After checking into the Protea Hotel Kimberley , we explored the old Mining Village, Kimberley’s Big Hole and the Kimberley Mine Museum.
From the Protea Hotel Kimberley, you can take an easy 5-minute walk to The Big Hole. According to the hotel, you get free access to the old mining village if you stay there, so I am not sure what the standard entry fees are.
The first thing we saw was an old tram and an old steam train locomotive that are being renovated as was clear by the tin of paint standing next to the train.
The tram ride
We made it just in time for the last tram ride for the day. I was happy about discovering the tram as I did not know there was still a working tram in Kimberley. The tram quickly filled up with many British and American tourists and off we went!
It is interesting to see how the tram works. As we were sitting behind the tram driver, we had a clear view of everything he did.
Unfortunately, the tram ride did not last very long. The tram went halfway around the big hole, on the outside of the fence, and then they turned it around. We would have enjoyed a trip around the big hole and the Protea Hotel Kimberley, but the entire tram ride only took about 10 minutes from start to finish.
The Kimberley Mine Museum
After the tram ride, we went to the Kimberley Mining Museum. We did the guided tour. First, we went into a movie theatre and a short film (about 20 minutes) played. The movie was about how Kimberley came to be and how gold was discovered and mined. I found it interesting to learn about the history of the town.
Kimberley’s Big Hole
After the film, we went onto the bridge overlooking Kimberley’s Big Hole. From the bridge, you can see over the edge of the whole, right into the water inside.
The kids did not enjoy standing on the deck as it is a suspension bridge and sways from side to side in the wind. The guide explained more about the history of the area, and we found her knowledgeable and friendly.
Then we went to the mine shaft, where she explained the purpose of some mining equipment that stands around there.
Going down the mine shaft
Next the guide told us we would go down the mine shaft using a lift or elevator. The lift was small and stuffy. It didn’t feel like we were moving, but after a short trip down the elevator opened up in the mine below.
Downstairs we had quite an experience. We went to a secluded area, and an alarm went off. The next thing we heard was a deafening explosion. Apparently, this simulates what an explosion in a mine sounds like. Believe me, scary.
After the experience down in the mine shaft, we walked out into the museum area. The guide took us to a restricted area where they keep real diamonds in all shapes and sizes. There are also different colours of diamonds. Unfortunately, no cameras allowed!
After this we could explore the rest of the museum at leisure. The museum’s exhibits included artefacts and equipment from the old mining era. There were sections explaining how diamonds are formed – overall educational. On the one wall there was a timeline with all the important world events in chronological order.
The rest of the mining village
After finishing the museum, we walked through the rest of the Old Mining Village. There was an old banking building, a dentist’s rooms, a doctor’s office, some shops and even an old tenpin bowling alley.
The Old Mining Village, the Big Hole and the Kimberley Mine Museum are all interesting and educational. We will definitely recommend visiting it to our friends and family, it is a lovely relaxing way to spend an afternoon.
Have you ever been to the Big Hole in Kimberley? What did you think about it? Did you enjoy the experience?