The tiny farming town of Hopetown lies at the edge of the Great Karoo on an arid slope leading down to the Orange River. The Bushmen called this The Great River, "Nu Gariep", as it carries 23% of the total water run-off of South Africa to the sea.
The town is known for discovering the first diamonds in the country, the Eureka and the Star of Africa, and thereby starting the tremendous “Diamond Fever”! Unfortunately, no more diamonds were ever found in Hopetown, but the town boomed. It became a vital stop and supplier to the Diamond Fields and local people were gainfully employed as transport riders.
Today, Hopetown serves the surrounding sheep, cattle, fruit, wheat and potato farms. It also offers tourists an incredible outdoor experience which includes bird-watching, hiking, white water rafting and game viewing. A few interesting historical attractions from San Rock Art and the Convicts Stone to the cut that was made with the Star of Africa on one of the windows of the building at 33 Church Street to prove its authenticity.
Hopetown has only one hotel in the town, other accommodation can be found in neighbouring towns.
Things to do and see
- Doornbult Concentration Camp Memorials
- Convict Stone
- Orange River Station Blockhouse
- 33 Church Street
- Old Wagon Bridge & Toll House
- Gazella Game Reserve
- Karoo Gariep Conservancy
Hopetown receives approximately 322 mm of rain annually with most of its annual rainfall during summer.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 13˚C and 33˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 0˚C and 22˚C.
Hopetown was founded in 1850, as a northern frontier town, by Sir Harry Smith. He extended the northern frontier of the Cape to the mighty Orange River and a handful of settlers populated the area by claiming land, by 1854 a rough frontier town had mushroomed up and a church had been built.
Hopetown was named after William Hope, Auditor-General and Secretary of the Cape Colony Government at the time.
Hopetown remained an isolated farming area until, in 1858, a 15-year old boy, Erasmus Jacobs, found the first diamond in South Africa. It was the 23,25 carat Eureka, and soon after its discovery, in 1869, a Griqua witchdoctor known as Booi picked up the 'Star of South Africa'. There was a rush to the Hopetown district, but diamonds proved maddeningly elusive and no major find was ever again made in the area.
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