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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.
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For a more down to earth experience there are guest houses. Less expensive than hotels, they offer a more homey environment, as well as more privacy. Converted from a private house it’s a much gentler environment and for those with furry friends, there are also pet friendly options. They are usually well situated with shops and places of interest nearby. Being so small it offers a much more personal and intimate attention to it’s upkeep, leaving you with a more polished and homely experience.