Written by Nick Gräbe
The time and space allowed to write just a few lines about an area or town is very difficult so these notes are merely spaces in history and by no means anywhere near complete history.
Groenkloof Nature Reserve that was established in 1892 in Pretoria was the first to be proclaimed by President Paul Kruger. He was not totally sold on the idea but was convinced that something had to be done. MP s Jakob Van Wyk and R Loveday, who were strong political opponents, pushed for the proper game park idea. There was a game park proclaimed at the southern tip of Swaziland and northern tip of Natal. The first SA Game Park was the Pongola Game Reserve in 1895 but it was only proclaimed in 1889 and not enacted by law so it did not last.
In 1892 when Field-Cornets and Native Commissioners were appointed ex officio gamekeepers, the men responsible for the district of the Sabie Game Park area were N.H. Versfeld (Komati) and D.J. Schoeman (Crocodile River)
Then they pushed for the Sabie river area to be proclaimed as a game park and it was enacted in 1899 just before the Anglo Boer war. The ZAR Gov enacted the Sabie Game Reserve and put it in the hands of Izak Holtshouzen, an ex-bodyguard of Pres Paul Kruger, who appointed a Policeman Paul Bester as Ranger in 1899. Bester left after a few months and joined the ABW. However, no confirmation of these appointments has been found in the official records.
Captain HF Harris was appointed as a ranger for 2 months in 1901 but left and was killed during the Anglo Boer war. After him, WM Walker was appointed as a ranger but dismissed in Jan 1902.
Post ABW the British government drove the whole idea forward with a new enactment and so The Sabie River game Park was born. Stevenson Hamilton was appointed the first Warden. He viewed the Park from the hill on the farm Peebles for the first time. He appointed Harry Wolhuter as assistant warden and one or two game rangers like Maurice Atmore who did not last.
This development in the area was the reason that the town of Hazyview came about. Paul Perry, a Canadian that fought for the British forces in Steineacker’s Horse brigade and saved his friend Harry Wolhuter’s life, of which the two of them received a farm each from the British government as a pension. Harry Wolhuter knew the area well and he chose the two adjacent Hazyview farms were Called Perry’s Farm and De Rust that makes up the backbone of Hazyview.
The Tsetse fly belt just missed the area and sleeping sickness amongst livestock was not as rife as elsewhere in this particular valley.
The name Hazyview comes from the haze that hangs over the Lowveld bushveld in summer in this Sabie River valley. Used to be blue haze but was named Hazyview by Roy Hundall.
Hazyview is nestled on the slopes of the Drakensberg Mountain Range. This town also has a history of gold mining and played an important part in the development of the Lowveld area.
Hazyview is 420 km from Johannesburg and close to the Paul Kruger and the newer Phabeni entrance Gates of the world-famous Kruger National Park. The town was established in 1959 when the post office was built. It was a” junction town” of note as five main routes converged there is a staggering confluence of needful traffic flow.
Hazyview is said to have the world’s best climate for bananas so you will see a lot of banana plantations as you drive through the area. The first person to grow bananas on a very large scale was Eddie Joubert at Burgers Halt with Winfred Cooper. The shift towards Macadamia nuts was caused by the lucrative financial demand or these nuts. Most other subtropical cultivation was slowly moved back for the humble Macadamia nuts.
There are a variety of restaurants, malls cultural experiences and a variety of other activities for tourists. There is the Shangaan Cultural Village to visit, you can also take an elephant back safari ride or visit the Panorama Route with magnificent views and waterfalls. At Summerfields was where Jan Smuts had a hunting cabin.
Standing at the top of the Escarpment on a clear day it feels like you can see forever. This “Escarpment” was formed when the rest of The Asian continent broke away from Gondwanaland in an underwater separation and this whole area was underwater as far as Bronkhorstspruit. Only millennia later did the tectonic plate movement push the south-eastern part of Africa out of the sea.
For the more adventurous there are activities like horse riding, hot air ballooning, river rafting and hiking. Hazyview is a great getaway spot and another advantage is the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport nearby for those who wish to fly in.
Hiking trails through the beautiful forests with cool, rushing streams and picturesque waterfalls are truly a delight. Hazyview offers sporting facilities such as golf, tennis, bowls, and the area is well known for its trout fishing.