manocha-curnoe trip 2008 travel blog

the Big Hole







Today we did our last site-seeing in South Africa and drove 160km to Kimberley. Darren works at several sites just near here and so is a frequent visitor to this town.

Kimberley is the capital city of the Northern Cape Province and famous for the world's biggest man-made hole, the Open Mine, where diamond hunters worked their claims long ago. Apparently, “it is a city that's boasting with a rich history”. Not only is this the City of Diamonds, but it also played a big part during the Anglo Boer War of 1899 - 1902. Kimberley is often referred to as the Diamond City.

There is not much to see here.

Kimberley has the biggest man-made hole in the world - dug by picks, shovels and sheer determination- the Big Hole, which measures over a kilometre deep with a surface area of 17 hectares formed part of the diamond rush of the 1870s where men, with little more than man-made tools, managed to remove three tons of diamonds and 22,5 million tons of earth in the process. Today the hole is not as deep. Not only was it used as a receptacle in which to throw debris after it was abandoned, but ground water seeps into the hole leaving only 175 metres of the 215 metre depth visible. They also have a tour of a made-up diamond mine, which demonstrates the diamond recovery methods and displays real mining equipment. There is also an open-air museum depicting Kimberley in its Victorian heyday during the diamond rush. It incorporates shops and houses, a church, diggers' tavern, Barney Barnato's Boxing Academy, and the De Beers directors' private railway coach. The De Beers Hall has a display of uncut diamonds, stones of different colours and items of jewellery. Also on display area the "616" (616 carats) - the largest uncut diamond in the world, and the "Eureka" - the first diamond discovered in South Africa. See photos

We also visited William Humphrey's Art Gallery, which is apparently the only art gallery in South Africa to be awarded a Number One grading – whatever that means! But it is definitely much better than the art gallery in Bloemfontein.

We didn’t visit the museum, but Darren has been there several times before and says it is small with a focus on modern history.

2-3 kms out of Kimberley on the highway is a lake where hundreds of flamingos hang out. I would have thought it is an unusual spot, being next to the train track and not far from a major highway, but anyway they obviously like it. See photos.

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