Star of the West
Did you know?
Kimberley has two very old pubs: the Star of the West and the Halfway House. Regulars at each are fiercely loyal and seldom visit the competition.
The Star of the West pub is amongst the oldest operational taverns in South Africa. It first opened in 1870 to give sustenance to the hordes of thirsty miners who had joined the diamond rush that put the town of Kimberley on the map.
Saved from demolition in the 1980s by Ivan Freel, who restored the dilapidated Kimberley pub to its former glory, today it continues to slake the thirst of Kimberlites, along with hordes of visitors visiting this historical Northern Cape city.
Legend has it that the extensive wood panelling and gloriously fashioned bar counter were built from the timber of a yacht called the Star of the West which was wrecked off the West Coast and brought in bits and pieces to Kimberley by the surviving sailors.
As much a living museum as a pub in Kimberley, most of the original Star of the West pub remains thanks to the painstaking restoration undertaken by Freel.
Included in the restoration was the discovery of the original yellowwood bar counter and the battered Bovril urn that was used to dispense hot broth to hungry miners on their way to work in the mornings.
Also dating back to the pub's early days are the wrought iron and wooden barstools, the honky-tonk piano (which still sounds good) and the fascinating memorabilia and ancient sporting photographs adorning the walls.
About the only things that have changed over the years are the beer prices and the bathrooms. Until 1886 the toilets consisted of nothing more than old buckets in a dark corner. These days, however, the toilets are as modern as they come. The beer is a bit more costly but still good value and worth every drop in this historic drinking hole with its priceless atmosphere.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Star of the West
Tel: +27 (0)53 832 6463.
How to get here
The Star of the West, opposite the Big Hole and close to the Kimberley Mine Museum, is one of the most famous buildings in town so it's very easy to find. The Kimberley tram, a favourite with visitors, stops right outside the front door if you ask the driver to.
Best time to visit
Any time of year is good: summer is extremely hot though; winters are mild during the day but the temperatures plummet in the evening.
Around the area
There is plenty to keep you busy in Kimberley: do visit the impressive Big Hole and Kimberley Mine Museum and other historical attractions. Outside town are a number of good birding spots and nature reserves.
What will it cost
Although beer prices have risen somewhat since the the pub 1st opened, the Star of the West continues to offer good value for money.
Where to stay
Kimberley is the capital of the Northern Cape and boasts a wide variety of accommodation options, many of them housed in historical buildings.
What to eat
The Star of the West has a good kitchen and serves up a number of typical pub-style food such as bangers and mash alongside more traditional South African dishes.
Diamonds, if you're feeling flush.