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 a 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 archaeological heritage, including stunning examples of ancient rock engravings, reflects a past that reaches back to the very origin of humankind.