AREA: Northern Cape
One of Kimberley’s major attractions, the Big Hole and Kimberley Mine Museum, was once a flat-topped hill and is now an awesome hole - the largest hand-dug excavation in the world - dug by picks, shovels and sheer determination, measuring 215 metres deep with a surface area of some 17 hectares and a perimeter of 1,6 km.
The Kimberley Mine site started on or about 16 July 1871 and by 14 August 1914 all mining activities ceased. By that time it had yielded 2 722 kilograms of diamonds extracted from 22,5 million tons of excavated earth. Today the Big Hole is surrounded by original old buildings from days gone by, relocated from their earlier sites to form a magnificent open air museum.
As such it take visitors back to the Kimberley of more than a hundred years ago. The museum boasts Kimberley’s oldest house (imported from England in 1877); ‘The Digger’s Rest’ (an old pub); Barney Barnato’s boxing academy; a tobacconist shop; a reconstruction of the De Beers’ homestead; a skittle alley; and mock diamond diggings. Opening hours 08:00 to 18:00.
Please note that the attractions surrounding the Big Hole are under extensive renovations. In the interest of safety the Big Hole area will be closed to visitors from the end of July 2006 to the end of November 2006.
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