Melville Koppies – midweek 20 October 2004
This hike to Melville Koppies, undertaken by 23 of the Wednesday hikers, and lead by Jim, proved to be very enjoyable. We were privileged to have access to the eastern section of the Koppies, usually restricted to a particular weekend each month. Starting at the Floreum, we traversed the beautiful Johannesburg Botanic Garden, admiring the gardens, dams, bird life and large trees. We then crossed an old bridge on the Old Rustenburg Road (did you know it was there?) and braved Judith Road to enter the Koppies.
Straight up the hill, we finally arrived on top, where the remains of the settlement of an African farming/iron smelting community are situated. Tribes practicing iron smelting to make tools arrived in the Witwatersrand area about 1300AD from the north, but were eventually driven out by another African tribe in about 1823.
One can read their history and see a well preserved smelting oven at this spot.
We then proceeded in a westerly direction through lovely indigenous bush (a little dry at the moment), admiring the views of Melville and ‘old’ Johannesburg. What a large and marvelous tract of land this is on our doorstep and how fortunate we are to have retained it in its pristine state, in these days when greed and short-sightedness prevail in matters relating to land.
We crossed Byers Naude (definitely the most dangerous part of the hike) to walk across the western Melville Koppies, overlooking Westpark Cemetery to the north, and Westedene to the south. This part is still beautiful but rather more exposed to litter, being permanently open to the public.
The hike was an eye-opener to me, a Johannesburg resident for many years.