Weenen, Battlefields

It is an interesting name for a town, Weenen. The town, set on the banks of the Bushmans River, means 'place of weeping', originating as far back as 1838 when it was laid out in a Voortrekker grid pattern similar to many old villages in South Africa today that also benefit by the canal network that takes the river from property to property.

Weenen, taken from the Dutch, is called so because of the massacre of the Voortrekkers after land negotiations failed between Piet Retief and Dingane, who, on the day on which the agreement was meant to be finalised, had Piet Retief and 101 Voortrekkers killed at his royal settlement near Ulundi. Other massacres followed in the vicinity and finally, survivors fled the site now referred to as Weenan, intent on regrouping and avenging the dead.

Within a year the Battle of Blood River followed and many of the battles that today typify the KwaZulu-Natal Battlefields took place around here.

Weenen lies on the R74 between Greytown and Colenso, almost due north east of Estcourt in the heart of the Battlefields Route. The little town, because of its long history, is full of historical buildings, including the Voortrekker homestead Museum, a Dutch Reformed Church and other classic examples of the time.

It is also part of The Natal Midlands Amble, set up as PR for the at least 15 towns that fall outside of the established Midlands Meander. The amble takes in historical Baynesfield, Greytown, the German traditions of Hermannsburg, the gorgeous river valleys of Krantzkop, and the game-filled valleys of Muden and Weenan.

Weenen lies right next to the Weenan Game Reserve. Through its tree-peppered thornveld and a spectacular gorge, flows the Bushmans River, whilst black and white rhino, zebra, many antelope, the black-backed jackal and hyaena grace the plains.

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