Gauteng�s very own Wild West offers a rich variety of options for location scouts. Whether you�re looking for mountains or mines or man�s history, the West Rand area of Gauteng offers easily accessible, and visually appealing, locations for film, television and commercials.

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Into the Wild West
The landscape is characterised by highveld plains studded with mine dumps and headgears � and the Magaliesberg mountain range. The main attraction to the area, of course, is the 47 000 ha Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, which incorporates the Sterkfontein Caves � one of the world's most important palaeo-anthropological sites, a historic gem within close proximity to both Johannesburg and Pretoria. Since 1947, there have been great scientific discoveries here in the search for the origins of humankind. Embedded in the rocks, found in the numerous dolomitic caves in the area, are the fossilised remains of hominids, animals, plants and pollen giving a complete picture of the hominids and their surroundings dating back over 3,3 million years. The area contains archaeological sites dating to the Stone Age, the Iron Age, and recent history such as the Second South African War - in fact the West Rand area is filled with remnants from this war, including old British blockhouses.

The other major attraction of West Rand is that it provides a landscape littered with abandoned and operational mines, ideal for filming requirements.

Contributing to the vibrancy of the West Rand are mining towns such as Carletonville and Randfontein, quiet country retreats such as Muldersdrift and Magaliesburg, including the charming Magalies Meander, and the urban bustle and prehistoric significance of Mogale City (formerly Krugersdorp) including the Crocodile Ramble.

The town of Carletonville was named after Guy Carleton-Jones, one of the mining magnates of the area. West Driefontein and Western Deep Levels, are open to the public. There are two prominent monuments in the area: the Danie Theron Monument which stands on the hill where this Boer scout died in 1900 during a brave one-man battle against a detachment of British soldiers; and the Ireland-Bergh Memorial Stone and Oosthuizen Monument which commemorate the mining history of the area. With its many large parks and dams, Carletonville continues to be a laid-back mining town.

Krugersdorp was established on a portion of the farm Paardekraal, and named after President Paul Kruger. In 2001, Krugersdorp was renamed Mogale City in honour of Chief Mohale Mohale who ruled the Tswana people in the region in the early nineteenth century. Mogale City is the commercial capital of the West Rand and both past and future are inextricably linked to mining. Mogale City is home to one of the first gold mines on the Witwatersrand dating back to 1881, the Old Kromdraai Gold Mine. In 1952 the West Rand Consolidated Mine became the first mine to extract uranium as a by-product of gold mining. Today, manganese, iron, asbestos and lime are also mined in the Krugersdorp mines.

Just ten kilometres north of Krugersdorp is the Kromdraai Conservancy area, within the Cradle of Humankind, home to the Rhino and Lion Park, a 1 400-hectare private reserve home to lion, buffalo, rhinoceros, cheetah, wild dogs, hippopotami and several species of antelope, as well as the Wonder Caves. Visitors have to take a mineshaft 40 metres down into the earth to reach the Wonder Cave � an enormous single chamber, decorated by some 15-metre high rock formations. The cave is 2 200 million years old and formations include rim stone pools, cave pearls, stalactites, stalagmites, and the famous �Madonna� carved by nature into the rock. There is also a perfectly calm underground lake. Local African people regard it with awe, believing that the water has medicinal properties and can even cure blindness. Tribespeople hold ceremonies at the edge of the lake, during which water is carried away for treatment of the sick. The underground lake with crystal clear water is the only one of its kind in the country.

Ngomo Safari Lodge, also situated within the Rhino and Lion Park, has a well established team building camp, as well as luxurious tented accommodation. A major attraction here is one of the many private fossil sites, where a private guided tour of an active dig can be arranged, to truly experience the essence of this World Heritage Site.

The Sterkfontein Caves, also found within the Cradle of Humankind, are not only the site of some very famous paleontological discoveries, but are also noted for the beauty of their stalactites, stalagmites and crystals. The main visitor centre for the Cradle of Humankind, Maropeng, comprises 2 500 square metres of exhibition space exploring the past, present and possible future of humankind. There are viewing decks, a 5 000-seater outdoor amphitheatre, a craft market and numerous gift shops, choices of restaurants and banqueting facilities, a conference centre for 500 and a boutique hotel.

Wild Cave Adventures has established itself as the authority on caving in this region, and offers guided tours affording young (over 8 years) and old alike the opportunity of abseiling down into the caves for tours lasting up to 3 hours, At one with nature and the local communities, a caving experience could well evolve into helping a cave recover from being used as a dump, to brightening up a rural school. Wild Cave personnel are used to working with film crews.

On the borders of the province, Saddle Creek Ranch enable visitors and crews to experience a little of the �Wild West�. Turning the corner to their �ranch�, the welcome you receive puts you in another place and time that needs to be experienced! Here you have the opportunity of riding a horse suited to your level of experience on a trail up onto the Magaliesburg Mountain range, lasting from one hour to the whole day.

