Marizka Coetzer
Journalist
3 minute read
10 Dec 2021
5:00 am

Voortrekker Monument: Youngsters to enjoy historic trail garden

Marizka Coetzer

The monument on Thursday launched its interactive Historic Trek Trail Garden, after a facelift to restore it to its former glory.

The Voortrekker monument is seen behind the Drakensberg mountains during the launch of the Historic Trek Garden at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, 9 December 2021. The garden is modelled to the shape of South Africa with relation to the Great Trek and has various diaramas of pivotal points and events that occured during this time. Picture: Neil McCartney

A facelift for the Voortrekker Monument garden turned into a trail down memory lane and a piece of history for future generations.

The monument on Thursday launched its interactive Historic Trek Trail Garden, after a facelift to restore it to its former glory.

“There has been hard work done over the past few months to revive this garden to its former glory,” said monument spokesperson Gerhard Pretorius.

The garden consists of five trekking routes from the Great Trek, from the Voortrekkers Piet Retief, Piet Uys, Louis Trichardt, Gerrit Maritz and Hendrik Potgieter.

Lara Oosthuyzen looks into the windows of the Church of the Vow in Pietermaritzburg during the launch of the Historic Trek Garden at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, 9 December 2021. The garden is modelled to the shape of South Africa with relation to the Great Trek and has various dioramas of pivotal points and events that occured during this time. Picture: Neil McCartney
Lara Oosthuyzen looks into the windows of the Church of the Vow in Pietermaritzburg during the launch of the Historic Trek Garden at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, 9 December 2021. The garden is modelled to the shape of South Africa with relation to the Great Trek and has various dioramas of pivotal points and events that occurred during this time. Picture: Neil McCartney

“The garden will also be the largest interactive board game in the Southern Hemisphere where people can trek through the trails with small ox carts and learn more about the pioneers of that time,” Pretorius said.

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The garden also boasts seven replicas by artist Jaco van Niekerk of various monuments commemorating important events during the Great Trek, including the Vegkop, Bloukrans, the Bible monument, the Vow Church, Retief-stone, and Ohrigstad Fort

The garden has an interactive learning route where visitors follow a map game to collect clues in form of words, while they explore and learn about the five leaders, set out in five routes from the Louis Trichardt route, Pieter Uys
route, Piet Retief route, Hendrik Potgieter route, and Gerrit Maritz route from Cape Town over
the koppie resembling the Drakensberg mountain.

Lara Oosthuyzen, 11, visited the garden with her father on opening day. “It was really fun to run around here and explore.”

She said she loved the replica of the Vow church. “I really liked the small chairs inside the church and the tiny plants.”

Visitors trek up through the Drakensburg during the launch of the Historic Trek Garden at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, 9 December 2021. The garden is modelled to the shape of South Africa with relation to the Great Trek and has various diaramas of pivotal points and events that occured during this time. Picture: Neil McCartney
Visitors trek up through the Drakensburg during the launch of the Historic Trek Garden at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, 9 December 2021. The garden is modelled to the shape of South Africa with relation to the Great Trek and has various dioramas of pivotal points and events that occurred during this time. Picture: Neil McCartney

The seven replicas include the barefoot woman made by artist Anton van Wouw of Susanna Smit who argued with British commissioner Henry Cloete and said she would rather cross the Drakensberg barefoot before serving under British control.

Professional natural scientist, botanist and environmental consultant Priscilla Swartz said she was excited to see what the garden will become.

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“I think it’s fantastic; it is full of surprises. It has only been three months but there is still a lot of work in terms of the
plants,” she said.

The monument’s managing director, Dr Danie Langer, said they took on an enormous project on the east side of the monument by restoring the five Voortrekker routes laid out there in the ’50s.

“The public, and especially the young, are going to enjoy the historic home so much.

“The sculpture of the Bible monument is really special,” said Langer.

A replica Zulu hut depicting Umgungundlovo (Dingaans home) during the launch of the Historic Trek Garden at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, 9 December 2021. The garden is modelled to the shape of South Africa with relation to the Great Trek and has various diaramas of pivotal points and events that occured during this time. Picture: Neil McCartney
A replica Zulu hut depicting Umgungundlovo (Dingaans home) during the launch of the Historic Trek Garden at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, 9 December 2021. The garden is modelled to the shape of South Africa with relation to the Great Trek and has various dioramas of pivotal points and events that occurred during this time. Picture: Neil McCartney