In former years herds of blesbok, gnu, springbok and other plains game congregated in the area of Vredefort and hunting was a major occupation of the first settlers.
The animals have long since vanished but the area is still a resting place for vast flocks of birds during the course of their seasonal flights.
A town was established in 1876 on the farm Vredefort ('peaceful fort') by its owner in thanksgiving for the peaceful end in 1857 of a threatened war between the republics of the then Orange Free State and Transvaal.
The district produces maize, sunflowers, sorghum, groundnuts and cattle.
In 1886 gold was found near the town and for some years the Vredefort gold fields attracted considerable attention. However, the gold did not prove payable.
A curious geological feature in the district is an exposure of ancient granite emerging through thick layers of Karoo sediments. Known to geologists as the Vredefort Dome, this island-like dome of granite is surrounded by quartzites of the Witwatersrand system and is being developed into a huge tourist attraction.
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