Barberton, Mpumalanga

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Barberton is located in South Africa
 Barberton shown within South Africa
Coordinates: 25°47′10″S 31°3′11″E / 25.78611°S 31.05306°E / -25.78611; 31.05306Coordinates: 25°47′10″S 31°3′11″E / 25.78611°S 31.05306°E / -25.78611; 31.05306
Country South Africa
Province Mpumalanga
District Ehlanzeni
Municipality Umjindi
Established 1884[1]
 • Total 37.74 km2 (14.57 sq mi)
Population (2011)[2]
 • Total 11,997
 • Density 320/km2 (820/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)[2]
 • Black African 44.2%
 • Coloured 8.5%
 • Indian/Asian 4.9%
 • White 41.9%
 • Other 0.4%
First languages (2011)[2]
 • Afrikaans 47.9%
 • English 22.7%
 • Swazi 20.8%
 • Zulu 2.2%
 • Other 6.4%
Postal code (street) 1300
PO box 1300
Area code 013
Website [1]

Barberton is a town in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa, which has its origin in the 1880s gold rush in the region. It is situated in the De Kaap Valley and is fringed by the Makhonjwa Mountains. It is 43 kilometres (27 mi) south of Nelspruit and 360 kilometres (220 mi) to the east of Johannesburg.



The Barberton Mountain Range, 2001 image from NASA’s Landsat 7 satellite

The mountains around Barberton are amongst the oldest in the world dating back 3.5 Billion years, and these mountains include some of the oldest exposed rocks on the planet. These volcanic rocks, which scientists call the Barberton Greenstone Belt, have given up direct evidence of conditions of life on the surface of the very early earth.

In the satellite image, the bare rocks of mountain peaks appear as a pale gray-green, accentuated by the sharp relief of sunlit slopes and their shadows. Deeper shades of green indicate vegetation, including some vegetation on the lower slopes. In the mountain valleys, bright green areas suggest well-watered grassy areas and crops. Deeper green areas are probably forests. The series of bright green circles north of the town of Barberton result from center-pivot irrigation systems. The area north and west of Barberton appears slightly pale and fuzzy compared to the rest of this image, probably the result of low-lying haze.[3]

The first form of life on earth, a bacterial micro fossil Archaeospheroides barbertonis was discovered here and has been identified as being 3.2 billion years old.


19 June 1984, Participants in the Barberton Centenary Trek make their way through the Kaap Valley en route to Barberton for the 100 year celebration.

In 1881 gold in the Barberton area was discovered by Tom McLachlan who found alluvial gold at Jamestown. However due to the location (the hot lowveld region was rife with malaria) no-one wanted to go there until Auguste Roberts (French Bob) discovered gold in Concession Creek in 20 June 1883. This discovery resulted in a gold rush to the area.

On 21 June 1884, Graham Barber wrote a letter to the State Secretary to inform him that he and his two cousins Fred and Harry discovered payable gold on state land where the Umvoti Creek entered the De Kaap valley. The State Secretary then asked the Magistrate in Lydenburg to investigate the matter and for David Wilson, the Gold Commissioner, to submit a report. Wilson investigated on 24 July 1884 and declared the township of Barberton.

At first it was just a simple mining camp but grew when Edwin Bray, a prospector discovered gold in the hills above Barberton in 1885 and with 14 partners started the Sheba Reef Gold Mining Company.

Large amounts of money flowed into Barberton and the first Stock Exchange to operate in the then Transvaal opened its doors. More buildings were erected, billiard saloons and music halls established. The Criterion and Royal Standard hotels were opened.

Barberton flourished for only a brief period and soon the inhabitants began to move away to the newly discovered gold fields on the Reef.

Among the owners of mines in the Barberton area are Pan African Resources.[4]

Songimvelo Nature Reserve[edit]

This reserve is situated in the Barberton Mountain lands and is the Mpumalanga Parks Board's largest reserve, extending over 500 square kilometers.


The Barberton Daisy.
  • The British built a concentration camp here during the Boer War to house Boer women and children.
  • Sheba mine is today one of the oldest and richest working gold mines in the world, having been in production for more than a century. It is estimated that production will continue for several decades to come.
  • Barberton was home to Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, author of Jock of the Bushveld.
  • A flower, the Barberton Daisy (Gerbera jamesoni) was discovered here in 1889 by Robert Jameson.
  • Barberton (or, at least, a depiction of Barberton) is heavily featured in Bryce Courtenay's novel The Power of One, as the main character's hometown.
  • A character in the Sherlock Holmes adventure "“The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax” made his fortune in Barberton.


High Schools[edit]

  • Barberton High School
  • Emjindini High School
  • Chief Funwako High School
  • Kwamhola Secondary School
  • Barberton Secondary school

Primary Schools[edit]

  • Barberton Primary School
  • Ekucathuzeni Primary School
  • Ka-Mhola Primary School


See also[edit]


External links[edit]