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CCullinan is a small, well-preserved 19th-Century mining town east of Pretoria. Founded in 1902 and named after the founder of the Premier Diamond Mine, Sir Thomas Major Cullinan, this semi-rural community consists of mining families, farmers, artists and, on weekends, bikers and families looking to escape to the country.
Cullinan village, once a farm called Elandsfontein, was acquired by prospector Thomas Cullinan when he established the farm's diamond-bearing potential. It became the Premier (Transvaal) Diamond Mining Company Ltd, now the Cullinan Diamond Mine.
Cullinan village is situated in Dinokeng, the north-east corner of Gauteng province. Its close proximity to Pretoria and Johannesburg, its Victorian charm, and its reputation for yielding some of the largest diamonds ever discovered, make it a fascinating destination.
Quirky and quaint, the town of Cullinan’s focal point is Oak Avenue, which is lined with jacaranda and oak trees, cottages with intricate wrought-iron work and picket fences, bric-a-brac shops, restaurants, and the must-visit Jan Harmsgat se Agterplaas (literally, ‘Jan Harmsgat’s backyard’), a garden theatre-cum-gallery (and wedding venue) that rarely fails to delight visitors with its junkyard glamour.
Diamond mine tours are de rigueur when visiting Cullinan; choose a surface, motorised, or underground tour of the working mine.
Cullinan’s open-cast mine is among the biggest in the world, three times the size of the more famous Kimberley Big Hole. When you’ve finished goggling at this enormous crater, visit the Diamond Hub next door, where you'll be able to see diamond-cutting demonstrations and replicas of the mine’s most famous gems.
Then you can check out the historical and cultural attractions of Cullinan, including murals painted by Italian prisoners of war during the Second World War, St George’s Anglican Church designed by Sir Herbert Baker, the Sammy Marks Museum and Cullinan Station.
Dig below Cullinan’s surface, and you’ll find fascinating stories – the town offers more than its famous diamonds. For instance, you can take a local tour with a specialised guide, visit game ranches, enjoy outdoor sports, or even embark on adventure activities and steam train trips.
TTravel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Cullinan Tourism & History
Tel: +28 (0)12 734 2170
How to get here
From Johannesburg follow the N1 north towards Pretoria. Take the Pretoria East/Polokwane split. Take the N4 east (towards Witbank), then take the Rayton/Cullinan (R515) off-ramp.
Tours to do
Local guides offer historical and mine tours. On Sundays, a tractor tour visits Cullinan’s historical attractions. You can also book a guided tour of McHardy House Museum.
You’ll need a car to reach Cullinan, visit the mine, or tour Cullinan’s surrounds. It’s possible to explore the centre of town on foot, or take a narrated tram ride through the village.
Length of stay
Cullinan makes for an ideal 2-day, 1-night getaway.
Where to stay
Accommodation options in the village range from 5-star guesthouses to zany cottages constructed from reclaimed construction materials.
What to eat
The Dolphin Trail is fully catered.
Cullinan hosts the Groot Gat (‘Big Hole’) Festival in March, and a Mampoer Festival in May (mampoer is a notoriously strong, traditional South African spirit akin to moonshine).
Cullinan Mine is famous for its rare blue diamonds, which are on sale.