Why visit Kimberley’s Big Hole?

Look, I’m not going to give you the gushing tourism prose about the attractions of Kimberley as a city. Gravel Road Adventures is about Truth and Authenticity. The real experience. So, I’m sorry … Kimberley is a dump. There. I’ve said it. But if, as a traveller, you just happen to be passing through, what it does have is a very fine outdoor museum, the Big Hole (more shortly). Navigating your way round the city, however? It’s a chaotic mess that not even Garmin and StreetMaps could get right. Kimberley’s history is so tied up with Cecil John Rhodes (I know, not a good name to say out loud right now) that we were trying to find the Honoured Dead Memorial. At a five-road intersection, mind you; you’d think it would be easy. We drove around in circles, thwarted by dead ends, changed street names, permanent road blockages. We admitted defeat.

The irony of it … after our Big Hole visit, we were leaving town and there soared the great blocky monolith modelled after a Classical Olympian tomb in Sicily: the Honoured Dead Memorial, designed by Herbert Baker, requested by Rhodes. (No photo, sadly. We were in a hurry to get the hell out.)

As for the Big Hole? We were impressed. We loved it. The old steam engines and tractors; the little Noddy trains attached to ore-filled coco pans; the underground mine experience with its explosion and rumbles and flashes; the giant faceted sparklers in their glass cases in the permanently guarded Diamond Vault. And the well preserved Old Mining Town.

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