It all started in 1873 when gold was found near Sabie and a camp was set up called MacMac. Alec Patterson, one of the MacMac diggers, then moved on and found gold in the Pilgrims Creek. He was able to keep this news to himself for a while until someone went looking for gold and found it. It was then not long before there were more hijackers on the coast.
After the area was officially declared “Gold Field” on September 22, 1873, more than 1,500 gold diggers were at work shortly thereafter. There seemed to be no end to the gold, which led to more and more houses replacing the original tents. In 1881 a London financier came to grab the mining rights. Then the Transvaal Gold Exploration Company was founded, later Transvaal Gold Mining Estates. The revenue from the mines became less and less after the 1950s and after nearly 100 years the mine was closed in 1972.
Pilgrim’s Rest is now a National Monument. The buildings that are here are still in old condition and where necessary restored. Of the many buildings, only a few have been opened to tourists. In the information center you can buy an admission ticket that allows you to enter four museums. These are: The Garage (car museum), Dredzen Shop and House Museum (shop with house), the Victorian House Museum (Victorian house) and the Pilgrim’s and Sabie News Museum (old type and printing machines). Here you can get an impression of how people lived and lived there. Of course, the mine owner lived in a large stately home far enough away from the dusty mine.
On top of a hill lies Cemetery Hill, the burial place of Pilgrim’s Rest. Here you can find Robber’s Grave. The story at this grave is that here is an unknown man who was caught stealing the excavations from the tents. He received a trial and was subsequently banned. But the thief was still around because he was seen on top of the hill. He was shot and buried there. There are also many graves of which it is not known who is lying there. The gold diggers came from all over the world to try their luck here. In addition to the many mining accidents, many people also died from diseases such as pneumonia, dysentery (especially children), malaria, drowning and snake bites.
There are restaurants and terraces in the village where you can eat or drink something. At the beginning of the street are stalls where the locals sell souvenirs, nuts and all kinds of things.
Pilgrim’s Rest is 35 km north of Sabie on the R533.