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Kimberley Travel Tips, South Africa

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Kimberley is a city in the province of Northern Cape in central South Africa. The city is renowned the world over for its history as one of the biggest diamond mines in the world.

The discovery of diamonds in Kimberley goes back to 1866, when Erasmus Jacobs found pebble that turned out to be a 21.25 carat (4.25 g) diamond, later named Eureka. Three years later, another diamond was discovered in the same area. It was named the Star of South Africa.

Big Hole open-pit diamond mine, Kimberley, South AfricaBig Hole open-pit diamond mine, Kimberley, South Africa
photo sourcehttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_pit_mine.jpg
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The discovery of an 83.50 carat (16.7 g) diamond on the Vooruitzigt farm belonging to the De Beers brothers in 1871 was a start of a diamond rush, with prospectors stampeding into the area, a hillock that soon became the world renowned Kimberley Mine.

With the discovery of diamonds, the Vooruitzigt farm got a new name: New Rush. However the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lord Kimberley, would have nothing to do with a name as unsophisticated as New Rush, or the original Dutch name, which he could neither write nor pronounce properly.

McGregor Museum, KimberleyMcGregor Museum, Kimberley
photo sourcehttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:McGregor_Museum,_Kimberley_%284527868638%29.jpg
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To the task of renaming the site fell on his Colonial Secretary, J.B. Currey. Ever the diplomat, Currey those a name that for sure Lord Kimberley could write and pronounce: his own. And that was how Vooruitzigt/New Rush became Kimberley, by Proclamation on 5 July, 1873.

The hillock where Vooruitzigt Farm once stood soon disappeared under the picks and shovels of thousands of miners, creating the largest hole ever dug by hand, called simply, Big Hole. It has a surface area of 17 hectares (42 acres) and is 463 meters wide. Between 1871 and 1914, when the Big Hole closed, the site had produced 2,722 kg of diamonds.

World War I Memorial, KimberleyWorld War I Memorial, Kimberley
photo sourcehttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:World_War_I_memorial_in_Kimberley.jpg
authorshipAnne97432
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Visiting Kimberley

You can fly to Kimberley from major cities in South Africa. The city is served by flights from South African Airways. You can also take the Spoornet inter-city trains to Kimberley from Cape Town, Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, Pietermaritzburg, Durban and Marikeng.

Places of Interest in Kimberley

  1. Big Hole
    The largest hole dug by hand, this former diamond mine is today a tourist attraction. A museum village is laid out around the rim comprising a number of historic buildings.
  2. Duggan-Cronin Gallery
    Gallery displaying some 8,000 photographs of native people of the Northern Cape. They were shot by Alfred Duggan-Cronin over a 20 year period during the turn of the 20th century.
  3. Honoured Dead Memorial
    Memorial honoring British soldiers who died during the siege of Kimberley in 1899.
  4. Kimberley Club
    The elitist club for diamong magnates to wheel and deal.
  5. McGregor Museum
    Historic building that was built during the South African War. Today it is a museum of natural and cultural history with displays on local ethnology and archaeology.
  6. Oppenheimer Memorial Gardens
    Gardens named after Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, the early 20th century German-born diamond buyer. There is a monument of five diamond miners surrounding a fountain.
  7. William Humphreys Art Gallery
    Gallery showcasing works by European masters as well as local artists.

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