When a town is declared a national monument in its entirety, something special probably happened there. Pilgrim’s Rest is such a town and played its part in the development of gold-mad South Africa. It was the location of our real first gold rush, an event that drew thousands of laborers from Scotland and Ireland all in search of elusive gold.
What makes it so special is that it still feels like a gold rush town, filled with old pubs (there were 14 at the height of the gold era) and lodges for weary travelers (like us). A lot of effort has been made to keep the original spirit of the town intact, and in this venture they have succeeded.
It was declared a gold field in 1873 and in no time at all the population swelled to 1,500 inhabitants all searching for gold. Mining continued until 1971 (although they still mine in the surrounding areas) and the town was declared a national monument in 1986. It was added to the tentative list of World Heritage Sites in 2004. The residents all hope that the town will achieve World Heritage Site status soon as this will give them a further mandate to protect this golden village hidden away in Mpumalanga.
Thank you to Johnny Reinders (Senior & Junior) at the The Vine ( 013 768 1080, http://www.pilgrimsrest.org.za/) who showed us how to make Bosveld Boerewors – wrapped in brown paper and directly on the fire – and rump on coal spade, heated on the fire. We stayed at African Silk farm (http://www.africasilks.com) for the evening where amongst other things, we slept in silk bedding.