Queenstown was founded in early 1853 and named by Sir George Cathcart after Queen Victoria. Its unusual hexagonal shape was a defensive measure, but the town is now welcoming and relaxed with its cannon sites converted into gardens. It has earned the nickname, the 'Rose Capital of South Africa'.
Situated in the middle of the Eastern Cape, about halfway between Cathcart and Sterkstroom, it lies at the base of the Hangklip mountain on the Komani River. Its position on the N6 means it is often used as a stopover to the Frontier Country, Sunshine Coast and Gateway routes.
The town serves a successful farming community, and its schools are famously excellent. They have produced fine sportsmen such as cricketers Darryl Cullinan and Justin Kemp, and rugby players Kaya Malotana and Dick Muir.
Queenstown’s scenic Karoo mountains, valleys and lovely nature reserves make it a pleasant area for adventurers to walk, hike, climb, bike and fish. They are home to white rhino, antelope and a wide range of birds. Bushman paintings in nearby caves are accessible to visitors.
The area has in the past suffered heavy snow and rainfalls, strong winds, droughts and fires, but it usually has a pleasant climate. There are plenty of guesthouses, B&Bs and restaurants.
Look out for
The Lawrence de Lange Game Reserve has springbok, white rhino, lovely scenery, fascinating flowers and pleasant trails of 4 to 11km in length. It is open daily 08h00 to 17h00.
Longhill Nature Reserve is north of Queenstown in the Longhill Mountains. Entrance is through the Lawrence De Lange Nature Reserve. Walking trails traverse the reserve and picnic spots overlook Queenstown. The ‘Wag 'n Bietjie’ (Afrikaans: wait-a-bit) thorn tree is endemic to this area.
The 8 500ha Tsolwana Game Reserve is in the Winterberg mountain range between Cradock and Queenstown, on the R61 to Tarkastad. ‘Tsolwana’ means ‘little sharp one’ and refers to a nearby conical hill. Its wildlife includes white rhino, giraffe, black wildebeest, bat-eared fox, and a variety of birds, including vultures. It offers unguided or guided walking trails, horse riding, mountain trails, 4x4 rides and rock art sites.
The Bonkolo Dam is 5km outside of Queenstown and is the location of the Queenstown Power and Yacht Club. Water sports such as boating, waterskiing, windsurfing and angling are popular. Picnic spots are available.
The Frontier Museum features a refurbished frontier cottage and a large, rusty steam locomotive engine.