The Big Hole Mine Museum
The Big Hole Mine Museum in Kimberley is a window back to a time when fortune seekers converged here to dig for diamonds. This mining museum recreates what the town must have looked like, while allowing visitors to admire a replica of the stone on which the country’s diamond wealth was founded.
The Big Hole Mine Museum offers a trip back in time to when diamonds were first found in Kimberley in the 1870s. In 1871 fortune seekers converged from all over the world and the grey, dusty air around the Kimberley camp was soon filled with the rocking of soil sifting cradles, metal clanging on rocks and honky-tonk.
In 1871 Cecil Rhodes arrives at the "New Rush" Camp. In no time the kopje had disappeared to be replaced by the famous Big Hole. The town was then a place of weather-discoloured tents and corrugated iron houses, interspersed with trading stores and many bars and brothels. But the surface and alluvial diamonds became harder and harder to find, forcing many diggers to leave.
In 1873 Barney Barnato arrives at "New Rush". This is also the year that "New Rush" becomes a town and is named Kimberley, after the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lord. Kimberley settled to become a respectable, elegant Victorian city.
It was not until 1888 that De Beers Consolidated Mines is formally incorporated, with Rhodes, Beit, Phillipson-Stow and Barnato as life governers.
A snippet of those early days has been captured by the Big Hole Mine Museum, with various displays and exhibitions detailing what life was like for the fortune-seekers who converged on the area hoping to strike it lucky.
There is a lookout point over the famous Big Hole at the museum. The hole itself is 225m deep with a surface area of 17ha and a perimeter of 1.6km. It ceased production on 14 August 1914 when the lower reaches were flooded.
The De Beers Hall in the grounds of this mining museum houses a display of jewellery and uncut diamonds, including a replica of the first Hopetown stone.
The Visitor Carpark is off the West Circular Road, on the opposite side of the road to the Big Hole - their is walk-through underpass that leads you to the Big Hole Mine Museum.