Pilgrim’s Rest, Mpumalanga

Mining in Mpumalanga dates back centuries, when unknown miners worked quartz reefs in the area for gold.  Today you can still see proof of the diggings in this area.

The history of Pilgrim’s Rest goes back to 1873 when a miner, Alex Patterson, discovered gold on the farm Ponieskrantz. He kept the discovery secret but the inevitable happened when a second prospector William Trafford also discovered gold close by.  After their discovery became know it drew optimistic gold panners and prospectors from all over the country and world!

On 22nd September 1873 Pilgrim’s Rest was officially proclaimed a gold field and the scatter of tents and rudimentary shacks soon grew into a flourishing little village complete with brick houses, church, shops, canteens, a newspaper and the famous Royal Hotel.  The diggers called it Pilgrim’s Rest because here, at last, after so many false trails and faded dreams they had truly found their home. In time the alluvial deposits were dwindling and the locals turned to forestry, but their village, has been carefully preserved as a “living museum”.

Pilgrims Rest is an unspoiled gold mining village and national monument that definitely offers a unique experience.

There is so much to do in the village, from treasure hunting that could lead you to a gold dig where you can “stake your claim” and maybe strike it lucky or enjoy a street party.  For the not so fainthearted, you can enjoy Sherries in the graveyard.

Pilgrims Rest offers a nine hole golf course, horse riding, trout fishing, hiking trails, museums and curiosity shops.

Photo: Kyknoord

Our Readers Comments

  1. Good day
    Are there any places in Pilgrims Rest where I can Relic hunt? (Metal detecting with metal detector)

    Thanks and regards,


  2. Brummer Tours – Pilgrim’s Rest
    Speciality Tours 082 522 1958
    The Village Museums:
    1 hour tour
    • Dredzen Shop and House Museum:
    Dredzen Shop Museum is representative of the typical general dealer store during the period 1930 to 1950. The articles on display date from a period covering 20 years and were therefore not always simultaneously available. The home and life style of the post second World War years can be seen in the owner’s residence adjoining the shop.
    • The Miners House Museum:
    Built in 1913, this museum is an example of the wood and corrugated iron architecture which is typical of Pilgrim’s Rest. The museum has been furnished to epitomize a middle class home of the early 20th century in this area.
    • Central Garage:
    Built in 1926 as an agency for Chevrolet Motors. This agency provided services such as bus tours to the Kruger National Park, sold Pegasus petrol, rented vehicles and rendered a panel beating service. Vintage vehicles on display: Morris 1938, Dodge model 140 1928 6 cylinder, Bedford Truck 1940’s, Chevrolet, Sentinel 1928, open horse carts and more.
    • Pilgrim’s & Sabie News: Printing Museum:
    In 1910 the first issue of the “Pilgrim’s and Sabie News” was published and continued to be published until the mid 1940’s. Various printing presses, typewriters and other equipment are exhibited in this museum. The building was originally a house built before 1900.

    Ghost Tour
    – Please book half a day in advance –
    • Brummer Tours’ most popular tour!
    • This two hour tour is fun for everyone; even skeptics have all agreed that this tour is not to be missed and will meet adventure seekers expectations!
    • The first part of this eerie tour takes place at Alanglade House museum, as described below, with a fun twist!
    • Refreshments at the Historic Cemetery (also as described below) await those brave enough to take on the second part of the Ghost Tour. Paths and selected graves are lit with lanterns.
    • Legendary tales of adventure and tragedy are told by an experienced guide as selected graves are visited.

    Historic Cemetery (1873)
    • Home of the famous “Robbers Grave”
    • The different nationalities of people buried in the cemetery reflects the cosmopolitan character typical to Pilgrim’s Rest. Here lie Englishmen, Swedes, Australians, Welshmen, Afrikaners, Indians, Italians, Germans, Canadians and Tasmanians to name but a few.
    • Drowning, suicide, mining accidents, malaria (contracted in the lowveld), alcoholism, murder, snake bites, pneumonia and dysentery (especially among children) took its toll among the inhabitants of the Pilgrim’s Goldfields. The great flood of 1909 claimed the lives of at least 15 people and a large number of inhabitants succumbed to the influenza epidemic of 1918
    • The Cemetery is the last resting place of some of the remarkable pioneers of the South African gold saga. It remains a testament to those who came from many parts of the world to join the first major gold rush in this country.
    Here, on Cemetery Hill, they lie overlooking the beautiful Pilgrim’s Rest valley.

    Alanglade House Museum
    • Built in 1915/1916 to serve as the official mine manager’s residence, located just a few kilometers out of Pilgrim’s Rest.
    • Alanglade is furnished with objects from the period 1900 to 1930, using its first occupants, the Barry Family, and the Pilgrim’s Rest milieu as point of departure. The furnishings in this very large house are mostly of Edwardian Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau and Art Deco stylistic origins. The presence of a croquet lawn, tennis court, swimming pool and summer house is indicative of their love of sport and outdoor activities. Behind the house is a pet cemetery which reveals the families affection for animals and in particular dogs.
    The extensive collection of objects to be viewed at Alanglade is representative of the era the Barry family lived in and well worth viewing. Specialized guides are responsible for making a visit to Alanglade both an rewarding and fascinating experience

    Gold Panning
    • Gold panning as an activity for individuals or groups may be booked with Brummer Tours. This includes a demonstration and brief history of gold panning in Pilgrim’s Rest. Pan for your own gold and keep what you find. A memorable activity and great fun for the whole family!

    Hiking Trails
    • 12 Guided trails are available in and around the beautiful forests and surrounding mountains of Pilgrim’s Rest.
    • Hikes vary in intensity, novices welcome

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