Once the religious and administrative heart of a farming community, Rustenburg, about 45 minutes away from the famed Sun City and reached via the major N4 highway, is now often referred to as “Platinum City”. Its new moniker comes from two large platinum mines – said to be the world’s largest – outside the town, which translates in English to “town of rest”.
Rustenburg’s reputation for being restful comes from its scenic Magaliesberg surroundings, its balmy subtropical weather, which is comfortable even in mid-winter, and its moderate pace.
The town was founded in 1851 by the Voortrekkers after their defeat of the Matabele warrior, Mzilikazi. Later, Rustenburg was the location of battles between English troops and Boers, and there are a number of battlefields, gravesites and forts to view in the area.
In post-apartheid Rustenburg, a local tribe known as the Royal Bafokeng has successfully reclaimed land situated on the mineral-rich Merensky Reef.
The reef is rich with chrome and platinum deposits and the Bafokeng now have substantial interests in mining. They have contributed in many ways to the town, not least of all in the construction of the world-class Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace, used as a FIFA World Cup stadium in 2010.
The pretty town’s streets are lined with jacaranda trees. Historical sites to explore include the Rustenburg Museum located in the Town Hall, the Anglican and Dutch Reformed churches and a statue of the Boer leader, Paul Kruger, who owned a farm here. The town also has a number of nature reserves in very close proximity, while the water-based pleasures of the Hartbeespoort Dam and the entertainment pleasures of Sun City are not too far off.
Look out for
The sable antelope is among the antelope species found in the Kgaswane Mountain Reserve, a short distance from the town centre. This nature reserve has some remarkable rock formations and offers good terrain for hiking and biking.
More than 115 tree and bush species grow in the Rustenberg Nature Reserve, which also holds 13 species of antelope, predators such as jackal, hyena, caracal and leopard, and well more than 200 bird species.
The Anglican Church is a national monument built in 1871. So too is the Lutheran Church, constructed in 1896 at nearby Kroondal, a settlement started by people of German descent.
The Pilanesberg National Park is found just outside Rustenburg in an extinct volcanic crater. It is a “Big Five” game sanctuary with some family-style and luxurious accommodation.
The Paul Kruger Country Museum is located on the Boer leader’s farm at Boekenhoutfontein. Here you can view 19th-century artefacts on display in a number of buildings.