Landmarks and memorials
Paul Kruger Gate and Rangers Monument
Paul Kruger Gate, located at the Sabie River 12km from Skukuza Rest Camp, is one of the Kruger National Park’s busiest entrance gates.
The white bust of President Paul Kruger, the “founder” of the Kruger National Park, can be seen as you cross the Sabie River, when approaching the gate. The bust, by artist Coet Steynberg, was carved at Skukuza in the early 1970s from Paarl granite and moved to the gate.
The initial plan was for Steynberg to carve the bust out of a granite outcrop on the Skukuza/Malalane road, but fortunately the voice of conservationists was heard and sanity prevailed.
The Rangers Monument, unveiled on 31 July 2014, stands close to Kruger’s bust and acknowledges the contribution of rangers towards conservation and honours those who have lost their lives in the line of duty. The monument includes part of a Leadwood stump, the epitomy of longevity, outlasting many challenges and a true icon of the Lowveld savanna.
Old Joe Statue
Situated at Patatanek on the N4 (Schoemanskloof) route between Machadodorp/eNtokozweni and Nelspruit/Mbombela, Old Joe is a familiar sight to visitors to the region. His look changes from time to time, to commemorate local events, and he is known to have been a cyclist, a Springbok rugby player, a rhino, an antelope and a Soccer World Cup supporter.
Joe is named after Johannes Antonie Barbas (1883-1974) who supervised the construction of the first proper road through Schoemanskloof in the 1920s. Apparently, workers discovered the rock, which bore a likeness to Barbas, and erected it alongside the road, painted it and named it “Joe”.
The plaque on the statue reads, “Joe was a colourful character renowned for his diverse and outstanding human relations.”
Over the years “Joe” has been moved to allow for road upgrades, but has stood in its current position since 2001.
Barberton Makhonjwa Geotrail
The rugged Makhonjwa Mountains are perhaps the most complete portrait of the Earth approximately 3.2 to 3.5 billion years ago.
The geotrail tells an astonishing story of the Earth soon after it had cooled sufficiently to have a crust and liquid water, but an Earth unrecognisable to us – wholly different to the blue planet we inhabit today.
Striking and informative roadside panels have been installed along the 40km tarred road between Barberton and Swaziland. A dozen attractively landscaped geological laybys and viewpoints have been built, illustrating how the earth evolved from a lifeless, hot steaming planet, to having an environment that supports life.
The geotrail provides visitors of all ages with an enjoyable and educational outdoor experience, guaranteed to provide new and fascinating insights into how life on Earth began.
Samora Machel Monument
On 19 October 1986, the aircraft carrying Mozambican President Samora Machel crashed at Mbuzini in the Lebombo Mountains, close to the Mozambique and Swaziland borders. To this day theories abound regarding the cause of the crash, notwithstanding the commission of enquiry finding it to be the fault of the Soviet flight crew.
A monument was erected at the crash site and officially unveiled by Nelson Mandela on 19 January 1999.
The monument, designed by Mozambican architect Jose Forjaz, comprises 35 steel tubes, symbolising the number of lives lost in the crash. The pillars cast long shadows over the base, while incisions in the pillars create eerie sounds when the wind blows through them.
The site was upgraded and a museum added, which was officially opened on 19 October 2009.
Nukain Mabuza’s Stone Garden
On the R38 to Low’s Creek (Barberton) and 8km south of Kaapmuiden is a derelict rural settlement with the mystical name Revolver Creek.
Nukain Mabuza lived in this community and turned his simple labourer’s home into a creative statement during the late 1960s and 70s.
The “garden” is filled with stones and boulders painted in a variety of patterns, with the most notable one a very large black and white striped boulder, named the Apex Boulder. Another interesting piece is the Altar and the Throne Boulder, where visitors were invited by Nukain to sit in the recessed stone seat and view the “garden” in its entirety.
In Nukain’s own words, “I have the most beautiful garden in the world. If I had enough paint I would paint the whole mountain.” The entrance to Barberton is decorated with replicas of these important works.
Alanglade House Museum
An absolute gem from the gold rush era, Alanglade House stands tall and proud on the northern outskirts of Pilgrim’s Rest.
Built in 1915 by Transvaal Gold Mining Estates, Alanglade House was the residence of the mine manager until 1972 when the last mine there closed. This stately, double-storey, period house is perfectly preserved and maintained in its authentic condition, right down to household furniture and fittings.
The house is furnished as it was in the time that the Barry family occupied it – the first occupants of the house. Notably, it was the first house in Pilgrim’s Rest to have a flush toilet! Clothes and household items from the Barry family can be found in the closets and on the tables in Alanglade House, making a tour to this museum an eerie but realistic journey back in time. Tours can be booked through the Pilgrim’s Rest Information Centre.
For many years the painted silo, located on the N4 at the Kaapmuiden turnoff to Barberton, has been a welcoming beacon for locals and tourists alike.
The 252 square metre silo is 17.4 metres tall and 13 metres in diameter, making it the official icon of the Nkomazi region. Once used for the storage of animal feed, it was abandoned and became derelict when farmers planted crops, mainly sugar cane, as opposed to raising livestock.
The silo’s new look was completed and unveiled in 2003. Well-known and eccentric artist Johan Daffue, with the technical assistance of interior architect Brendon Panas, painted the colourful African landscape of a family of friendly giraffes. They did this standing on scaffolding, at a dizzying 17.4 metres high!
Daffue nearly stopped traffic at the time as passers-by (particularly the ladies) slowed to steal a glance at the man with the long blonde hair and tanned, muscled body.
Jock of the Bushveld Statue: Barberton
Most know the real-life story of the famous dog, Jock of the Bushveld, who is renowned in the Kruger Lowveld region as Percy Fitzpatrick’s loyal and faithful Staffordshire bull terrier.
Located in front of the Town Hall in Barberton, the Jock of the Bushveld statue, by Ivan Mitford-Barberton, was moved to its present position during Barberton’s Centenary in 1984.
Fitzpatrick and Jock travelled all over the Lowveld together in the 1880s and the strength and steadfastness of Jock is well captured in the statue. The artist knew his subject and the artwork is unique in style.
Fitzpatrick worked as a store-man, prospector’s assistant, journalist and ox-wagon transporter and during his intensive and dangerous travels, Jock was kicked in the head by a Kudu antelope, which caused deafness. He was later mistakenly shot as he was thought to be an intruder dog killing chickens.A sad ending to a brave and faithful dog.
JG Strijdom Tunnel
The Abel Erasmus Pass (on the R36) is a scenic mountain road that links the game reserves of Limpopo to the Blyde River Canyon.
The pass is an extraordinary feat of engineering that takes you through the landmark 133 metre JG Strijdom Tunnel, which was opened in 1959.
If you look up the northern side of the tunnel you will see an unusual tufa waterfall that plunges down the rock face. Tufa waterfalls are formed when water running over dolomite rocks absorbs calcium and deposits rock formations as layers of tufa on the surface of the waterfall – a process that occurs over millions of years.
The waterfall continues to flow underneath a hard outer shell. Parking places are available on either side of the tunnel, allowing visitors to stop and browse through curios, arts and crafts, or to take photographs of the impressive surrounding landscape.
Long Tom Cannon
The replica of the Long Tom Cannon stands on the R37, 22km from Sabie and 34km from Lydenburg/Mashishing.
Known as the Creusot Cannon, but nicknamed the Long Tom Cannon by the British because of its long barrel, these cannons could shoot a shell of just over 40kg some 9kms. The monument site marks the spot where, from 8 to 11 September 1900, two of these cannons were used for the last time by the Boer Commandos against the British army in the South African War (1899 – 1902).
The Boers originally bought four of these cannons from the French company, Schneider & Co, and stationed them at four forts around Pretoria. They were then transferred to various other locations and were later successfully brought to the Eastern Transvaal in August 1900. The cannons were later destroyed by the Boers when they ran out of ammunition.