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The industrial town of Vanderbijlpark lies on the banks of the Vaal River that separates the Gauteng Province from the Free State Province in South Africa. The town was first established to house workers of a large steel mill and laid out in a garden city fashion with provision made for the residents’ recreational needs. Over half a million trees were planted to counter pollution emanating from the mills.
Vanderbijlpark residents are a cosmopolitan bunch with many engineers sourced from countries around the world. The town has several schools, churches, parks, malls and a university campus.
Visitors are attracted to Vanderbijlpark through the water-related activities available along the Vaal River that is navigable for over 50km. On weekends, motor sports enthusiasts, fishermen and families arrive to enjoy what the river has to offer.
Top 8 reasons to visit Vanderbijlpark
1. Cruise the Vaal River on the Liquid Lounge double-deck river boat. The boat company offers 2-hour lunchtime cruises that include a meal and cash bar.
2. The Emerald Resort and Casino has a range of fun activities for the family: the casino has gaming tables, slot machines and a privé lounge, the Aqua-dome has a waterslide and heated pool and Animal World houses a variety of animals, birds and reptiles.
3. Horse racing meets take place every Wednesday and Saturday at the Vaal Turf Club just outside of Vanderbijlpark. Dress up and enjoy a day at the races.
4. Vanderbijlpark hosts several popular events through the year: the 3-day Rotary River Festival in March, the month-long Vaal Meander Wine Route in July, the Spring Beer Festival in August and the Vanderbijlpark Triathlon in November. The events are well attended by visitors from all parts of the country.
5. Not to be missed is a guided hike through the Vredefort Dome, a UNESCO World Heritage Site outside of the town of Parys. The crater was formed millions of years ago and your guide will take you past interesting war relics, mineshafts and a ladder climb up Devil’s Chimney. While there, a visit to Parys is an education in itself.
6. Consumers wanting choice and shopping convenience have access to the 125-store Vaal Mall or the smaller 40-store Riverside Vaal Mall, both located in Vanderbijlpark.
7. Golfers will find the 18-hole parkland course at Emfuleni Golf Estate both challenging and enjoyable. The course overlooks the Vaal River. Visiting golfers are welcome.
8. Ever tasted a potjie? The potjie (small pot) is a meal consisting of meat, vegetables, spices and ‘secret’ ingredients stewed in a cast iron pot over an open fire. The Vanderbijlpark Potjie and Mampoer Fees takes place annually and gives visitors the opportunity to sample a succulent potjie along with mampoer, a homemade spirit high in alcohol content.
Vanderbijlpark is 90km – via a toll road – from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. Chartered flights are available from the Vereeniging Airport, 25km out of town. Several car hire companies are based in in the town and OR Tambo airport or you could order a rental online. Taljaard Taxis operate a metered taxi service in Vanderbijlpark.
Did you know?
Other than the original outlying townships and smallholdings, the suburbs in Vanderbijlpark are nameless and are instead categorised into a location followed by a number, for example CW1 is Central West area number 1. SW5 is alongside the river and most sought after.
The Vaal River extends for 1120km from its source in the Mpumalanga Province east of the country, and through 3 other provinces on its journey west before emptying into the mighty Orange River in the Northern Cape.