Komatiland Forestry Museum, Sabie
Did you know?
Sabie’s forestry museum contains a ‘painting’ made from matches tracing humans’ efforts to harness fire and light.
An American traveller passing through the town of Sabie in Mpumalanga province on a rainy day might easily think he or she was back in his home country, in the state of Oregon.
Huge trucks laden with fresh-cut timber share the streets with local bakkies (pick-up trucks) and visitors in SUVs heading for the nearby Kruger National Park.
Sabie retains a small town specialness, the people are tourist-friendly and the town itself is placed in a marvellous setting of forests and plantations.
From Sabie, you can get to the towns of Pilgrim's Rest and White River, or attractions such as the Mac Mac Falls, Bourke’s Luck Potholes and the Three Rondavels. These are famous names from the late 1880s, the era of big gold discoveries in these parts.
But today it’s all about the ‘brown gold’, and the fact that the area around Sabie is the largest human-made forest in South Africa.
More than half of the country’s timber comes from the Sabie area.
The industry was initially started to provide wood supports for all the underground mines around the area, and now supplies wood for furniture, paper and general consumer products.
The Komatiland Forestry Museum in Sabie takes visitors back to the start of the local timber industry, through the generations and up to the present day.
It explores the role of trees in nature, harvesting procedures, what timber is used for, and steps the industry is taking to make it all environmentally friendly.
There is also information on our relationship with indigenous forests and their contribution to quality of life.
There are some very interesting displays at the Komatiland Forestry Museum.
Highlights of South African history are recorded on the concentric rings of a 250-year-old yellowwood disc, while the history of match production is displayed, along with a small replica of a Pretoria Dutch Reformed Church, made entirely out of glued-together matches.
An old frame saw, miniature wooden shoes carved by a South African (Anglo-Boer) War prisoner on St Helena, and a handmade Irish Gypsy clothes peg that dates back more than a century are displayed along with historical timelines recording the growth of the timber industry in South Africa.