There is something to be said about small towns. I have always thought that living in a small town would be superb. I have even thought of packing up everything to go live in a small town where I can teach Pilates and yoga and spend hours crafting, gardening and drinking copious cups of coffee. Unfortunately we all live in the real world – here's my trip through Pilgrims Rest and my glorious moments of nostalgia.
After a really long drive we finally made it to Sabie. We stayed at a lovely self catering apartment with a great view of the resturants and shops below.
The following morning we awoke to beautiful sunshine weather, perfect for our day of exploring. We stopped for breakfast before heading out on our mini adventure.
First stop: Sabie falls
Sabie Falls is situated on route R352 to Graskop and pretty much walking distance from the centre of town. If you aren't a thrill seeking adventurer like myself you would probably drive right past without even noticing, as Sabie Falls is popular to all who would like to bungee or swing off the bridge that crosses the river below.
En route to Graskop we stopped at Mac Mac Falls which is one sight I don't think anyone could grow tired of seeing. The Mac Mac Falls is about 13km from Graskop. It's incredible that the landscape gives no clues to any waterfalls, its just flat area with a few hills and valleys. As you enter the gates we were met by very friendly locals selling everything from bracelets and earrings to handmade stone ornaments and wood stulptures. As I am always a keen market explorer it wasn't long before we made a few purchases.
When we had finally made it to Pilgrims Rest it was already lunch time. We stopped at a local pub and had Cornish pasties and beers. I had a great time wandering through the small town, and when I say small I really mean it. The town of Pilgrims Rest literally is only one street with houses on either side. We have been to Pilgrims Rest before and went on a ghost tour as legend says that this small town has strange phenomena going on. No wonder its called a “ghost” town. Although the town is quaint and truly ancient it really does have a spooky almost ghost like feeling, or maybe it's just me, but I couldn't help but think of what Pilgrims Rest must have been like during the gold rush of the late 1800 and 1900's. It is almost like you step back in time.
This picture is of one of the houses that was turned into a house museum. Inside you can find all the remnants of the average family living in Pilgrims Rest during the gold rush of the 1900's. These houses are made out of corrugated iron and apparently were shipped in complete sheets that could be constructed into a house.
The town has a general dealer, post office and 4 churches to name but a few.
There is The Royal Hotel which still takes reservations. This picture is of me in the hotel lobby.
As the sun started to set we took a drive up to the old cemetary which is set on a hill.
They say when news broke that gold had been found, people flocked from all over to prospect for gold and state their claim. Many didn't even complete the journey and those who did often died from outbreaks of flu. People spent all they money and wealth on the journey to Pilgrims Rest and often ended up not finding any gold at all. With no way to leave and no money for them to live, these people died here in Pilgrims Rest; legend has it that it's for this reason it's called Pilgrims Rest. It puts things into perspective has to how hard times were then. Many graves are unmarked – I can only imagine they are people no one knew.
There is one grave that stands out from all the rest. The robbers grave. It's believed that this man was shot after he stole from someone else and where he fell he was buried. His grave faces north to south instead of east to west, forever marking him a criminal.
On Sunday we slowly made our way back home, this time stopping in White River just outside Nelspruit. In White River there is a awesome shopping centre which is situated on either side of the main road. It's called Casterbridge; here you can find beautifully kept gardens, resturants and independent stores selling art, furniture, food, wine and clothes.
This is a local winery that produces wine from oranges instead of grapes.
After we had looked at all the shops and eaten our breakfast we finally made the long journey home. I had a wonderful time in Sabie, White River, Graskop and Pilgrims Rest. It's wonderful that here in South Africa you really don't have to
look drive far to find wonderful scenes of nature and culture. It's been a great mini break and I am looking so forward to the next one.
P.S. look out for my post about the ghost tour in Pilgrims Rest.