Anglo Boer War:
The friction between the local “Boere” and the “Uitlanders”, inevitably and unfortunately, gave way to war. Much of the second, guerrilla warfare phase of the war, from 1900 onwards, took place in this part of the country. Later, a war within a war developed between General Louis Botha and Sir Redvers Buller, as the “Rooinek” became obsessed with capturing the “Boer”. On a number of occasions Botha positioned his Longtom canons on the Paardeplaats hills across our valley, and overlooking Lydenburg, and bombarded the British in their Lydenburg cocoon, to escape long before the British could even get close to him. This drove Buller mad! The Longtom Pass gets its name from the Boer canons. There are still several forts and sentry posts on the surrounding hills, and also along the old wagon road which traverses the farm – some even, still, with “gun slots”.
This beautiful jewel was rediscovered in 1979 by two adventurous hikers – attorney, Jaap van Proosdij, who bought the farm in 1979, and his intrepid nephew, engineer, and nature lover, Johan Middelberg. They discovered the miners’ ruins, overgrown with huge wattle trees, and decided to restore them into a weekend getaway. Jaap planted all the white stinkwoods, with seedlings from his Pretoria garden in about 1980.
Tragically Johan was killed in a motor accident in 1987.
The photo albums on the bookshelf in the “Miners Canteen” record this period of the Paardeplaats’ story.
As a matter of interest, Paardeplaats was proclaimed as a Nature Reserve, on 11 July 1956, to preserve the breading ground of the Gurneys Sugar Bird. The stone graffiti “Jesus” on the “Jesus Hill” was packed by a certain Mr. Reyneke in 1962, and it is worthy of comment that he set these letters out geometrically. They are all exactly the same size, all circles are true and all straights, parallel. Many people, over the years, have asked if they might paint them white, but Jaap van Proosdij always said he preferred them as Jesus made them!