February 2007 saw the newly built Lake Heritage Dam on the Richter properties of Heia Safari Ranch and Aloe Ridge fill in a mere 48 hours! This beautiful dam is home to numerous bird species and a pair of Fish Eagles have successfully bred on the professionally built nesting platform for the last two years.

Various water activities are offered, including fishing for yellowfish, bass, carp and barbel. A guided drive on this private game farm of more than 1 000 ha with no private vehicles on the roads is a special experience, with numerous species living on the farm, including rhinos, hippos, giraffe, zebra, and a variety of antelope.

Sites of historic interest include the old Burgershoop Graveyard, containing the graves of some 809 women and children who died in British concentration camps during the Second Anglo-Boer War. A prominent monument in the area is the Paardekraal Monument, which marks the site where 6 000 Transvaal �burghers� assembled in 1880 to pledge their allegiance to Paul Kruger. Each man placed a stone on a cairn to signify his resolve to fight for the independence of the Transvaal (Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek). After the short war with the British and the declaration of independence, the men resolved to commemorate their victory by celebrating it at the cairn, on 16 December every five years. An 18-metre high sandstone monument was subsequently erected on the spot and still stands today.

The old station building, which is a national monument and dates back to the construction of the first railway line between Springs and Krugersdorp in 1887, is an elegant landmark. There is also a Railway Preservation Centre with an historic rail collection that includes locomotives and other equipment in working order. And while on the subject of Rail � some of the country�s oldest steam locomotives, a diesel electronic locomotive and over 50 vintage passenger coaches can be viewed at the South African National Railway and Steam Museum.

The 2 000-million year old Magaliesberg Mountains form a natural boundary between the highveld region to the south and the warmer Bushveld (savannah) region to the north. A wide diversity of plants, mammals and birds are found here. The quaint town of Magaliesburg lies in the valley. The world famous Bill Harrops Ballooning Safaris are situated at Skeerpoort in the Magaliesburg, from which breathtaking scenes can be filmed of the mountains and surrounding vistas. Another historic mine can be found here, the Blaauwbank goldmine surrounded by scenic countryside and the Magaliesberg mountains, where it�s possible to still pan for gold.

Muldersdrift, the centre of the Crocodile Ramble, is only 10 kilometres from Mogale City. This cosy village is near the Magaliesberg Mountain range. The area boasts a number of pubs and country restaurants. �Wedding-farms� have also become popular in this area, as have paintball parks, 4x4 tracks, obstacle courses, and drag strips.

Gilroy�s Country Brewery, at the Ngwenya Glass Village in Muldersdrift, opened in October last year, with well known Master Brewer giving brewery tours by prior arrangement but providing colourful entertainment just by being himself during all opening hours. The country style venue gives the feel of being in a saloon bar with a distinctive Victorian slant, with its dark wood, glass and tin roof adding character to large outdoor seating area, where live entertainment is provided at weekends and public holidays as well as occasions like St. Patrick�s Day!

The same location is home to a plethora of crafters, from Wire Works - a training programme and outlet for small beaded/wire gifts to corporate logos and commissions, stone masons, recycled glass blowers and glassware - to more traditional arts and crafts. Zest Restaurant and various children's activities and playground complete the scene to make a very vibey and colourful venue sure to suit many needs.

A highlight of the area is Greensleeves Medieval Kingdom, which offers the essentials for a superb conference and film setting, far removed from the everyday. Facilities range from small to large conference offerings in unusual rooms, including a tree house, a medieval banqueting hall or King Arthur's Round Table...

In 1889, the mining financier JB Robinson bought the farm Randfontein and started the Randfontein Estates Gold Mining Company. From the following year, a town began to establish itself around the mine. Much has changed since the early days and Randfontein is now a large industrial and residential centre on the West Rand.

The history of the town Westonaria, developed in 1938 alongside the Libanon and Venterspost gold mines, speaks of hard times as mineshafts were sunk and abandoned time and again. Today, skydiving is a popular outdoor activity and a landing strip and clubhouse for skydivers has been built at the Westonaria Dam Resort. Of historic value is the Pullinger Shaft, which led to the eventual development of deep-level gold mining. Mining operations were repeatedly thwarted by the 1 200 metres of dolomite that cover the West Rand area.

Useful contacts:

West Rand District Municipality
Amanda Lombaard
Tel: (011) 411 5155
E-mail: tourism@wrdm.gov.za

The Crocodile Ramble
Marian Brooke
E-mail: theramble@mweb.co.za
Web: www.theramble.co.za

Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site
Reshma Lakha-Singh
Tel: (011) 355 1863

Maropeng
Tel: (014) 577 9000
E-mail: info@maropeng.co.za

Magalies Meander
Tel: (014) 577 2063
E-mail: info@magaliesburg.co.za

Mogale City Marketing and Communication
Tel: (011) 951 2477
Fax: (011) 953 2493
Website: www.mogalecity.gov.za