The town came by its unusual name by a convoluted route. Sir Harry Smith (Governor of the Cape) named it Aliwal to commemorate the famous battle in which he defeated the Sikhs of India in 1846.
It lies on a strategic ford on the Orange River which was used by the Bushmen and the Voortrekkers. This was upgraded with a pontoon in 1872.
The town developed simultaneously as a health resort and transport centre with the railway from East London reaching the town in 1885. This prompted rapid development as a commercial centre for the north-eastern region of the British colony.
The town is the centre of a prosperous farming community whose main products are wool, maize, wheat, beef and dairy.
The town’s principle assets are two popular hot mineral springs, which have extremely high concentrates of minerals and gases. The concentrate of gas is so high that the first restaurant built here was able to maintain its cooking fire from gas funnelled from the springs.
Aliwal North Activities:
Aliwal North Museum
Comprises two buildings: the old Dutch Reformed Church dating to 1864, and the library building in Smith Street dating to 1876.
Aliwal Spa Holiday Resort
A series of mineral springs producing water at a temperature of around 34C. The curative qualities of these water have led to facilities being built around these springs. The complex offers indoor and outdoor pools, accomodation, a caravan park, a conference centre and outdoor activities.
Buffelspruit Nature Reserve
A large reserve offering breathtaking scenery and thousands of antelope, the most common of which are kept here as breeding stock. Buffalo are plentiful on the reserve's sweeping grassland.
De Leon Park
The town's stately park in its main square, named after Juana Maria de los Dolores de Leon, wife of Sir Harry Smith.
Garden of Remembrance
A memorial to those who died in the Anglo-Boer War concentration camp in the town during that war. The area including a British blockhouse.
Historical Places & Buildings
Aliwal North is widely known for its examples of well-preserved old buildings and historical places.
A component of the Aliwal North Museum Complex, covering local history, with exhibits and colletion featuring many different themes.
San Rock Artwork
The many surrounding caves and rock shelters are troves of this fascinating Stone Age artwork.
Aliwal North Map: