Take a trip down memory lane
Your trip down memory lane will start from the moment you enter the historical Gold Reef City theme park at Crown Mines. Situated 8km from Johannesburg’s central business district, it’s located on the edge of one of the city’s oldest gold mines. All the buildings in the park have been recreated around the gold rush, which started in 1886 on the Witwatersrand.
Watch a movie
The hour-long, guided Heritage Tour will begin in Rich Beginnings, a movie theatre situated in the town square. Here you will watch a short movie about a young school boy named Veli. He takes a journey back into time when he meets an old gold prospector from the 1800s called Joe. It’s through Joe that Veli learns about the earliest days in Johannesburg, how gold was discovered and how the lives of men and women were shaped by the gold rush.
Travel underground and walk in tunnels
If your kids are over the age of 5, they’ll be allowed to travel down an old mine shaft into the depths of the earth to find out exactly where the gold can be found. After being issued with a hard hat and a headlight, they’ll experience the heart-stopping sensation of moving down below the surface in just a small cage. They’ll feel the cold air that blows through the dark, narrow tunnels and feel the layers of hard rock that hold the precious metal sought after by a generation of men and women. From the use of dynamite to break the rock and the role of coco pans, the tour guide will point out and explain just how the early mines worked. Your kids will get a better understanding of just how harrowing if must have been for the early miners working in sometimes very difficult and dangerous conditions.
Witness a gold pour
Back on the surface, the tour guide will take them to experience a breath-taking gold pour demonstration. The kids’ will be gob-smacked to find out how the gold is extracted from the rock and then melted down and poured into a mould to form a gold bar. No doubt they’ll be up for the challenge to try pick up a gold bar after the demo…
Pan for gold!
After the gold pour, the kids will be invited to search for specks of gold the way it used to be done at the gold panning station. The guide will show them how to pan the muddy water by hand and what to look out for. If they’re lucky, they may just discover something shiny in the dirt – experiencing the same euphoria of the fortunate prospectors of yesteryear.
Experience “ghosts” of the past
Finally, a trip through three museum houses will reveal what it was like to live as a mine official in the old days, how children were home schooled without the internet, and how families learned to live to “waste not, want not”.
Balance culture with fun!
After the tour, grab some food from one of the vendors in the Town Square and watch the amazing Gold Reef City Heritage dancers in action. If you’ve booked the Heritage Tour and Rides package, the kids will have access to 18 rides including popular thrill and major rides. For little ones, there’s also the Fun Train and Animal Farm, and the older kids might want to check out the cool, interactive Science Exploratory, too.
Where do we book?
Gold Reef City theme park is open Wednesday to Sunday and all public holidays from 9.30am to 5pm. It is open daily during Gauteng public school holidays, from 9.30am to 5pm.
Booking for the Heritage Tour is essential. For info on their special learner package deals and availability, contact the Heritage Department, Mondays to Fridays, on +27 11 248 6986 or email email@example.com.
Cost for the Heritage Tour only (no rides) is R100 per learner.
Content editor and writer on Living & Loving, Sonya has over 25 years experience in the media industry. She edited Living & Loving magazine for six-and-a-half years and is the former editor of Longevity magazine. She’s won numerous media industry awards and is passionate about the health and wellbeing of moms and children.
Outside of work, she enjoys trying out recipes, reading crime mysteries and thrillers, practicing yoga, and exploring new destinations.
Learn more about Sonya Naudé.