In this, the second of a series showcasing locations in Gauteng province, we look at Ekurhuleni - home to Charlize Theron, business tourism, art deco architecture, nature, history, farmlands and industrial centres.

Ekurhuleni (formerly the East Rand) means 'place of peace' and is a region to the east of Gauteng where idyllic farms are found next to sprawling industrial sites with their factories belching smoke. There are abandoned mine dumps and historic sites, as well as majestic wetlands, dams and nature reserves - all form part of Ekurhuleni's attraction as a film location.

Snitch II used an unoccupied hospital in the middle of Kempton Park as a location, and the Finklesteins shot their music video in the turbine room of the same hospital. More recently, The Amelia Earhart feature film starring Richard Gere and Hilary Swank used the art deco Rand Airport as a location (see September newsletter). The mine dumps in Ekurhuleni have been used as locations on numerous occasions for commercials and features. Justice for All was shot almost entirely at the Springs Magistrate Court.

For a location scout, Ekurhuleni offers a rich variety of options. There are easily accessible mine dumps, monuments and memorials, farms, vibrant townships, European streetscapes, industrial sites, factories, airfields, power stations, Victorian buildings, and nature reserves, dams, parks and wetlands a plenty.

Ekurhuleni's most important landmark is OR Tambo International Airport, Africa's biggest, busiest and most modern airport. And Benoni is the hometown of Ekurhuleni's most famous export the Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron.

Ekurhuleni is home to many small Victorian towns which sprung up after the discovery of gold, among them Alberton, Benoni, Boksburg, Brakpan, Edenvale, Germiston, Kempton Park, Springs and Nigel, as well as the very picturesque Bakerton. Vibrant sprawling townships developed alongside these towns and include Daveyton, Katlehong, Tembisa, Kwa-Themba, Tsakane, Thokoza, Vosloorus and Wattville. A titbit of township trivia is that Daveyton is also known as the Chevrolet Township because it has the biggest collection of Chevrolet cars in South Africa. These and other classic American models from as early as the 1960s are used as taxis in the township.

Ekurhuleni is one of the most intensely mined areas in the country. The many mine dumps and machinery bear testimony to this. There is even a nineteenth century mine still in action at the Simmer and Jack Mine. Still in existence are the original corrugated iron houses, recreation hall and three headgears. It is one of the most important gold mines on the Witwatersrand. Brakpan's claim to fame is 'Superdump', the highest mine dump in the world, which towers 357 feet above the town on the Ekurhuleni skyline. This dump has the distinction of being higher than any of the pyramids in Egypt except the Great Pyramid of Cheops.

One of the oldest restored buildings in Gauteng can be found in Edenvale. The Franz Hoenig House on Main Street dates back to 1894 and was built for the first manager of the dynamite factory.

The Springs central business centre is home to a large collection of Art Deco buildings with a total of 34 buildings, second only to Miami, Florida in the United States. One of Springs Art Deco gems is the Central Fire Station built in 1938. Crown Cork Factory was the first industry established in 1951 in Isando in Kempton Park. It was built in Art Deco style and has never been altered. Many more Art Deco buildings are to be experienced in the other towns that make up the City of Ekurhuleni.

Gracious old farmsteads can be found scattered throughout the region. There is an original farmhouse building dating back to 1904 in the Meyersdale Nature Reserve. It is still inhabited by the Meyer family and has been kept in its original state. In Kempton Park there is the Old Witfontein Farmstead comprising an original 1920s farmhouse, corrugated iron dwelling, dam and two graveyards. General Albert's Farmstead outside Nigel has a large single storey Victorian house at the crest of a hill and General Albert's grave.

Boksburg is a veritable treasure trove of architectural jewels. A few of the highlights include the Cinderalla Prison on Trichardt Street which was built by the ERPM mine in 1904 to house long-term Black male prisoners employed by the mine. The Old Law Courts on Church Street and the Old Post Office Building on Market Street were both designed by Sytze Wierda around the turn of the last century. Both buildings are well preserved and provide a good example of the transitional architecture of the period.

Brakpan also contains a gem or two. A petite stone church on Heidelberg Road called the Dear Jesus Church and Biblical Gardens seats only eight people. And also to be found in Brakpan is the oldest power station in the Witwatersrand. It was opened in 1897 and decommissioned in 1970. Another old power station in Germiston, Simmerpan Power Station, still has its switchgear house and corrugated iron cottages preserved.

Germiston is the sixth largest city in South Africa and has the largest railway junction in the country and is home to Reefsteamers with a number of working steam engines and rolling stock. It can also boast the world's largest gold refinery. The 75-year old Rand Refinery handles twenty percent of the western world's newly mined gold. Germiston is a very important industrial centre and is home to 2 000 factories. It has one of the country's busiest civil airports, Rand Airport, built in 1929 and surrounded by many art deco buildings, which was recently used as a location for the international feature on Amelia Earhart. It is also home to many well-preserved 'Puffing Billies' which can be found at the beautiful Victorian Germiston Station.

Outdoor nature-based locations are plentiful and there are over 300 lakes,
pans, dams, nature reserves and wetlands to choose from. Benoni's recreational areas include a string of natural pans, wetland areas, lakes and dams such as the Rynfield Dam, a source of entertainment and adventure for all water enthusiasts. Benoni, with its five lakes, is one of the loveliest cities in the area. Benoni also lies next to Blesbokspruit, a proclaimed wetland area & RAMSAR site. The Boksburg Lake provides beautiful shaded lawns ideal with picnicking.

Pioneers Park is located around an ivy-covered mine shaft and features a tree-fringed lake. This park has lovely aloe gardens, a stone bridge, streams and fountains and a functioning, true-to-life Dutch windmill.

There is a nature reserve on the outskirts of Nigel which is stocked with ostrich, duiker and small herds of springbok and zebra. Ducks and geese frequent the small dam in the reserve.

The locations described in this article are to give a taste of the wide variety of potential locations in Ekurhuleni. Prior to proposing a location, we suggest you contact Charl Fouche, Director of Tourism, Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, on +27 (0)11 456 0024 or email charlf@Ekurhuleni.com] for further information.

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