Core Activity:Crafts; pubs; restaurants; scenery; shops; antiques; collectibles; information; holiday homes; retirement homes and birding.
Duration:Half day to one day
Budget:Restaurant prices depend on menu and budget, from home-cooked pub meals at about R40-00 per person to sophisticated a la carte with wine at R200-00 per person. Phone the restaurants in Van Reenen/Swinburne to enquire.
Driving: 10km on the N3 Toll Route between Swinburne and Van Reenen. About 40km if you take the scenic route.
When to Go:Year round.
Other:The Residential Developments www.highlandsfarmestate.co.za / www.sungazer-paradise.co.za in Van Reenen/Swinburne each offer a unique rural or village lifestyle. To appreciate what they offer, contact the developers in advance, arrange to visit them, and you will be shown around these estates in a leisurely and friendly manner.
Other Activities:Crafts; pubs; restaurants; scenery; shops; antiques; collectibles; information; holiday homes; retirement homes; birding.
Points Of Interest:Next to the N3 Toll Route: 3 to 4 km south of Harrismith:
• La La Nathi Coffee Shop, Pub and Restaurant. (Tel: 058 623 0282). On a farm next to the N3 Toll Route. Excellent breakfast, lunches and dinners. Walking around the extensive grounds you will probably encounter a few semi-tame springbok and other small antelope.
• Cyara Pub and Restaurant (Cell: 082 928 5360). Real country pub country cooking style on a farm next to the N3 Toll Route, not far from La La Nathi. This farm also has a number of wild antelope wandering around it. Talk to the owner, Ron, about them,
• Nutty Megs (Tel: 058 672 1033). In Swinburne Village next to the Riverview Country Inn, a shop full of collectables, second hand books, furniture and many other items. Alongside the shop is a nursery.
• Hound and Hare Pub and Restaurant (Tel: 058 672 1033). Part of the Riverview Country Inn. Friendly pub patronised by locals as well as drop-in visitors. Fine a la carte menu with daily pub specials. “All-day” breakfast. Wide screen TV for those all-important rugby or cricket matches.
• Dusa lo Frontier Trading Store and Information Centre (Tel: 058 672 1044 or 072 629 8694). The “Log Cabin” in the Montrose Country Highway complex on the N3 Toll Route near Swinburne village. Get tourism information here about the immediate area and also about all other regions of South Africa from an extensive range of tourism brochures. Shop for authentic African hand crafts, maps and selected outdoor and camping items. Open seven days a week 08h00 to 17h00.
• House of Coffees restaurant and the Wine Route shop (Tel: 058 672 1034). Also part of the Montrose Country Complex. The restaurant and the shop are uniquely combined. Browse through the shop while waiting for your meal. Excellent all-day breakfast and lunches are available. Open 06h00 to 18h00. The shop is filled with exotic and high quality confectionary, biltong, wine and collectables of all kinds.
• Yamaha Shop (Tel: 058 672 1034). Part of the Montrose Country Complex, it stocks a range of branded clothing (Yamaha, Fox and others) and Yamaha accessories.
Van Reenen Village:
• The Little Church and the Little Church Tea Garden (Cell: 072 156 1401). Smallest consecrated church in the world open for visiting and still used for weddings and other celebrations. The tea garden is next to the church, serves excellent breakfast from 09h00 and excellent home-cooked lunches. Browse the shop attached to the tea garden for collectables.
• Johnson’s Trading (Cell: 072 156 1401). A converted farm shed opposite the Caltex Garage on the turn-off into Van Reenen. It incorporates the Van Reenen Tourist Information Centre. The shop is filled with antiques and collectables and sells biltong, snacks, cool drinks, and homemade jams and preserves.
• The Green Lantern Inn (Tel: 058 671 0027). This historic hotel is more than 110 years old and is the centre point of Van Reenen Village. Its restaurant is fabled for its excellent menu, both a la carte and pub meals. Its pub is steeped in history as it was an officer’s mess during the South African (Boer) war. A favourite stop over for sports groups going between Johannesburg and Durban, especially “Comrades” runners.
• Bompas Trading Store (Cell 082 456 7387). Just down the road about 150 metres from the Green Lantern Inn. A typical small rural trading store with one very big difference; whilst you can buy mealie meal, sugar, tins of beans etc. and everything else that a rural trading store usually sells. At the same time browse through a fascinating range of antiques, collectables and other interesting items. You never know what you may find.
• Oaklands Country Manor (Cell: 079 529 2314). An Estate in the mountains about 7km from Van Reenen. Devoted to horses and polo, but you do not need to be a rider to appreciate its beautiful setting, or its outstanding food. It is essential to book for a meal in advance.
Visiting authentic antique and general shops, pubs and restaurants in the area. Scenic drive and Van Reenen/Swinburne home-hunting at local residential developments.
Take your own time to visit and browse through the shops. Pubs and restaurants are plentiful and each has its own unique character and ambience.
This route can be taken for an hour or two on the way to Johannesburg or Durban, but for maximum enjoyment, book in at one of the several accommodation venues in the area, stay for one or two nights and take a relaxing day to explore the route, and the shops and restaurants.
You will soon find that there is much more to this area than just its shops and restaurants, and you will want to return for a longer stay.