Pilgrim’s rest – Valley of gold
One of the most interesting places I have visited in Mpumalanga South Africa is surely Pilgrim’s rest. The town has a unique antique feeling to it. It is easy to imagine the gold panners and prospectors going about their business in the village. Some would be visiting the canteen after a long day of panning for gold; others might visit the store before closing time. I can imagine children playing in the streets with dogs running beside them. I see a village with a cosmopolitan assembly of people with different talents and trades, who contributed to the development of a lovely town.
The history of this small village dates back to 1873 when a miner, Alex Patterson, discovered alluvial gold on the farm named Ponieskrantz. Apparently Patterson travelled trough this rugged country with a wheel barrow full of his belongings, which earned him the name of Wheelbarrow Patterson.
The news of the discovery of the gold, spread like a wild fire and prospectors from far and wide, hurried them to this farm. The scattered tents and rudimentary shacks that they called home became a village with brick houses, shops, canteens, a church, a newspaper and off course the Royal Hotel. The name was agreed upon by all the prospectors that finally found rest.
Unfortunately, the alluvial gold resources soon became depleted. Many a prospector had to change their trades, some turned to forestry. They sold the village as a monument to the government in 1971. A company started mining for gold again in 1998. The village has been conserved as a “living monument” visited by many tourists, insuring the sustainability of the town. The architecture of the town remains the same, to this day.
Pilgrims rest has a lot to offer any visitor. You can embark on a tour through the town to explore and recognise the interesting history. The TGME Golf course offers a 9-hole layout to the budding golfer. The graveyard is also an interesting place to explore, with the Robber’s Grave laying perpendicular to the rest of the graves. In the evening you can enjoy a street barbeque with the rest of the visitors.
The town is also host to the 2011 Gold panning Championships. The championship attracts a lot of competitors from Great Britain, USA, Mozambique, Canada, Switzerland and many more. The championship is also accompanied by various exciting activities such as the Gold Symposium, traditional Wheelbarrow Race, Diggers Pub Crawl and Diggers Dance.
After a drive through the majestic scenic mountains you will be overwhelmed and welcomed by the authenticity of this village.