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Gauteng travellers on their annual sojourn to Durban and other seaside towns generally treat Harrismith as a convenient meal break and refuelling stop. And while the revenue gained is a boost for the town, the major attractions in Harrismith are passed largely unnoticed. Visitors who decide to stay a while longer are pleasantly surprised by the convivial inhabitants, the spotless streets and the historic gems scattered through the town.
Named after British governor Harry Smith, the town was established in 1849 at the foot of the Platberg Mountains where fresh water streams provided the town with water. Harrismith was later to become a British stronghold during the South African War thanks to its strategic position, and today it’s an important junction point linking Johannesburg, Durban and Bloemfontein via a major highway network.
Harrismith has become somewhat of an artist’s retreat and with this comes creative ideas, unusual shops and quirky but most interesting people.
Top 6 reasons to visit Harrismith
1. Take a drive through Harrismith to see the old sandstone town hall, the Deborah Retief Garden, war memorials and immaculate parks. On the outskirts of the town is the British-built blockhouse and military cemetery. Ask a local to point out the bush shed that once served as a hospital for lepers and black typhoid sufferers.
2. Enjoy a round of golf at the Harrismith Country Club that boasts a spectacular 18-hole parklands course designed way back in 1887. For non-golfers, the club has tennis and squash courts.
3. The Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve is popular for yachting, stunning sunsets over the water and catch-and-release fishing. The reserve offers the hiker dense forests, gorges and raptors on the steep cliffs high above.
4. Plentiful game fill the Platberg Mountain Reserve and visitors can expect to see zebra, springbuck and the blue wildebeest (gnu). Over 130 bird species are resident in the... Show more