What to do in Smithfield?

Guests often ask what there is to do in Smithfield and are surprised to discover that there are a variety of activities to keep them occupied in our historical town.

History

Smithfield is the third oldest town in the Free State and there is plenty of interest for history buffs, such as the Caledon River Museum and the historical cemetery where Rose Roberts, an Irish woman, with a harp and shamrocks on her gravestone, is buried. What was she doing in Smithfield in 1878 when she died, so far from home?

Sport

For sports enthusiasts there is golf, tennis and bowls on the well-kept bowling green. The golf course celebrated its 100th birthday recently and has featured on Pitch and Putter. A round of golf in Smithfield will cost you a fraction of what you would pay in the cities.

Outdoor activities

There are walks and a trail up the koppie with much of interest along the way – some rock art, Boer War graffiti and indigenous fauna and flora.


Birdwatchers may be lucky enough to spot the African Harrier Hawks (formerly called gymnogenes) and Pale Chanting Goshawks that circle the village in search of prey. The shy Bokmakierie can often be heard calling early in the morning and several species of sunbirds, including the emerald green malachite, frequent the garden especially in summer when the agapanthus and tecoma grandiflora are in bloom.

In the district is Patria farm where sheep are milked to produce traditional sheep’s milk cheeses under the label Ovis Angelica. Visits to this fascinating farm can be arranged.

The clear skies at night offer stargazers an unforgettable experience.


The Smithfield dam is home to a large variety of waterfowl including the occasional flock of flamingoes.

Shopping

Nearby there is an interesting second-hand book shop and a few local art galleries.

“The Vintage Shop” sells antiques and collectables from a very old building that is positioned at the entrance into the village.

There is a 24-hour garage with breakdown service and a garage shop selling cooldrinks, chips and magazines.

ATMs for most banks are available in town, although some of them are mini-ATMs. ABSA and Standard Bank have full ATMs.

There are several well-stocked supermarkets in town, where travellers will find most of their requirements.

Eating out

There are three restaurants in town. Buckleys, one of the restaurants, often hosts events such as art exhibitions, South African singers and an October Fest. Set in a pretty garden, there is a ladies’ bar, a deck as well as an inside dining room. Buckleys is known for its tasty burgers and pizzas as well as other meals. If you don’t feel like going out, they will make you a takeaway. Buckleys is fully licensed.

Nick’s Place serves a large selection of reasonably priced home cooked meals, including pizzas, fish and chips and steaks and in winter, delicious curries. Guests enjoy sitting on the stoep but there is also seating inside. If you don’t feel like going out, they will make you a takeaway. Nick’s Place is fully licensed.

At the Laughing Likkewaan the menu depends on what the chef prepares on the day. Very often the food has a Mediterranean flavour but they make dishes from all around the world. Their creative ice creams are their speciality. The Laughing Likkewaan is not licensed but you are welcome to take your own drinks.

Letsatsi Game Lodge is renowned for its mouth-watering culinary creations with traditional ethnic elements all prepared in their new Busch Restaurant in the Busch Camp. Experience this unique restaurant with fantastic food in the bush. The lodge is 26km away from Smithfield on the Bethulie Road (www.letsatsigamelodge.com)
Wilgers Kafee provides good takeaway food until about 19:00 as well as fruit and other typical convenience store stock.

Platteland Preview



In winter Smithfield celebrates the Platteland Preview. At the heart of this annual fest you’ll find artists taking their fringe drama productions to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. Smithfield invites the artisits to showcase their work here en route as a final rehearsal and the Platteland Preview is the result: a feast of drama, music, comedy, dance, poetry and visual art.

Other areas of interest - Bethulie (70km from Smithfield)

Bethulie Kamp Kerkhof/ Buthulie Concentration Camp Cemetery
This site is a sad commemoration of what was the largest of the camps used by the British in the Anglo-Boer War. (1899 to 1902). As there was a possibility that the area where the Original Concentration Camp Area was located would be flooded as a result of the construction of Lake Gariep, a decision was taken to exhume, move and rebury 1 737 people to the present graveyard location, 3km from town - the original cairn and two monuments can still be seen. Ex-State President CR Swart unveiled the new Concentration Camp Graveyard in October 1996.

The Danie Steyn Bridge
This is a beautiful sandstone bridge near the town, spanning the Orange River at Bethulie, connecting the Free State with the Eastern Cape. It is a combined road and rail bridge and the longest in the country (1,2km).

Dutch Reformed Church
This is a stately edifice, completed in 1887 - now a national monument. This is located in the centre of Bethulie.
Graves of Pellisier Family (of whom five (5) children were buried there), are in the grounds of the Pellisier House Museum. The Rev Jean Pellisier (who died in Bethulie in 1867) was the first French missionary stationed in the town. (Also see Pellisier House Museum).

Louw Wepener monument
Wepener, who led the Free State commandos in the second Basotho war, is honoured by this memorial which was erected on his farm [Constantia] – 10 km north of the town on the Springfontein Road (R715). Wepener was killed while storming the Basotho mountain stronghold of Thaba Bosiu.

Eating Out in Gariep Dam: Dine at the De Stijl Gariep Hotel (120km)
De Stijl is proudly Karoo. They use Karoo produce where possible - organic, fresh and local is what they believe in. This belief is what makes their food unique and as tasty and as special as it is. The chefs are passionate about the area and are always on the look out for new ideas and ingredients, so relax, join them on a journey through the Karoo and the best it has to offer.
Day visitors, if you wish to enjoy a meal at De Stijl, please book in advance so that you are not disappointed.