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  • Lisa Martus


Villagers from all over the country believe that THEIR town is the most charming and friendly in the land. And of course, in the case of Haenertsburg, it is absolutely true! How many other small towns boast such an eclectic mix of writers, conservationists, cheese-makers and beer-brewers? From your table at one of the eateries on the High Street, you might see the white-haired historian whizzing past on his bike or hear the Dowager Duchess of Atholl chatting to the producers of the tasty treats at the Morning Market. There goes author Reneilwe Malatji passing the Red Plate Restaurant, and here is octogenarian Mike Gardner stopping to look at George Ushamba’s colourful beaded wire animals outside the Foodzone grocery store.

The quaint hamlet of Haenertsburg not only has a rich history from its first intrepid inhabitants of woodcutters and fortune hunters in the early days of the gold rush, but is also surrounded by scenic beauty of the mountains on the edge of the Great Escarpment. The Haenertsburg Grassland Nature Reserve is part of the meandering Louis Chanquion trail following a lovely, winding route around the Village and the atmospheric Cemetery, where the earliest residents are buried, is a short walk straight uphill and has spectacular views over the town.

But there is so much in Haenertsburg and surrounds that makes it so popular for visitors - there is the Pennefather Complex, reflecting the town’s gold-mining heritage or the ‘Haenerts-burger’ at the Iron Crown Pub which gives you the modern-day flavour of the area in one mouthful. These local tasty treats can also be found at places like Stella's Farm Deli or the bustling home-industry of Magriets Fine Foods at the top of the hill. There’s an activity for everyone from shopping in the High Street to birding in Woodbush near the World’s Tallest Planted Tree or the Canopy Tour ziplines for the adventurous.

A great time to visit is over the weekend of Mina’s Neighbourhood Market at Zwakala Brewery or during one of the festivals when Haenertsburg pulls out all the stops to celebrate. Book an extra night or two for the Blueberry Festival in February or when the Haenertsburg Food & Wine Fair brings the Village to life over the May-day long weekend. In September, you can celebrate Spring on the Magoebaskloof Meander; the Heritage Day Art Fair or the celebrations at the famed Cheerio Gardens, bursting with blooms.

Despite being a small town, there are a huge variety of events and activities taking place all year round, so it is no surprise that Haenertsburg is in the running for the ‘Kwela Dorp van die Jaar 2022’. In this annual competition, Southern Africa’s top towns get the opportunity to show the country what and who makes their town special in the areas of culture, activities, landscape, tourism or heritage and thousands of viewers of M-Net’s Kwela are able to vote for their top town in nine regions.

According to their website, ‘when all of the favourite dorpies have been showcased on Kwêla, the public will be able to vote for the winning town from 18:00 on 17 July to 12:00 on 22 July with the winner to be announced on the show on 31 July 2022. Kwêla's Town of the Year will win an incredible 1 million Rands’ worth of marketing from kykNET. Homebrew Films, the producers of Kwêla, will make a 45-second advertisement about the town, which will be broadcast during kykNET's advertising time. There will also be a big KIA town of the year makietie (festival) in the winning town - music, food, fun and just a lot of that winning town spirit! Kwêla will be there again to film it, and it will be broadcast later this year’

Since there is no doubt that Haenertsburg should win the Kwêla Town of the Year competition, let’s start spreading the word to the large network of nature-lovers, fans of slow food, adventure-seekers and visitors who have become friends. The SMS voting line for the competition is 33157 (R1.50 per sms).

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