Act like a tourist

14 Dec 2016

If you're staying home this festive season why not get out and act like a tourist for a little. Here are 7 Things To Do in Roodepoort...


If you're staying home this festive season why not get out and act like a tourist for a little. We looked around and found 7 Things To Do in Roodepoort.

1. Alice Art Gallery
Where? 217 Dryf Avenue, Ruimsig, Roodepoort
Alice Pitzer, owner of Alice Art Gallery is passionate about art and helping people get an appreciation and an understanding of various artworks. Visitors can peruse some outstanding paintings in this friendly and welcoming environment.

Tourists from far and wide visit the gallery to admire and purchase these phenomenal paintings. Auctions are held on a regular basis where you will have the opportunity to bid on the art that catches your eye and appeals to you the most.

A café onsite offers scrumptious tasty treats and baked goods, a perfect accompaniment to that cup of tea or coffee. The Café is a stunning venue and is often used for functions such as parties and baby showers. So while in Roodepoort, make sure you stop by for a visit, you won’t be disappointed.

2. Chinese Dragon Boat Racing
Where? Eistedfod Street, Florida Lake, Roodepoort
The sport of dragon boat racing is an ancient Chinese sport where 20 paddlers race over 250 or 500 metres to a flag catching finish. The team lifting their flag first are declared the winners. This is a team sport where members must work together, and is an excellent team building exercise.

The Florida Lake Dragon Boat Club welcome all new prospective paddlers and dragon boaters to join their practice sessions.

3. Explore the Kloofendal Reserve
Where? Galena Avenue, Kloofendal, Roodepoort
The 110 hectare Kloofendal nature reserve lies to the west of Johannesburg city centre in the suburb of Kloofendal, halfway between the malls of Clearwater and Westgate. It's a beautiful reserve with some incredible craggy quartzite outcrops and typical highveld vegetation.

Interestingly, the reserve lies on the site of the very first gold mine of 1884, opened before the reef was discovered, and the old shafts have been restored and are now national monuments. This does nothing to detract from the beauty of the place, where walking trails are freely available to all (you might want to check that it's open, during winter, as it sometimes closes when fires are a hazard). No surprise then that the park is a cultural heritage spot.

There is a small dam at which there is a bird hide, and the place is wonderful for Sunday afternoon strolls. Walks can be self-guided or you can join one of the trails lead by a qualified field guide – contact Friends of Kloofendal to do so as they look after the reserve. They also organise talks and other activities. There are picnic areas and a stone amphitheatre is for hire for events.

Whilst on a walk expect to see small mammals like duikers, dassies, mongoose, hedgehogs, the odd jackal, or mole rat. And if you're a real environmental enthusiast you can join the one-year field guide/environmentalist course run by the Kloofendal Nature Reserve.

4. Florida Lake
Where? Florida Lake, Roodepoort
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 lands 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, that 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.

5. JCI Geological Trail
Where? Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens, End of Malcolm Rd, Poortview, Roodepoort
The JCI Geological Trail is one of the self-guided trails of the ever-popular Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens in Roodepoort, Johannesburg. This is a verdant, scenic part of the Gauteng Province; a place of tranquillity and escape. These gardens are often the sanctuary of those simply looking to regroup and connect with the natural splendour of South Africa.

The JCI Geological Trail showcases the dense bushveld, winding streams, and towering mountains of Gauteng, particularly part of the Witwatersrand. It was created in 1997, with the help of the Geological Society of South Africa and financial assistance from JCI Limited, with the aim of showcasing some of the world’s most significant rock formations. Interestingly, these are also acclaimed as being some of the oldest formations in existence.

However, this trail is not only reserved for those with a vested interest in geology. Rather, it is a scenic and rewarding trail for young and old alike. It starts at the base of the Witpoortjie Waterfall and covers a circular route that extends some 3.5 kilometres. The trail includes the Orange Grove Quartzite, which is estimated to be 2 950-million years old, as well as the fault line. The hike takes about 2.5 hours to complete if some rest stops are taken into account.

Along the way, hikers should keep an eye out for the many bird species, as well as the mountain reedbuck. The abundance of floral species makes for breath-taking scenery, and includes the Wild Pear and Wild Medlar.

Visitors planning to undertake the JCI Geological Trail at the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens are advised to walk in groups and take plenty of potable water along. In addition, it should be born in mind that there are no refuse facilities along the trail, so all waste needs to be taken along and disposed of at home.

Always wear a high-factor sunscreen and protective clothing to avoid sunburn and heat exhaustion when on a hike.

6. Visit the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens
Where? Malcolm Road, Roodepoort
One of the great escapes of Johannesburg, the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden in Roodepoort, is almost 300 hectares of landscaped and natural veld that is a haven for birds and a popular picnic spot for Gautengers.

One can arrange guided tours along the Roodekrans Ridge and through the Nature Reserve part of the garden, and the dam and wetland area with its bird hide alone is worth the visit, particularly at sundown just before the gates close. There is a lot of shaded lawn on which Jo’burgers while away balmy days with a bring-along picnic. The nursery sells a variety of indigenous plants, and children enjoy the vast lawn areas where people picnic or simply relax. For additional information see Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens.

7. Wilgeheuwel Extreme Park
Where? Corner Florin and Krugerrand Street, Wilgeheuwel, Roodepoort.
In 2007 the City turned an empty piece of land into a 1.22 hectare park with landscaping, children's play area, mini soccer field, a fountain and trees - in similar fashion to television series that have made extreme makeovers, albeit of homes or gardens, so popular on television – into a park.

In other words, 200 odd employees of the city descended on the piece of land and transformed it in just hours – one day, to be exact.The park lies out near Little Falls, Roodepoort, where a spate of recently built townhouse complexes have turned this part of the city into something of a concrete jungle, with little greenery or open space for recreation. Now, on the corner of Florin and Krugerrand streets, is Wilgeheuwel Extreme Park.

There are other parks that have gone up in similar record time, as part of the Extreme Parks model, modelled on the popular television series Extreme makeover Home. These include: Diepkloof, Protea Glen, Claremont, Pimville and Mongameli Park. The concept, in the form of Diepkloof Xtreme Park, won the City Parks a gold in the United Nations' International Liveable Communities awards.

On the flip side of the coin, however, during the rainy season the park becomes flooded, which affects nearby homes. The park is apparently built on a natural wetland thus acting as a sponge for water that should flow straight into the river that runs through the park. Many of the surrounding townhouses are built below the city's flood line.

The park is close to the major road, Christian De Wet, that brings traffic out to this part of Johannesburg, not far from Clearwater Mall.

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