Barkly West, Diamond Fields

Barkly West lies just off the N12, north west of Kimberley, in the Northern Cape. Its counterpart Barkly East, on the other hand, lies in the Eastern Cape closer to Lady Grey than Kimberley - the only link between the two that they are both named after Sir Henry Barkly, Governor of the Cape for seven years from 1870.

The village itself is essentially rural with barely a supermarket, called Oppi Draai, and liquor store at which to replenish supplies.

Despite this, the 'dorp' has quite a history. The first major diamond rush of the 1870s happened here, and the town was initially called Klip Drift (as in the famous brandy), which is Dutch for 'stony ford' or stony place on a river - it lies on the Vaal. It has had many names - Parkerton briefly, and even Nieuw Boshof when the Boers moved in during the Anglo-Boer War. And to make it even more confusing, most signs on the road spell the town 'Barkley-West'.

Do not drive too quickly through the village though as there are a couple of stops worth making, other than modern needs for replenishment. St Mary, the first Anglican Church of the diamond fields, stands here built in 1871, whilst the Barkly West Museum in the Toll House at the Barkly Bridge is another. This bridge is the first every built over the Vaal River and was transported here in sections from the United Kingdom. There are also 1 500 year-old rock engravings known as the Nooitgedacht Glacial Pavings.

Today there is a farming community that farms mostly dairy in the vicinity, whilst some of the homes in the village have been lovingly restored and function as guest houses and B&Bs touting Barkly West as a stop en route to the Kalahari.

Travellers' Reviews

1 Review from travellers. All reviews are verified.

Verified reviewexcellent

Truly an amazing history of adventure, greed and determination! Barkly West Museum and St. Mary's Anglican Church are the best bet in the town for history. There are also adventure activites available by booking at Vaal River Adventures (at Barkly West Museum)

Ashley (Kimberley)

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