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Kimberley - The Big Hole and Mining Museum

Kimberley - The Big Hole and Mining Museum

Kimberley is famous for The Big Hole. Started in mid1871 The Kimberley Diamond Mine fast became known as the Big Hole in Kimberley

The Kimberley Big Hole is allegedly the deepest and biggest hand dug hole in the world. It measures 215 metres deep and the perimeter of the hole is around 1.6km (The folks at Jagersfontein, in the Free State, think their hole is bigger!) 

As the edges are in some places is subject to collapse access to the greater area around the Big Hole is extremely restricted. However, there is a fantastic observation platform from where you will get the most incredible photographs of this overwhelmingly huge construction, that is the Big Hole. 

There is a living town museum at the big hole with beautifully restored building from Churches, Bars, Banks, Hotels, Shops and other interesting places. It is one of the finest open air museums in the world. 

Mining ceased in 1914 just 43 years after The Big Hole was started and in that time over 22 million tons of earth was excavated, using picks, shovels, buckets, ropes and wheel barrows. The weight of the diamonds extracted from the Kimberley Big Jole was over 2700 kilograms. 

The Kimberley Mine site started on or about 16 July 1871 and by 14 August 1914 all mining activities ceased. By that time it had yielded 2 722 kilograms of diamonds worth around a minimum of $2.7 billion at 2010 values 

The Big Hole has recently had a massive upgrade and now consists of the following: 

• The Underground Mine Experience which enables visitors who enter a replica of a mine shaft of the period to experience the perilous 19th century mining conditions. 

• A fascinating fifteen-minute film introducing visitors to the story of diamonds at Kimberley

• Inside the Exhibition Centre are photographs, archive material and original artefacts that illustrate the story of diamonds from the past to the present. 

• Visitors can see the old jigging machines and grease tables specially designed to extract the diamonds from the ore in the Pulsator Building

• The Real Diamond Display, which is housed in a vault, displays the largest uncut octahedron in the world, the famous 616, named for its carat and size. 

• The new Viewing Platform offers visitors the opportunity to see The Big Hole from above, giving a sense of the Big Hole’s remarkable scale and grandeur. 

• In the Old Town you’ll discover period buildings that have been preserved or restored to their original glory; these include, amongst others, a church built in Europe and shipped to Kimberley; Barney Barnato’s Boxing Academy; the Diggers’ Tavern; an authentic digger’s sleeping quarters and the De Beers railway coach. 

You can easily spend at least 4 to 5 hours at this museum so wear comfortable shoes and in summer take your sun screen lotions. The Northern Cape sun can be very aggressive!

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