Brakpan, East Rand

The towns of Brakpan, Benoni and Springs, though separate, have virtually become one due to development and urban sprawl. Give it time and Germiston, Boksburg, Benoni, Brakpan and Springs will simply be eastern suburbs of Johannesburg.

Interestingly, Brakpan started as a suburb of Benoni until it was given its own status as a town in 1912. Now these little towns are extensions of the sprawling city that serves as the gateway to Africa.

That said, they do have a real character of their own. Brakpan, the town, emerged largely due to the gold and uranium mining that continues today, even if the mines now give a fairly low yield and are fairly costly to maintain. Its rather gutteral name is derived from a non-perennial lake that used to be here during the 1880s that had a habit of drying out during the year to little more than a brackish pan, giving the town something of a romantic angle, considering the central business area of the town is anything but pretty.

Move out into the more suburban roads and little tinned roofed homes add character to the leafy sidewalks. Homes might suffer a similar fate to most of those in Jo'burg – walls and electric fences - but the walls are not as high, and some houses are defined by little more than a fence.

Although there is a prevalence of Afrikaans spoken here, the names of streets in older suburbs reflect the original English influence - Gladstone Street, Gardiner, Queen and Hastings. The building of a Casino complex known as 'Carnival City' that brings visitors here hasn't done much to shift the image the town had as conservative, however.

But there are plenty of golf courses, the town will offer you all you need in the way of shops, and it is close to OR Thambo Airport.

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