improved Open Mine boasts an internationaly recognised display of diamonds, anew 20 minute movie and a fantastically designed viewing platform. After whetting your appetite at the infamous Occidental Bar, you'll depart for the diamond diggings to experience living history first-hand at one of the many alluvial diggings on the outskirts of Kimberley where there are still diggers chasing fortune with only pick and shovel! The latter part of the tour may only be done with an accredited tourist guide as South African mining laws forbid unannounced entry into mining areas.

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The Belgravia Historical Walk

Opulent lifestyles, famous people, unique architecture, entertaining anecdotes and gossip of years gone by, as well as the ambience of Kimberley's first exclusive residential suburb are what visitors doing the Belgravia Historical Walk will be exposed to. After all, what more can be expected of a walk that packs 30 of Kimberley's most historical sites in under 3 kilometres?

The walk commences at the imposing McGregor Museum and meanders past sites such as the birth place of diamond magnate Harry Oppenheimer; "The Half" the world's first drive-in pub; the magnificent Dunluce and the Duggin-Cronin gallery which was erected in 1889. So savour Kimberley's romantic and glamorous past by taking a walk through Belgravia. An informative guide book on the walk is available at the McGregor Museum.
1. McGregor Museum.
2. No. 3 Egerton Road, former home of architect DWGreatbatch.
3. Halfway House.
4. No, 9 Egerton Road, designed by Greatbatch in 1897 for Arend Brink, diamond broker and valuator.
5. No. 22 Elsmere Road, for more than 50 years the home of HA Morris.
His sister-in-law, Olive Mclntyre, lived here from 1917 to 1990.
6. Girls' High School.
7. No. 18 Elsmere Road, the house of Russell Elliott, an honoured citizen.
8. Houses built by Col Sir David Harris.
9. St Patrick's College.
10. Nazareth House.
11. George & Dragon.
12. Sister Henrietta Stockdale Nursing College.
13. Battle of Sguare Hill Memorial, Cenotaph World War I & II.
14. Masonic Temple.
15. Statue of Sister Henrietta Stockdale.
16. St Cyprian's Cathedral Church.
17. Statue of Cecil John Rhodes.
18. Colonel Sir David Harris.
19. The Drill Hall.
20. Violet Bank.
21. Queens Park.
22. Rudd House.
23. Cape Police Memorial.
24. Belgravia Mine.
25. Home of Sir Ernest Oppenheimer.
26. No. 11 Lodge Road, the house Herbert Harris built for his English bride.
27. Dunluce.
28. The Grange.
29. Duggan-Cronin Gallery.
30. Alex Hall Memorial Gardens.

 

 

More info www.solplaatje.org.za/downloads/Tourism/Kimberley_bro_2.pdf

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The William Humphreys Art Gallery

The William Humphreys Art Gallery, situated in Kimberley's Civic Centre, is considered one of the finest art museums in South Africa. It was opened in 1952 and named after its principal benefactor, William Benbow Humphreys (1889 - 1965). 
In 1948 William Humphreys donated to the city a substantial portion of his personal collection of 16th and 17th Century Dutch and Flemish Old Masters, British and French paintings, antique furniture and other objects d'art. 
This gift combined with the South African works of art brought together by members of the Art Section of the Kimberley Athenaeum and The Max Greenberg Bequest formed the nucleus of the collection. The Humphreys Loan Collection and Timlin Collection on indefinite loan from De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited, augment it. More recently the Meyer Collection of European and Oriental Porcelain and the Lawson Collection of Old Master Drawings and Prints have been acquired.
At present the Art Gallery concentrates on collecting South African works of art. Apart from its primary function as a museum of art, this Gallery serves the community as an educational and cultural centre. Its activities include temporary exhibitions, art workshops mainly for children, development stimulation classes for pre-school children, craft workshops for unemployed women, lectures, video shows and concerts. We also have a successful outreach programme in which we take graphic exhibitions to the small towns of the Northern Cape province where learners are exposed to world of art. Guided tours are arranged on request

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