Saturday, April 27, 2024 - 00:00

The are 3 mines inside the heart of Simonsberg. In 1740 Frans Diederik Muller claimed to discover silver on the eastern slopes of Simonsberg situated in the Bang Hoek valley between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Simonsberg's highest peak is around 1400m above sea level, one of the most beautiful and scenic mountains in the Western Cape. By 1743 Muller was appointed ‘Bergmeester’ (master miner) demanding more labour and more funds to find silver, copper and gold.

Muller hired soldiers, sailors and slaves to help him mine. It is interesting to note that already back then dynamite was used. The Dutch East Indian company supported this project financially. Most coins at that time in Europe were made of silver. However, they did not find any silver in these mines. They smelted Rix dollars to keep investors interested. Some people record this as the earliest incident of white-collar crime in South Africa.

Five years after the commencement of the mining operations, the VOC became suspicious and had the silver analysed in Amsterdam. The VOC was furious to learn that the whole mining operation was in fact a scam. Muller was banished to Batavia, never to return. The mine was then abandoned around 1745, more than 250 years ago. 

The first two mines both consist of horizontal shafts with a few uncomplicated branches.The 3rd mine is the most challenging. The shafts include ladders constructed almost  300 years ago. They are however still in a good condition.

Most people will never visit this site, let alone be aware of it.

  • Date: 27 April 2024
  • RSVP: dhfheritage@gmail.com or Whatsapp: 072 753 0740)
  • Time: Meet at Strooidak church parking lot in Paarl at 08h15. Alternatively, let us know if you would like to meet at Boschendal farm.
  • Arrangements: Max 15 people. We require additional 4x4 vehicles. Please let us know if you can assist.
  • Cost: R150 for members / R200 for non-members (The cost includes R80 for the Boschendal permits)
  • This one is not for the faint hearted!

Some additional information on the walk:

  • We will depart in three/four vehicles from the parking lot next to the historical Boschendal werf, to take a challenging 4x4 route up the eastern slope of  Simonsberg.
  • From the parking lot on the mountain, it is around 200meters uphill to the mines. The terrain is challenging with high, uneven steps.
  • The first two mines are located close together on the footpath.
  • The mine shafts are all level inside with very few branches. The shafts are all in their original condition, i.e. no rock falls. While it is an easy walk inside, you might encounter a loose rock on the ground or a water puddle.
  • We will only visit the first two mines.

Essential to bring along:

  • Flashlight, preferably a headlamp
  • Water, fruit and some nuts
  • Comfortable hiking shoes
  • Hat and sunscreen


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