The discovery of diamonds at Klipdrift on the Vaal River in 1869 drew thousands of prospectors. The area was renamed Barkly West in 1873 after becoming part of the Crown Colony of Griqualand West.
Renowned writer Sarah Gertrude Millin grew up in the district. Her father opened and operated a shop in Barkly West. One of the first towns to be affected by the diamond rush, the district’s economy is driven by stock and irrigation farming and mining.
Licensed prospectors still sift the sand and gravel of the Vaal River for ever elusive diamonds. Guided tours only.
North bank, Vaal River. Brought up-country by rail and ox wagon, this steel girdered bridge was the first to ford the Vaal River in 1885. The tollhouse was restored in 2000 as a museum with displays on local geology, archaeology and history.
Alluvial diamond diggings from 1870 revealed many archeological sites. An open air display explains the significance of early hand-axe industries (over a million years old).
Characterised by breakwaters where diggers still labour, the river has many pools, rapids, waterfalls and features with odd names, eg Gong Gong, Beaumont’s Folly and Bosman’s Fortune.
1 500-year-old rock engravings (see Kimberley for more information).
St Mary’s Anglican Church, built in 1871, was the first church on the diamond fields.
Diamond Fields Tourism
Tel: +27 (0) 53 838 0923