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Derek Hanekom

Derek Hanekom

We’re spoilt for choice in this beautiful country when choosing where to holiday, says Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom. But for a day trip his gem is the former diamond-mining town of Cullinan

Derek-Hanekom-Cullinan-Parting-ShotPictures: Supplied

How to choose my favourite spot to get away from it all and unwind? Now there’s a tough one. In the first place we are really spoilt for choice in this country when it comes to spectacular destinations and, secondly, unlike many of my friends, I don’t own a holiday home in some quaint resort, nor is there any single place I visit repeatedly.

My wife Trish and I love holidaying anywhere at the seaside, and exploring fishing villages is also top of the list. Equally enticing are the mountains, rugged landscapes and unique wildlife experiences (and we certainly have a selection). What an enviable position I find myself in here, to be overwhelmed by front runners for the top spot.


So, instead, I’ll go for that very special escape, that easy hop away from the stress of city life where Trish and I can really relax in serene surroundings for a weekend or just a day. Our gem is Cullinan, once a diamond-mining town and now a haven for anyone wanting to soak up the charm of a bygone era. It’s on Pretoria’s doorstep and is just an hour’s drive from where we live in Johannesburg. Which leads me to confess that if I owned a Harley-Davidson I’d be sorely tempted to join the many bikers on their Sunday breakfast runs. Harley or not, the breakfasts I’ve had in Cullinan are among the very best in Gauteng.

Both of us are lovers of nature and history, which is why this little village is an ideal one-stop-shop for us. Here we are surrounded by bush and grassveld, and we delight in the variety of unusual birds that are attracted to the area. And then, in among colonial and mining-town architecture, we can absorb the fascinating history – there’s an underground tour of an operating mine, a mini-museum, and the Big Hole of Cullinan (yes, four times the size of Kimberley’s).

There are plenty of places to stay, restaurants, quirky art galleries and even spas – all situated along attractive shady avenues. Of course, we never forget to head for the Cockpit Brewhouse and round off our day with a good, unpretentious meal and a glass of great locally brewed beer.

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