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The East Rand consists of a number of cities and towns lying east of Johannesburg and incorporated into the greater Johannesburg metropolitan district. The towns are a mix of upmarket and working class residential suburbs beside large industrial parks.
Most of the East Rand towns were formed in the 1880s during the gold rush period and many of the homes built to accommodate miners and their families.
The area is booming and a great deal of emphasis has been placed on convenience for its residents with an excellent road network, sprawling parks and lakes and a generous sprinkling of churches, malls, schools, clubs and sporting grounds.
Johannesburg’s international airport is located within the East Rand boundaries, making a stay on the East Rand an ideal option for both business and leisure travellers.
Top 10 reasons to visit East Rand
1. The Horwood’s Farm craft market and vintage fair operates from a heritage site in Edenvale and has a children’s play area and a variety of craft and food stalls to entertain and gratify. This popular craft market is open on the 2nd Sunday of every month.
2. The East Rand is a retail hub with malls and shopping facilities spread throughout the area. Depending on your location, recommended centres are the Eastgate shopping centre in Bedfordview, Lakeside mall and Northmead Square in Benoni, Springsgate in Springs and the Mall @ Carnival in Brakpan.
3. The 44ha Gillooly’s Farm in Bedfordview is a welcome escape from big city life. The farm hosts regular dog shows and the locals visit to picnic in the grounds or dine at the waterfront restaurant. The lake offers angling and boating, and art exhibitions take place on select weekends.
4. It’s taken years for Benoni to shrug off the 1980s Campari advert questioning the town’s sophistication but today Benoni is a sought-after residential area with picturesque manmade lakes, sporting facilities and large malls. Spend a day with the kids at the popular Bunny Park.
5. Take a tandem paraglide flight from the Dunnottar Aerodrome in Springs for an aerial view of what was once the most productive gold producing area in South Africa.
6. The city of Germiston is where the Thoroughbred Breeders Association museum is located, filled with interesting horse racing memorabilia and a theatre to watch old horse racing film reels. For the more active, hire a boat to experience sailing on the Germiston Lake.
7. The 60m x 30m Festival Mall ice rink in Kempton Park is open 7 days a week for general skating and the rink occasionally hosts ice hockey games. Instructors are on hand to assist newbie skaters.
8. Buck the gambling odds at the Carnival City Casino and Entertainment World in Brakpan. The resort has many other offerings including restaurants, bars, games arcade and spa & beauty salon.
9. Take a drive to Nigel for carp fishing on the Nigel Dam or bird watching at the Marievale Bird Sanctuary. The sanctuary is rich in wading birds and has hides overlooking four bodies of water. Both locations have braai (barbeque) facilities.
10. The EndoFaun Zoological Gardens & Endangered Wildlife Breeding Centre in Bapsfontein is a refuge for injured animals and an education centre with a small number of animals on show. The centre has a petting zoo and sells handcrafted products made by the local communities.
The OR Tambo International Airport is situated in the centre of the East Rand and you are never more than a 45 minute drive away. The Germiston Rand Airport accepts chartered flights while Benoni has a large heliport. Car rental agencies are located at the airport and at all major centres, otherwise order a vehicle online. Metered taxis, shuttle service companies and Uber all operate in the area. For quick access to and from Johannesburg, use the Gautrain that can be boarded from the airport.
Did you know?
The East Rand is the birthplace of many dignitaries, most notable being Nadine Gordimer – winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, born and raised in Springs, and Charlene Wittstock (Princess of Monaco), Hollywood actress Charlize Theron and Zimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe, all from Benoni.
The Elsburg Tailings Complex in the East Rand is a series of mine dumps estimated to contain 1.7 million ounces of gold, currently being recovered. The sand and sludge is fed to a processing plant 50km away to extract the precious material. The tailings complex will eventually be reclaimed for use as industrial land.