The Abandoned Town of Bonnefoi

You will not guess that just inside the forest of wattle trees is a settlement that few people could ever dream even exists. The big white boards with big red letters state clearly that nothing may be carried away, this, the Protection Act (Act 25 of 1999), clearly indicates that this special place is a National Heritage Site. But if you pre-arrange with the Highveld Heritage Tourism offices in Ermelo, they will send a tour guide with the keys to this mystery and the whole story. It is only then that you find out that this was a town, a town called Bonnefoi and was in its day a missionary church, a post office, a hotel, auction yards, postal horse stables and a giant mansion of a house now silent and brooding with the remnants of an English garden and strangely enough, an antique car still standing in the garage. Then the story comes out, it is a place of romance, a place of determination and the grand home of an art family that made their mark on South Africa’s art history.

Go to the internet and type in “The Women of Bonnefoi” to discover something that is almost an Out of Africa experience. There you will read about the Everard family, a family of artists, who lived and struggled in this place. Tours to Bonnefoi can only be undertaken by pre-booking at the Tourism Offices and is an adventure into a part of South Africa’s history that seems to have been abandoned by time. Today Bonnefoi is a silent hamlet with a watchman and an incredible story of Africa, its people, its art and its mystery.