Free State DestinationsFauresmith, Xhariep Region
Fauresmith lies in what is known as the False Karoo in the southern part of the Free State, a little town that serves as a centre for the local lucerne and potato farming community, and apparently one of only two towns in the world (the other is said to be in America) where the railroad joins the main traffic road, right on the edge of town, whereafter they converge through the centre of town, parting ways again on the other side of town.
This rather obviously made Fauresmith quite the place through which to travel in the days when steam trains were popular. Today the little town, which lies on the R704, 130 kilometres south west of Bloemfontein, still has a steam train, donated by South African Railways, where it is mounted for all to see.
Locals know the town for its Endurance ride, which sees as many as 300 horse riders travel over 200 odd kilometres of fairly rough terrain over three days during the winter months. It's more of an endurance for the horses than their riders, as horses are inspected by a vet after the close of every day within 20 minutes of arriving at that day's destination. Should the vet consider a horse stressed or medically unsound that horse is then disqualified.
The Randjiesveld Hiking Trail takes place through the surrounding countryside, all 25 kilometres of it. It takes roughly 2 days to complete and takes one through an old reserve originally established in 1926 as a weather research project where the original laboratory remains standing.
Make sure you see the Church Tree, an old karee tree just north of the town hall next to Kosmos Cafe, whilst you're in Fauresmith. It was under this tree that that Reverand Faure one of the town's namesakes (the other was Sir Harry Smith, governor of the Cape Colony) and Reverand Robertson first served holy communion to 32 members of the Dutch Reformed church.