Cullinan, situated 30 kilometres east of Pretoria, is a unique Victorian village – named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, it bears the distinction of being the site of discovery of the world’s largest diamond. Driving into the village, you pass part of the mining infrastructure, where visitors are able to book two- hour surface tours, or underground tours which take place twice a month. Like many small towns, the main street is exactly that – it is here where you will find most of the shopping and dining establishments. We visited on a Sunday when a local vintage car club had their vehicles on display, and this added to the historical air of the place. It actually reminded me a bit of Pilgrims Rest, mostly because of the architectural style. You could visit Cullinan for the day, as we did, or you could plan an overnight stay.
Where to stay
Cullinan Premier Hotel is great if you like more formal, established accommodation. Originally built in 1906, this restored hotel also offers a great dining experience with buffet lunches being served on a Sunday; alternatively pop into the Rose & Crown English-style pub for a pint.
Cullinan Premier Hotel; 1 Hotel Street; Cullinan; Gauteng. Call 012-7340059
JanHarmsgat se Agterplaas is probably the most well-known establishment in Cullinan. Not only do they offer quaint accommodation (rooms have names like Fansy Suite and Leka Room), they also accommodate corporate events, weddings, offer wonderful treatments at Zau spa, and if that weren’t enough, host local talent in their theatre. The quaintness of design and location are enough to make you want to stay longer. Venue and theatre www.janharmsgat.co.za; Guest house www.gastehys.co.za; Zauspa www.zauspa.co.za
Where to eat
I would recommend planning your trip so that you can get in an early lunch (and miss the weekend rush) and then do a walkabout afterwards.
Sir Thomas Cullinan Restaurant and Pub is popular with the Sunday Breakfast Run crowd, and is also suitable for family dining. Stop here for their Sunday buffet or pub lunch.
112 Oak Avenue; Cullinan (012) 734 1778
As Greek as it gets is a popular spot, and was our first choice for lunch – unfortunately my youngest was on the verge of collapse from hunger (her words, not mine) so we moved on to a quieter eatery. They have an extensive, traditional Greek menu, at relatively good prices; they have tables outside on a broad pavement and this is the place to sit and chill with some mezze and ouzo.
As Greek As It Gets; 86 Oak Avenue; Cullinan; Tel (012) 734 0707/083 632 5364
Take time to walk along the main road – it is dotted with arts and crafts, furniture and gift stores. Most have an eclectic mix of items so you are sure to find a gem or two.
Who should visit?
- Anyone looking for a break from the city
- Guests who want to see more than just the Apartheid Museum
- Anyone with an interest in history
Like many small towns, speed of service is not a priority – so if you are looking for Wimpy-style speed or are in a hurry, then come back when you have more time. Find a comfy place to sit, put your feet up and chill.
Other activities in the area
Friends of the rail have a route into Cullinan, and they have a number of Fun train and Santa train trips scheduled for the Festive Season. Book now to travel in style with steam www.friendsoftherail.com; Tel: 012-548-4090
Life Ballooning which operates on the route to Cullinan,offers a once in a lifetime experience, where you can relax and absorb the peaceful nature of the African cliffs and bush while brushing the trees with the balloon basket – this is air travel with a difference!Contact NellaSteyn Tel: 082 882 3771www.lifeballooning.co.za
Diamond XRanch is a little slice of the American West, offering Western style outrides on a ranch – you can even partake in activities like cattle drives, branding and tagging. After a day in the saddle have a meal and drink in the saloon. Accommodation facilities are also available. 079 495 1605 or 082 410 3180 www.diamondxranch.co.za