The charming village of Cullinan has still retained much of its historic character as a mining village and even today the diamond mine is still in full use. The first miners’ houses, offices and churches were built in the early 1900’s with beautiful fencing, verandas and small gardens. The McHardy House was built in 1903 for the first manager of the mine. Until 1984 two McHardy daughters still lived in the house. After the daughters died, the house was renamed a museum, the furnishings have remained largely unchanged from 1903 (open daily, except Tuesday, from 10:00 to 15:00). The streets are bordered with beautiful oaks and Jacarandas (around October show this beautiful purple blossom). You will find Cullinan 30 kilometers east of Pretoria in the province of Gauteng.

Cullinan is known for the diamond mine and is named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, the owner of the mine in the early years. In 1905 the largest diamond in the world was found here: the Cullinan Diamand. This diamond was nearly 10 cm long, weighed 621 grams and was no less than 3106 carats. The then government of the Transvaal bought the diamond and gave it to King Edward VII as a gift. In 1908 the diamond was cut into pieces, the largest piece was called the Great Star of Africa and the second largest piece was the Lesser Star of Africa. The Star of Africa can still be found today in the crown jewels of the English Royal Family (in a scepter to be precise).

When you visit Cullinan, a tour of the mine should not be missing. The tours start at the information center / museum where a film is shown. Then the guide takes you across the mine site and to a museum where a replica of the Great Star of Africa can be seen to give you an idea of the size of this diamond. You will see a huge hole where excavations have been made (1000m by 50m and 450m deep), you can also go and see ‘The Big Hole’ yourself, access to the viewpoint is free. The normal tour (about 1.5 hours and around R 100 pp) will not take you underground. Those who have saved enough money can buy jewelery with diamonds at the end of the tour in the exclusive store / showroom.

The workers’ houses and former offices are now used as a shop, art gallery, antique shop or restaurant. You will also find a number of beautiful tea gardens where you can eat and drink. Are you traveling with children? At Harrie’s Pancakes you will find a huge variety of pancakes for young and old.

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