The town of Harrismith is situated in the Thabo Mofutsanyana region of the Free State Province, South Africa. Harrismith is a small, charming country Town which was founded in 1849, but discovered by tourists only recently. This town was laid out in 1849. It was then named after the British Governor- Sir Harry Smith who made efforts of convincing Voortrekkers not to leave the Natal Area (Cape colony). The town is currently an important crossroads in the Republic of South Africa proving important land trade routes. The town is situated midway between Durban to the Southeast and Johannesburg to the Northwest, about 300 km. it is located alongside the N3 highway, next to Wilge River.
Visitors remark on its cleanliness, and the friendliness of its inhabitants. Harrismith is the ideal destination to break a long trip, hold a conference or escape from the stresses of City living and recharge batteries in tranquil surroundings and excellent facilities.
Indulge in open air hobbies like birding, biking, 4x4, hiking, climbing, golfing, History, water sport and lots more. The Town is well known for its factory shops, gardens (both domestic and wild flower gardens), golf course (the oldest in South Africa) and links with the South African War, with close by Battle Sites, Blockhouses and a Military Cemetery. (There are also Boer, Brit and sandstone Architecture to be seen.)
Many Outdoor Activities can be partaken in such as: trout fishing, water sport on the Sterkfontein Dam (the third largest dam in South Africa), bird watching and visiting well stocked game farms. The Drakensberg range and Maluti Mountains provide a spectacular backdrop to Harrismith. Day visitors opportunities include: Royal Natal Park, the base of the Drakensberg Sentinel, Golden Gate Highlands National Park, Basotho Cultural Village, Boer War battlefields and hiking trails.
Suffice it to say that Harrismith has remained in obscurity pretty much until recently. Harrismith lies just off the N3, roughly 314 kilometres from Johannesburg and 315 kilometres from Durban, and the N5 from Bethlehem comes to an end in the middle of the Town, which serves as the centre of one of the five wool producing districts in the country. The Town Hall in Harrismith is a National Monument. It is a graceful sandstone and brick building built in 1907. This and the Harrismith Wildflower Gardens, founded in 1967 as a botanical garden, with some fine examples of the Drakensberg region’s flora and a wonderful picnic spot, are reason enough to visit Harrismith. The Town also serves as something of a gateway into the Drakensberg Mountains and people use Harrismith, to stock up on last minute items or to make speedy reconnaissance trips for dwindling supplies, whilst camping in the Berg.