Things To Do in IreneBird Watching at Smuts House
Where? Smuts House, 66 Queen Street, Irene, Gauteng
When? The bird-watching trails are open to visitors every day of the week from 08h00 to 15h45.
How? Call +27 (0)12 667-4924
How much? Price on request
More? See website
Although Irene is now part of Centurion in Tshwane, it has a history that predates human civilisation as we know it. In fact, the rocks found here are believed to be 2 700 million years old. This certainly places Irene firmly on the map in terms of its archaeological and anthropological value. Irene, in Gauteng, is also the home of the Smuts House Museum, the original home of General Jan Christian Smuts, who was best known as a statesman and a particularly active participant in the Anglo-Boer War and the Second World War.
Today, however, his home and its gardens are perfect for the peace and tranquillity of bird-watching. In fact, there are more than 60 recorded avian species to be found fluttering overhead or perched in the boughs of the trees. Their song fills the air while onlookers catch sight of them in the warm South African sunshine of their natural habitat.
Every month, guided bird walks are conducted to enable visitors to get the most out of their bird-watching experience. There is a circular walk called the Oubaas Trail (‘Oubaas’ was the nickname of Jan Smuts and means ‘old boss’), spanning some 2.3 kilometres, which ascends Smuts Koppie, just behind the original house. The views along the trail are simply lovely and, of course, the birds make it extra special.
There remain gorgeous grasses that were planted by Jan Smuts himself, as he was also a botanist, as well as a granite monolith of the entire Smuts Family. The Smuts House Museum itself is always a delight, both for children and adults. Ouma’s Tea Garden is conveniently situated on the property, and offers a variety of baked goodies and other treats, as well as a welcome cuppa or an ice-cold drink.