Much more than just a Big Hole!
The Big Hole and Mine Museum is situated in Kimberley in the Northern Cape Province, South Africa.
The Big Hole is a far more interesting attraction than it sounds. It is an open-pit and underground mine, an entirely man-made structure and the largest hand-dug excavation in the world. The open pit was approximately 800 metres deep and the underground mine reached a depth of 1097 metres. Underground operations have now stopped and the mine received a huge upgrade to turn it into a tourist experience. Today, what remains is a massive crater, 214 metres deep with a surface area of 17 hectares and a perimeter of 1.6 km.
Now tourists can go underground in the recreation of a mine shaft of the period. Visitors can also meander through “Old Town”, an open air museum and discover period buildings that have been preserved or restored, one of which includes a church built in Europe and shipped to Kimberley. Other activities include a 20 minute movie on the introduction of diamonds to Kimberley, an exhibition centre, a viewing platform for a birds’ eye view of the hole and shops, restaurants and kids activities.
Monday to Sunday, 08h00 – 17h00
Closed on Christmas Day
Various admission fees are charged. Please contact the Museum directly to confirm pricing.
Kimberley experiences rainfall mainly in the summer months with the highest occurring in February and March.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 17˚C and 32˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 0˚C and 17˚C.
In 1866, Erasmus Jacobs found what he assumed was a shiny pebble on the banks of the Orange River. Later he sold it in London for £500 as it was discovered that it was a 21.25 carat diamond. After two more diamonds were found, the diamond rush began with thousands of miners arriving.
Mining commenced in 1871 and by the time mining ended in August 1914, the mine had yielded 2 722 kilograms of diamonds, extracted from 22.5 million tons of excavated earth.
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