Nestled in the eastern escarpment region in Mpumalanga, Pilgrim's Rest is a living museum forming part of South African history and it’s monumentally known as the place where the first gold rush in South Africa began. I couldn’t wait to go back to 1873 where once wagons and oxen roamed!
As soon as I arrived in town, I made my way to the ‘Information Centre’ to gain some history and background to some of the shops that are situated along the road. Every wood and corrugated iron building... every aspect of this town tells a story. It was fascinating standing in a street that was once a dirt road where a community would go about their everyday lives accepting deliveries... saying their goodbyes and even walking in the hope of discovering gold in the nearby creek.
Across the street ‘The Royal Hotel’ is a proclaimed National Monument and still has guests staying overnight from all over the world. Its infamous ‘Church Bar’ that was once a chapel shipped from Cape Town is an impressive location to have a cold draught. If you’re not looking at spending the night in their Victorian dated bedrooms then this is still a great place to have some lunch to refill your energy levels before exploring further.
Whilst investigating all the buildings, I was astonished at the items that were used back then. I couldn’t imagine ironing my clothes with a heavy doorstop looking object and even being dressed up in long winter looking dresses with the heat that we get in this country.
Exploring the Old Print House I noticed a poster of ‘Jock and the Bushveld’ and it dawned on me that these were the very streets where Percy Fitzpatrick used to travel to deliver gold field supplies from Delagoa Bay with his trusty dog companion - Jock. Sometimes it puts things into perspective when you read an incredible story like ‘Jock’ and you actually visit a piece of that history.
Climbing up Cemetery Hill, famous for its ‘Robbers Grave’, I passed the Methodist Church that was built in 1911 and looked back down at the little town almost hidden amongst the trees.
Although there has been some negative news sparking about the future of Pilgrim's Rest, it still is a great place to visit on the Panorama Route. It does seem a little neglected but I think through everything the tiny town still deserves our support.