Dundee - Gateway to the Battlefields

Dundee - Gateway to the Battlefields

Dundee on the Northern slopes of the Biggarsberg is where KwaZulu Natals great coal mining industry originated.

The Dundee Coal Company was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1899, and Dundee soon emerged as a boomtown graced with stately homes and the first theatre north of Port Natal-Durban. Pioneer traders from the Indian sub-continent settled here during the following decade, when Dundee became the meeting place of seven roads into the hinterland and coast.

The area is home to a number of skilled crafts people. Pottery, wood work, hand knotted carpets, woven grass baskets, Zulu beadwork, are all produced here and artists and crafts people can be seen at work in their own environment.

Currently the main industry is agriculture. The main farming activity is cattle ranching and local livestock sales are among the most lucrative in KwaZulu Natal. Sheep, dairy and crop farming also form part of the agricultural enterprise.

Dundee was the scene of the first major engagement in the Anglo Boer War at Talana. Some of the other most famous battle sites in KwaZulu Natal can be visited near the town.


Talana Museum:
A splendid collection of Victorian edifices built on the site of the Anglo Boer Wars first battle. On display are some fascinating militaria plus sections devoted to coal mining, glass- and brick-making.

Thornley Farm:
During the Battle of Talana the headquaters, Boer hospital and mortuary of the Boers were located on the farm Thornley on the southern slopes of the Talana Hill. The buildings have been restored to their pristine condition.

MOTH museum:
In the Isandlwana Shellhole, housing an excellent collection of medals and weaponry from the Anglo Boer War.

Hikes and Trails:

The district is blessed with beauty and imbued with history. It is therefore best experienced on one of the many hikes and trails on offer.

Voortrekker-Zulu War Sites

Blood River Battlefield & Ncome Museum
16 December 1838. Voortrekkers defeated Zulu army. Replica bronze wagons set in laager on site. Off R33 between Dundee and Vryheid. Entrance fee payable. Interpretation Centre. Tea-room. Toilets. Open daily 08:00 to 17:00.
Tel: 034 632 1695

Anglo-Zulu War Sites
Isandlwana Battlefield
22 January 1879. British defeated by 24 000 Zulus. Cairns mark places where British soldiers fell and were later buried. Off R68 between Nqutu and Babanango. Entrance fee payable at Interpretation Centre for access to battlefield.
Open daily except Good Friday and Christmas 9:00 to 16:00. Toilets.
Tel: 034 271 0634

Fugitives' Drift
22 January 1879. Fugitives' Trail - route taken by survivors of Isandlwana. Crossed Buffalo River at Fugitives' Drift. Lts. Melvill and Coghill buried at drift. They attempted to save the Queen's Colours. From Rorke's Drift, follow signs. Open daily. On private property.
Tel: 034 271 8165

Rorke's Drift Battlefield
22-23 January 1879. About 100 British soldiers fought for 12 hours to repel 4 000 Zulus, earning 11 Victoria Crosses. Museum/Interpretation Centre. Toilets. Open daily, except Good Friday/Christmas 9:00-16:00. ELC Craft Centre
9:00-16:00, Sat. 10:00-15:00. Off R68 from Dundee to Nqutu.
Tel: 034-642 1687

Anglo-Boer War Sites

Talana Battlefield
20 October 1899. First battle between British and Boers. British wore khaki for first time in South Africa. Dundee defended mainly because coal-mine owners pressurised Natal government. Self-guided trail. Outside Dundee on road to Vryheid. Signposted. Toilets, Curio shop, Restaurant/tea garden. Entrance fee.
Open weekdays 08:00 to 16:30. Sat./Sun & Public Holidays 10:00 to 16:30.
Follow signs to battlefield. Open daily.
Tel: 034 212 2654

Helpmekaar Battlesite
13 May 1900. British forces broke through Boer line in Biggarsberg. Led to British recapturing Dundee. Remains of Boer fort on top of hill and British military cemetery (from Transvaal Warof Ind) behind police station. Open daily.
Tel: 034 212 2654
Dundee - Gateway to the Battlefields Dundee - Gateway to the Battlefields Dundee - Gateway to the Battlefields
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