Nelspruit

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Information provided by Hans Bornman from his unpublished book, Lowveld Tour Guide:

MATAFFIN

Station on Eastern Railway Line, on the farm Riverside, 5 km west of Nelspruit. The station was one of the original stations of the line. First known as Tomango, it had to be changed as this was the brand name of the products manufactured by H L Hall & Sons on their farm. It was then named after Mataffin (Matsafeni Mdluli) the brave Swazi who lived nearby with his ninety six wives. He left this area in 1891, after having a dispute with the Native Commissioner, Abel Erasmus, and was on his way to Mozambique when he was murdered by Nhliziyo Mdlovu near Pretoriuskop in the Kruger National Park. He was buried next to the Imagaroti Creek, south of Ship Mountain (Mhukweni).

Hugh Lanion Hall (1858-1940) established himself at Mataffin in 1890. Today Mataffin is the centre of the estate of H L Hall & Sons Limited and the fruit orchards are a familiar sight to all visitors to the Lowveld. The well groomed hedges have become the ‘Gateway to the Lowveld’.

 

NELSPRUIT

Capital of Mpumalanga Province, 19 km south-west of White River, 45 km north-west of Barberton and 61 km south-east of Sabie, at 25 28S, 30 58E. Named after the three Nel Brothers, Gert, Louis and Andries, who came down to the Lowveld during the winter months, at the end of the previous century, with their sheep and cattle from the Highveld. When the Eastern Railway Line was surveyed, the surveyors found the Nels in the area during April/May 1884 and named the creek and later the station after the three brothers. The first train arrived on 20 June 1892.

Nelspruit was proclaimed on 27 January 1905, administered by a Health Committee from 2 September 1912, by a village council from 20 December 1922 and by a municipality since 12 October 1940. The Nel brothers, and their wives, were re-buried in Nelspruit during the town’s 75th anniversary of proclamation. The anniversary celebration took place on 27 August 1980, and was attended by the surviving members of the Nel family.

Nelspruit is a leading centre for the production of citrus and sub-tropical crops. The Institute for Tropical and Subtropical Crops is situated just north of the town, and provides valuable information to the Lowveld Farmers.

 

PLACES OF INTEREST

 

Botanical Gardens Lowveld

Regional botanical garden, 4 km north of Nelspruit, one of eight regional gardens in South Africa of the National Botanical Institute, with head office in Cape Town. The botanical garden was officially opened in September 1971 and is being developed on a 160 hectare site. The garden is being developed with a taxonomic (plant families) plan as the basis but with variations such as an ecological forest area and a dry garden. To date, in addition to the 700 species which occur here naturally, a further 1 500 species have been introduced into the garden. This comprises a total of over 10 000 plants introduced since work commenced in 1969. It is a popular tourist attraction and the interesting variety of plants enables Biology teachers from surrounding schools to illustrate their lessons with local flora. In addition to the garden there is a comprehensive Lowveld Herbarium. This is of great benefit to Botanists as well as to laymen and chemical companies.

The latest addition is an African rain forest. Trees from forests throughout Africa have been established along a section of the Crocodile River where plants from Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, Madagascar and other countries are developing into a real rain forest. An added attraction is a swamp forest in the making. Care should be taken as hippos wander through it occasionally.

 

Nelspruit Cascades.

Cascades in the Lowveld Botanical Gardens, 4 km north of Nelspruit, in the Crocodile River. The farm, on which the town of Nelspruit was founded, was leased to Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, author of the book Jock of the Bushveld, in 1890 for £12 per annum. He wanted to call the farm ‘the cascades’, after the waterfall in the Crocodile River. He could, however, not afford the annual rental and let it lapse. During the festival year in 1980, when Nelspruit celebrated its 75th proclaimed anniversary, this waterfall was officially named NELSPRUIT CASCADES/ NELSPRUIT WATERVAL on 3 October l980 by Prof Brian Rycroft, then director of the National Botanical Gardens. The plaque was unveiled by Dr Cecily Mackie Niven, daughter of Sir Percy Fitzpatrick.