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SAR Class NG G11 no. NG55 arriving at Ixopo station
SAR Class NG G11 no. NG55 arriving at Ixopo station
Ixopo is located in KwaZulu-Natal
Ixopo is located in South Africa
Ixopo is located in Africa
 Ixopo shown within KwaZulu-Natal
Coordinates: 30°09′26″S 30°03′53″E / 30.15722°S 30.06472°E / -30.15722; 30.06472Coordinates: 30°09′26″S 30°03′53″E / 30.15722°S 30.06472°E / -30.15722; 30.06472
Country South Africa
Province KwaZulu-Natal
District Harry Gwala
Municipality Ubuhlebezwe
 • Total 10.85 km2 (4.19 sq mi)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 12,461
 • Density 1,100/km2 (3,000/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)[1]
 • Black African 90.6%
 • Coloured 5.6%
 • Indian/Asian 1.9%
 • White 1.4%
 • Other 0.5%
First languages (2011)[1]
 • Zulu 74.8%
 • English 10.6%
 • Xhosa 7.6%
 • Sotho 2.2%
 • Other 4.8%
Postal code (street) 3276
PO box 3276
Area code 039

Ixopo is a town situated on a tributary of the Mkhomazi River along the R56 highway in the midlands of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and forms part of an important sugar farming, and forestry area.


Ixopo was formerly known as Stuartstown, was laid out in 1878 and named after M Stuart, Resident Magistrate of the Ixopo district, who was killed at the Battle of Ingogo in 1881.[2][3]:256 Its name is derived from the Zulu onomatopoeic word, eXobo, describing the sound made as cattle squelch through mud.[3]:256 The 'x', in Zulu, is pronounced as a lateral click).

Ixopo is most famously described by Alan Paton in the opening lines of Cry, The Beloved Country: "There is a lovely road which runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it."[3]:256

The town houses two schools including a high school with a large proportion of boarding pupils who live in surrounding villages (such as Bulwer, Underberg, Creighton) which are too small to justify the erection and staffing of a high school.

In the 1990s, before South Africa became completely democratic, Ixopo was the centre of a number of armed clashes between two political parties, the African National Congress and the Inkatha Freedom Party.

The Buddhist Retreat Centre, one of South Africa's major Buddhist centres is in Ixopo.

Until the mid-1980s, Ixopo was served by a railway station on the 610 mm (2 ft 0 in) narrow gauge Umzinto - Donnybrook narrow gauge railway.[3]:256

Patons Country Narrow Gauge Railway[edit]

In 2000 the former branch of the Umzinto - Donnybrook railway from Ixopo to Umzinkulu (Madonela) was reconstructed by Patons Country Narrow Gauge Railway (PCNGR).

As the line was partially lifted after closure in the 1980s, the track was in need of a complete rebuild.

PCNGR established its headquarters and northern terminus at Allwoodburn, formerly the livestock loading station for Ixopo, located on its eastern fringe

Gradually, a fleet of locomotives and rolling stock was acquired from various closed railways in Natal.

Patons Country Narrow Gauge Railway was also involved, for a period, in operating the Banana Express, which ran between Port Shepstone and Harding and ceased operations in 2006.

Locomotives used: NG G11 No. 55, two Avonside sugar cane locomotives and two 4 Cylinder Diesel Hunslet shunters


  1. ^ a b c d "Main Place Ixopo". Census 2011. 
  2. ^ "Dictionary of Southern African Place Names (Public Domain)". Human Science Research Council. p. 421. 
  3. ^ a b c d Conolly, Denis (1975). The Tourist in South Africa. Travel-Guide (PTY) LTD. ASIN B0000E7XZN. 

3. R56 information Route 56 - Ixopo