Nottingham Road is known as the 'heart' of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands Meander due to its second-to-none hospitality in truly beautiful surroundings, plus wide-ranging accommodation, function facilities, fascinating local calendar of events, invigorating outdoor recreation, adrenalin-pumping adventure sports, historic landmarks, wildlife conservation, shop-till-you-drop arts 'n crafts, Pie-eyed Possum and friends.
The picturesque, ordered beauty and attractions of Nottingham Road's extensive farmlands remain deeply rooted in antiquity - quite spine- chillingly so in certain particular circumstances! Quaint country taverns and a network of luxurious holiday accommodation proudly perpetuate the district's century-and-a-half-old, hallmark tradition of gracious living resplendent with fine cuisine and a drop of amber nectar. This is 'old families' territory, with vast cattle ranches, sheep farms and horse studs upholding lines of inheritance dating back to our pioneering days. English settlers based at Port Natal-Durban began unlocking the Midlands region during the early 1830s, and governors of the Natal Colony allocated generous tracts of land to consolidate this expansion from the coast. These developments impacted not only on the relatively new Zulu realm forged by mighty King Shaka, but also encroached on the already-diminished domain of nomadic San hunter-gatherers - the indigenous Stone Age people confined by Zulu imperialism to the foothills and peaks of the nearby mountainous Drakensberg range. For the San - degradingly referred to in European-based history as 'Bushmen' - the arrival of domesticated animals in their last foothold heralded a rare and welcome new source of food. Needless to say, the English path-finding farmers held an altogether different view, and Colonial authorities dispatched an ex-Nottinghamshire regiment to quell stock raids. The aptly- named First Sherwood Foresters - now playing 'Sheriff of Nottingham' to the San's 'Robin Hood' - completed their garrison in 1856 and named it after their English Midlands home. The village that evolved alongside the Fort's approach was duly titled Nottingham Road, and we annually pay raucous, mead-fuelled tribute to history with our drawcard Sherwood Medieval Festival.
Returning to the past, Nottingham Road settlement again hit the headlines in 1866, when hardy adventurers arrived with the first flock of sheep - at the end of a thousand-plus kilometre overland journey from the Cape Colony! This addition to the menu greatly pleased the San, who'd by and large outwitted the English Army, and sparked ever-increasing stock theft. Government responded with the lethal 1869 Reprisal, launched from Fort Nottingham, that finally turned the 'frontier war' in the settlers' favour. The campaign is vividly portrayed among the San's last examples of world- famous rock art, for the 'fire-sticks' of white men on horseback contributed at least one final nail in this people's collective coffin.
Equestrian pursuits of a more genteel nature - including polo and mock fox-hunting are these days a great attraction, and we boast the countrys most popular annual showcase of expertise in the saddle. Trout fishing is yet another of our magnetic charms to have made front page in history, enticing lovers of the 'gentle art' to our well-stocked waters since 1884 - three years before the advent of our Nottingham Road Farmers' Association. Considering the area's pastoral foundations, this organisation has not surprisingly a finger in most local pies, and the visitor with an interest in agriculture could do no better than seeking its advice about viewing farm activities, stock sales and matters of that agrarian ilk.
Farmers are sometimes known to enjoy a tipple at the end of a long day and, sensing the limitations of imbibing only the mass- produced, Nottingham Road Brewing Company devised a 'fearless foursome' of unique alternatives for our host of quaint watering-holes to offer. Are, then, Nottingham Road's widely discussed ghost sightings a matter of substance, or local folklore born of one too many Pie-eyed Possums? Read on to discover these facts and more...
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