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Millwood Mine Walk

Currently closed until further notice due to fire damage in the area.

Have you ever wished you can go back in time? Here is the opportunity to do just that.

Take your headlamp, camera, some water and put on your boots and get ready to travel back in time…

Park your car at Mother Holly’s Tea Room and browse through the small gold mining museum before you embark on your journey. Incidentally this original building stands at the entrance to what was the Millwood Mining Village.

What have ostriches and gold in common? Nothing really. It’s just how it all started. While James Hooper was looking for gravel to promote his feathered friends’ digestion on the farm Karawater near Ruigtevlei, he did notice that a certain piece looked different. The town chemist, William Groom confirmed his suspicion that it was indeed gold, and it weighed 17 pennyweight.

The message that gold had been found in the forest of Millwood near Knysna spread far and fast. A town mushroomed almost within weeks. Six hotels, houses and shops sprung up and Millwood was vibrant with activity.

As you hike along the road check out street names like St Thomas Street and just try to imagine what life was like here in the 1800’s. Hundreds of aspirant fortune hunters flocked here to dig for gold and by May 1888 one thousand four hundred claims were being worked.

Be sure to turn around and stand in awe at the majestic mountains and the sea. Don’t forget about the floral kingdom and the many birds.

When you have walked for approximately 2.1km, be on the lookout for the wooden sign that reads “1km to mine and back”. Check out the beauty of the ferns in the dappled shade as you walk down this path. If you omit this loop you’ll miss out on the charm and mystique of exploring these defunct adits (mine entrance), but be aware that they are wet and slippery.

The waterfall is a perfect spot to have a break and a snack. Note the prospecting hole behind the waterfall.

Wandering along the rest of the route, you’ll come across the Bendigo mine named after the gold bearing Bendigo reef. It’s one of the very few old mines accessible by vehicle.

A must see is the shed with the recovered mining equipment. It is amazing to think that this heavy crusher, stamp battery, steam engine, boiler etc. was transported to the forest and erected there. Another attraction is the cocopan and its tracks.

But alas, not enough of the precious metal was recovered to sustain a town and its people. Within five years Millwood had become a ghost town. Disappointed diggers left and moved to Pilgrim’s Rest and Johannesburg where prospects were better.

When you visit Millwood now, after a century of inactivity, a mystical aura still seems to lurk there. People were born there, people died there and were buried there in the nearby cemetery which is worth a visit.

Distance: 5.6km, circular.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Managed by: SANParks

Permits/Costs: Permits obtainable from the Goudveld entrance gate at Bibby’s Hoek.

Contact number: 
Access Boom Number – 044 389 0252
Thesen Island Office – 044 302 5600

Directions: From Knysna take the N2 towards George, 8km out take the Rheenendal turnoff to the right. Follow this road for 12.6km and take the Bibby’s Hoek / Millwood Gold Fields turnoff to the right. Follow the Millwood directions to the Materolli Museum and Tea Garden, 11km.

Coordinates: S33 53.317 E22 59.738

Other: Take a torch or a headlamp to explore some of the smaller mines along the route, they are relatively safe but be careful. There is an optional guided tour in one of the big old mines that is not accessible to the public, inquire at the museum. Take a hat and sunscreen if it’s hot, most of the trail is open.

Please preserve our environment for our posterity by not littering.