MaCinJay’s Musings

another case of inverse vandalism

Posts Tagged ‘Northern Cape

The Big Hole

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On Saturday we drove with Chantelle’s family to visit her sister Tanya who is working as an au pair in the Northern Cape city of Kimberley. Last time I saw the place was about seventeen years ago when I paid a visit to my best mate Alastair who did his national service there. It didn’t make much of an impression on me then but this time I was pleasantly surprised. The city seemed a lot cleaner than Johannesburg and it was nice not to be bombarded by a legion of beggars and hawkers at intersections, although I did notice that most of the houses had some sort of burglar proofing.

The city is of course renowned for “The Big Hole” that was carved out of the earth by diamond miners near the turn of the century. I never got the chance to see it during my previous visit, which never bothered me. Regardless of how big it is, how exciting can a hole in the ground be? But according to one local I spoke to De Beers has spent R20 million upgrading the site, which perked my interest.

On Sunday we paid a visit to the Hole and I was very impressed. The guided tour begins with a short film or docudrama about the origins of diamond mining in Kimberley that really brings the period to life. This is followed by a visit “underground” to see what an old diamond mine would have looked like. (I use the parentheses because you never actually go more than a few feet down, but the mock-up looks quite authentic all the same.) Then came an exhibit with a mural showing the history of the diamond trade and replicas of famous specimens like the Eureka. Finally we got to see some real diamonds that are secured in a walk-in vault.

After the tour we paid a visit to the Big Hole itself. I find that things made famous by their sheer scale are always smaller than expected and this was no exception – the Hole is little more than a large quarry with a pool of water in the middle. This was followed by a pleasant lunch at a restaurant set in an area designed to resemble Kimberley as it would have looked like during the period. (To be honest this area could use an overhaul, as the exhibits had a slightly ramshackle appearance.)

We then retired back to Tanya’s lodgings for the rest of the day and started the return leg of our journey this morning, arriving back in Johannesburg at about four. Not a short drive by any means, but it was amazing how well-behaved David was on the way there and the way back! It wasn’t all plain-sailing though; Chantelle and her other sister Natalie are sick with the ‘flu. I spoke to my mother who offered to take care of David tomorrow morning if Chantelle needs to see a doctor. Let’s hope it isn’t necessary.


Written by macinjay

September 24, 2007 at 8:27 pm