Warden, Thabo Mofutsanyana

The N3 passes right through Warden on the route between Johannesburg and Durban, just north of Harrismith. It is thus more-often-than-not used as a hallmark stop to fill up with petrol, and a burger and chips at the one-stop shop.

However, Warden is a hundred years old (the town celebrated its centenary in September 2013), has a larger than most Dutch Reformed Church (seating as many as 1750 people at a time), and lies in the middle of a significant potato, maize and meat farming district – the flat countryside for miles around dedicated to fields of vegetables. The one-restaurant main road of Warden is seldom overly busy, other than over weekends during holiday season when the Jo'burg to Durban rush is on, or when farmers pass through daily en route to pick up or drop farm workers from the township just outside town.

Warden makes a good overnight stop, particularly during spring when the cosmos is out on the roadside, the foothills of the Drakensberg just visible in the far distance.

Several of the buildings have been restored in anticipation of the town's centenary, and the main road has been recently upgraded. Its stone Dutch Reformed Church is larger than the Sydney Opera House and one of the biggest stone churches in the southern hemisphere.

Warden forms part of the Grasslands Meander, an arts and crafts, food and accommodation route that centres on the flat grasslands of the northern Free State including all the small town in the area. The area is awash with farmstays, guest houses, B&Bs, hiking, craft shops, art galleries, restaurants, nature reserves and picnic spots.

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