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Heilbron, Northern Free State

Heilbron, Northern Free State, South Africa

Heilbron is a pretty agricultural town in the Northern Free State province of South Africa, about 30kms south of the Vaal Dam, with some beautiful old architecture and sculpture monuments. Heilbron means ‘fountain of blessings’, and the town is named after the fountain which is the source of the Renoster River, and which gave rise to the settlement.

Boer Settlers and local tribes fought bitterly over the area in the mid 1800’s before the Boer’s finally beat back the Ndebele and Zulu warriors and officially established Heilbron in 1890. Today it is a quiet town, surrounded by maize, wheat and sunflower fields, working and holiday farms, and game lodges, many situated on two conservancies established to preserve and restore the natural environment and heritage of the area, and which also constitute a major part of the tourism profile of Heilbron and the surrounding area.

The Ghoya Africa Conservancy and the Francolin Creek Conservancy both offer hiking trails, 4×4, mtb, horse riding, birding, fishing, game drives, accommodation and proxy wine cellars that sell Western Cape Wines and are part of the ‘Riemland Wine Route’.

Heilbron is an historic town with a pivotal place in Boer Settler and Boer War history, and there are several notable historical sites in and around Heilbron, including the Mother and Child Memorial to the 787 Boer women and children who died in the British concentration camp at Heilbron during the Anglo-Boer War. A large cemetery is a stark reminder of the tragedy and suffering of the time.

The Vegkop Battlefields Monument and Museum commemorates a particularly bloody battle between Boer Settlers and the Matabele tribe in 1836. Though one of many, the Boers suffered severe losses in the Vegkop battle.

Heilbron is the second town on the Riemland Route which runs between Sasolburg in the Vaal Triangle and Rosendal in the Eastern Free State. Learn more about the ‘Riemland’ at the Riemland Museum in Heilbron.


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