Cullinan – off the beaten track

Brimming with imperishable charm, Cullinan, the quaint Edwardian village just east of Pretoria, has oodles to offer the weekend tourist.
Cullinan is an easy 90-minute drive from Joburg and about 45 minutes
from Pretoria. Take the N1 highway to Pietersburg. Continue past
Pretoria until you see the R515 offramp – take it. Go through the
tollgate towards Rayton/Cullinan. Then follow the signs to Cullinan.

By Kate Turner

EAT

Sit down to a scrumptious meze graze at As Greek as it Gets. A popular evergreen with locals and visitors alike, remember to book ahead. Order the saganaki – that’s crumbed feta topped with sour cherries. Delish! Call 083 632 5364 or visit asgreekasitgets.co.za.

Book for Sunday lunch at Albizia, about 15km from Cullinan in neighbouring Boekenhoutskloof. Lientjie Wessels conjures foodie alchemy, like sumac chicken breasts, pistachio dukkah and pea shoot and spekboom salad. Or whipped feta and preserved carrot salad served alongside a main of aged sirloin with flatbread and aubergine preserve… Food angels, is that you? The menu changes weekly and Vlooi the donkey and Smiley, the goat, up the entertainment ante. Call 082 531 6141.

Piacere – for light Italian staples like pasta and pizza (wood-burning oven). Visit piacere.co.za.

DRINK

“Do you know how many people ask if I’ve changed my surname to match my passion?” chuckles brewmaster, André de Beer. The Cockpit Brewhouse is a rollicking place to siphon off a few hours, while getting mildly addled on craft beer. And while your empties, laced with beer suds, stack up, André needs no encouragement to talk you through the tasting notes of his tipples. Our personal favourite? André’s Black Widow Stout, with its creamy texture and roasted flavours of coffee and dark chocolate. Heck, if you ask nicely enough, André may even whisk you behind the scenes to his brewhouse, where all the magic is conjured. Call 012-734-0656 or visit Facebook.com/cockpitbrewhouse.

SHOP

As you stroll along Cullinan’s high street (Oak Avenue), serenely lost in time, you’ll notice a litter of dainty second-hand stores. Make sure you pay a visit to Rust in White (012-734-1583), where you’ll find delicate lavender-scented linen sprays, a sea of bone-china mix and matches, second-hand antique furniture, an ocean of enamel and a graveyard where all the old kitchen implements go to die. Disclaimer: By the time you’re done here, your wallet will be anorexic. Don’t ignore the kerb-side craftsmen – we spotted some very pretty proteas, carved from wood, among other handcrafted gems.

SLEEP

Gastehys JanHarmsgat. It’s a bit like falling down the Rabbit Hole – such is Jan Harm Vorster’s ability to create fantasy with plants, space and food. Jan’s extraordinary garden and fairytale decor inspirations suffuse every detail of the four guest rooms, from the zany door in the roof of Leka Room’s bathroom, to the suspended chairs that double as bedside lamps in Fansy Suite, it’s all bewildering but in the best way possible.

After you guzzle the contents of the sherry tincture bottle that thoughtfully greets you on arrival, you’ll bed down in a dream of downy linen and awaken to birdsong and cherry blossoms outside your sash window filigreed with lace.

And then there’s breakfast… 9am, like clockwork, a soft flutter of fingers on your door announces it’s rise-andshine time. On the menu? Freshly syruped koeksisters, eggs balanced in little ‘trophy’ egg cups and mini bread loaves, straight from the oven, steaming consolation. The hallmark of a good B&B? Why quality filter coffee, of course, which sits temptingly alongside its Bodum press, making breakfast in bed a true delight. Keep your peepers peeled for the Pierneef prints and the Walter Battiss silkscreen.

Visit gastehys.co.za.

CLAIM TO FAME

Made famous by its astounding diamond yields, this dandy village was put on the map for its most famous find, The Cullinan Diamond. Unearthed in 1905, it now encrusts the British Crown Jewels, which is a bit cheeky, considering we South Africans now have to cough up for a visa if we want to go ogle our bling. Anyway, that’s enough crotchety fist-shaking, back to the mammoth rock. Weighing in at a hefty 3 106 carats (about the size of a man’s fist, if you’re taking notes), the Cullinan Diamond was cut into 11 neat, manageable segments. It took three craftsmen eight months of 14-hour shifts (workers’ rights weren’t really big back then) to cut and polish the sparkly stones. Big finds continue in Cullinan to this day. Just four years ago, a rare vivid-blue diamond boasting flawless clarity was burrowed out. The mine itself is nearly four times the size of the man-mined Big Hole of Kimberley.

DON’T MISS!

Jan Harmsgat se Agterplaas, a zany theatre-cum-antique shop-cumvenue space, replete with said Jan’s extraordinary upcycled garden and fairytale decor inspirations. Imagine an Owl House vibe with a lather of bunting. Incidentally, if you’re looking for a wedding space, and your style veers towards unconventional, the cavernous and colourful indoor theatre at Jan’s could just fit the bill. Call 074 322 5225 or visit janharmsgat.co.za.

WHAT TO DO?

  • Creak observantly around the time-warped McHardy House Museum, with its display of antiquated kitchen implements. Enjoy a game drive in the area’s game reserves. Visit somabula.co.za.
  • Try surface and underground mine tours, plus a diamond safari, where you can view the Cullinan Big Hole (exit from Oak Avenue).
  •  Pay your respects at the Italian Prisoner of War Museum (open Tuesdays only). During World War II, almost 100 000 Italian prisoners of war were accommodated in the area, so it makes for poignant pondering.
  • Visit St Peter’s Catholic Church, said to be the oldest Catholic church in the Pretoria diocese.

Send this to a friend