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A day trip to Barberton | Barberton Heritage

Driving through the town of Barberton one might see the locomotive parked next to General Street or the De Kaap Stock Exchange in Pilgrim Street. But it is only when taking a leisurely stroll through the streets that the town really shares her secrets with the curious visitor.

By Benno Stander

Barberton Heritage Walk
Start at the beginning
De Villiers Street Barberton

De Villiers Street with the Makonya Mountains in the background

Probably the best place to start a day in Barberton is in its history and there is no better place to get behind the facts than at the Barberton Museum. The well kept and neatly organised little museum is filled with artifacts from days gone by and every display is accompanied by interesting stories and facts in three different languages. From the truths behind Percy Fitzpatrick’s famous novel, Jock of the Bushveld, to the fascinating fable of the infamous Cockney Liz, it’s all there.

Hitting the streets

At the museum you will also find a very handy information brochure with a map that provides the locations of all the historical and interesting sights in town. And the great thing is, most of them are within walking distance. The entire route is neatly marked with signs and information boards to make it easy to navigate your way around from one point of interest to the next. Within a kilometre from the museum you can continue up the mountain to find the Lodge of St. John (built in 1884), the Blockhouse (built by the British in the Anglo-Boer War) and a water turbine (built in 1931 to purify the town’s water), to name but a few. Altogether the heritage walk covers some 24 significant attractions that each has its own unique place in history.

A day trip to Barberton
Settle down

Although the Heritage walk is not the longest of hikes, the heat and humidity that Barberton is famous for will surely have you working up a thirst. This will take you to another Barberton favourite which just so happens to be close by. Even though the Pappas Restaurant franchise is a well known name is South Africa, this one is quite something unique. It is located in what used to be a house that was built over 100 years ago. Apart from some basic renovations and alterations, the structure remains largely in its original state. Much of the interior is still the original Oregon wood that was installed when it was first built. There is also a lovely garden area and play facilities for the young ones. And while you are there, why not try the Pappas Special pizza which is bound to leave a wonderful aftertaste in both your mouth and your memories.

The Phoenix Hotel
The Phoenix Hotel Barberton

The Phoenix Hotel built in 1886.

The hotel was built in 1886 and rumour has it that President Paul Kruger was entertained here after meeting with some of the local gold diggers. The hotel was so popular in its day that many town folk still tell stories of how guests sometimes had to sleep on or under the billiard tables.

The town’s flower

The Barberton daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) is a member of the Gerbera genus and is also known as the Transvaal daisy or as Barbertonse madeliefie in Afrikaans. It was made famous when it became the sole emblem of the formidable Northern Transvaal Rugby Union in 1938. From its first year the Blue Bulls team, as it was affectionately known back then, took the rugby world by storm when they delivered eight springboks from the word go. The Barberton daisy remained on the left chest of the jersey for well over 50 years before the changing of the provinces which followed after 1994.

But luckily this beautiful crimson coloured flower is still to be seen in many parts of the Lowveld and especially in Barberton where many avid gardeners take pride in displaying the town’s own flower.




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