About Fort Durnford Museum

Fort Durnford was built out of local sandstone in a strong rectangular shape with thick, high walls and a couple of prominant towers. It was built to serve as a stronghold on a rise overlooking the old military post at Bushman's River drift.

Did you know? KwaZulu-Natal is littered with the battlefields of yesteryear, which saw many a bloody encounter between the indigenous Zulu folk and the foreign settlers. The sense of history here is quite haunting.

It is said to rest where the Voortrekker leader Gert Maritz originally set up camp along the river, fortified in 1873 to act as a British stronghold to keep the British safe against any Zulu attack after the Langalibalele Rebellion of 1873.

Fort Durnford is a substantial fort with walls that are two feet thick and 30 feet high and heavily barred windows throughout, originally fitted with iron shutters set on hinges spiked to the walls. Under it are various tunnels that allowed the British to move supplies through the area and which provided a hidden escape route into the hills.

Today, although the building remains historically relevant in its own right, it serves as Estcourt's museum with a number of artefacts on display that include fossils, relics from both the Iron Age and Stone Age, old wagons and models of historic Natal battles. It also has a rather large birds' egg collection.

You can still see a large underground water tank beneath one of the rooms and a couple of the 'secret' tunnels that lead from beneath the ground floor of the north-west tower, believed to have continued towards the military post at the drift when it headed for the hills.

You will find the museum in Kemps Road, Estcourt open Monday to Sunday during the day but closed over lunch. The entrance is free, although there is a donation box.

Photo credit: Fort Durnford Museum in Estcourt ~ Photograph © LuftFan

Need to Know

WhereKemps Road, Estcourt, Battlefields, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

WhenMonday to Sunday during the day but closed over lunch

OvernightStay in Estcourt Accommodation, KwaZulu Natal


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