The frenetic activity, the extraordinary web of pulley cables leading to a six-storey staging platform and the sight of up to 30 000 miners working 3 600 claims over 17ha have faded into the sepia memories of photographic archives. Yet, somehow, memories of the Kimberley tent-town’s days linger. Many old buildings, museums and one of South Africa’s most important art galleries lend an historic ambience to the city that thrust its way to prominence during the diamond rush. A reconstruction of the original ‘rush town’ stands alongside the incredible Big Hole, the largest hand-dug excavation in the world, offering visitors insight into the lives of those who lived and worked through the dreams and nightmares of a vibrant history we take for granted.
During the Anglo-Boer War, Kimberley was besieged by the Boers for four months. In this time, many heroes rose to prominence. Boer forces surrounding Kimberley showed how a determined, small and under-resourced force could keep the British army at bay for months. But Kimberley’s diamond story and siege are part of only the most recent history here. A rich archeological heritage, including stunning examples of ancient rock engravings, reflects a past that reaches back to the very origin of humankind.