Roodepoort is actually a city of its own, although it has now merged with the suburbs of Johannesburg to such a degree, there is barely a discernible line over which you cross, other than a sign on the side of the road indicating that you have now entered the valley. Roodepoort (meaning “red valley” in Afrikaans after the red soil found in this area) is now a mix of residential suburbs, agricultural holdings, mining in the south of Roodepoort and some commercial activity in the form of Westgate, Constantia, Laser Park and Clear Water Mall. The suburbs here have names like: Allen’s Nek; Fleurhof; Helderkruin; Florida; Honey Hills; Radiokop; Wilgeheuwel, and Little Falls, which used to be a waterfall way out of town, but has been absorbed into the incredible Residential sprawl that has enveloped almost every piece of available Land in Johannesburg. However, Little Falls, does lay claim to the only Epiphyllum Nursery in the Country.
The centre of Roodepoort is probably best avoided, although there are a few fine examples of historic buildings such as the Old House, on the Corner of 3rd Street and Boundary Road and the Old Municipal Offices, in Berlandina Street. Roodepoort is probably best known by Jo’burgers as Home to the Walter Sisulu Gardens, formerly the Wits Botanical Gardens and the City’s most famous botanical garden. It’s a hive of activity over weekends, and a beautiful way in which to get close to nature in the city. There is also Florida Lake, located in suburban Roodepoort, south of the railway line, Florida Lake boasts a Bird Sanctuary where a lake is home, to a host of Waterfowl that makes bird watching here, a delight. The Park also has a Putt-Putt Course, an Olympic-sized Swimming Pool (that recently underwent repairs) and an Adventure Park, for children. On Public Holidays the Place is usually buzzing. From the air, the Lake is a sizeable one, surrounded by large shady trees, and a spot where locals come to launch their Canoes and Sail Boats for relaxation, after which they Braai or Picnic around the Lake.
Florida Lake is flanked by Residential Properties to the North, and Park Land to both East and West. It serves as a Green Lung in a rather densely Built part of Johannesburg. Whilst it has not received any of the recent attention that other parks, like Diepsloot and Diepkloof Parks, have it nonetheless provides the neighbourhood of Florida with a green space that makes weekends that much more pleasant. The local Sea Scouts, for boys and girls, operates from Florida Lake Sea Scout Hall, use the Lake for sailing. As members of the World Organisation Scouting Movement, the aim is to develop young people through the medium of fun and activity, specifically Rowing, Canoeing, Sailing, Hiking, Camping, Orienteering etc.
The Old Gaol and Warder’s House, is situated in Seventh Avenue, Florida. It was Built in the 19th Century and is believed to be the only remaining government building, in Roodepoort. The Building currently Houses the Local Offices of; the Red Cross Society.
Roodepoort Town School in Rex Street, which was built in 1913 and is the oldest remaining school building in Roodepoort. The Old Municipal Offices and Roodepoort Town Hall, both situated in Berlandina Street. The Municipal Offices were Built in 1906, for the use of the Roodepoort-Maraisburg Municipality and were used until 1936. Simon Bekker laid the cornerstone for the Roodepoort Town Hall, in 1936 and the Building was built by Bennett and Company at a cost of £30 875. The Old House, in Delarey is a Council-Owned Property on the Corner of Boundary Road and Third Avenue. It dates back to the 20th Century and is one of the few remaining examples of the early Wood and Iron Structures. The Vlakfontein Monument was erected to commemorate the Jameson Raid of 1895/ 96, in which the Boer Commandos managed to prevent the Jameson’s invasion on 2 January 1896.
The Discoverer’s Memorial Hospital in Clarendon Drive, Hamberg, first opened its doors in 1932. The hospital was named in remembrance of the discovery of the Main Reef’s gold-bearing rocks and the sinking of the first mines in the Area. Kloofendal Nature Reserve is in Galena Avenue and was Declared a Protected Wilderness Area, in 1972. In 2004 the City, reintroduced small game such as mountain reedbuck, small antelopes, duikers and dassies into the park. It is also home to the Confidence Reef Mine where Fred and Harry Struben, first Discovered Gold, in 1884.
The Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden in Ruimsig, is one of eight Botanical Gardens, in South Africa. It covers almost 300 Hectares of ground with both landscape and natural veld areas. Witpoortjie Falls is situated in the Middle of the Gardens and has been a favourite Picnic Spot since the late 1800s.
No trip will be complete without visiting a Cemetery to pay homage to our Ancestors. Roodepoort has a few cemeteries with historical significance:
– The Weltevreden Family Cemetery is in Sterkbos Street, Roodepoort and has graves from as early as 1873. It represents the earliest known written Record of Roodepoort’s History.
– Other Cemeteries include the Juliwe (Horison), Florida, Hamburg and Maraisburg Cemeteries.