Barberton was born out of a gold rush. This pretty, historic town lies in mountain foothills on the border of Swaziland. Two brothers discovered gold here in 1884, smashed a bottle of gin over the reef and called it Barber’s Camp. It later became Barberton.
In its heyday the town had a population of about 20 000, the biggest in the old Transvaal. It was home to the first stock exchange and post office and had its own newspaper. Along with the fortune seekers and gold-diggers came a proliferation of gambling halls, bars and canteens. Barberton is part of the region known as the Wild Frontier.
Historic Barberton has many old buildings that have been preserved. It also has interesting monuments and an eclectic mix of shops, cafes, restaurants, and arts & crafts spots. Gold is still mined around Barberton today. The reefs here have ancient gold and silver deposits. You can even try your luck at gold panning and take an underground tour of an active mine.
Look out for
Heritage Trail - Explore the soul Barberton on a gentle walking route that takes you through the historic heart of the town. It winds past historic Edwardian, Victorian and art deco buildings. Museums, art galleries, arts & crafts shops, and coffee stops are all en route.
Outdoor adventure - The mountains here are covered by both forest and bush. There are many underground caves, waterfalls and streams. Spectacular panoramic views are a visual treat. It’s a hospitable area, allowing one to walk or ride on horseback. Those who prefer mechanical transport can choose mountain bike, quad bike or a 4x4. Birding routes are particularly rewarding. Paragliders and microlighters can go to Lone Tree Hill, regarded as one of the best launching places in South Africa.
Songimvelo - The 50 000ha Songimvelo contains the Makonjwa mountains. These are thought to be approximately 3,6 billion years old. They form some of the best examples of sedimentary rocks sequences in the world. The reserve also has lush grasslands. Stone Age cave paintings are a highlight of the reserve. These were painted by the San people who lived there at the time.
Matsamo Cultural Village - For a sense of Swazi culture, head for Matsamo Cultural Village near Jeppe’s Reef. It features folklore, dancing, drumming and art.
Boondocks Labyrinth - A New Age cultural encounter, the labyrinth at Boondocks is about 20km from town. It is set under huge trees on the banks of a river, and is a beautiful replica of the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France.