Places to Visit Close By

Modderfontein Nature Reserve is an oasis of natural beauty smack-bang in the middle of an urban setting. Environmentally and user-friendly, you can choose to hike, cycle on one of the mountain bike trails, or just wander through a bird-rich landscape of hills, grasslands and dams.

This 275 hectare area is the second-largest private reserve in Gauteng and has become a haven for birds and small mammals, as well as for city-stressed locals.

Keep your eyes open for over 250 species of birds, including the African Fish Eagle, the Blue Crane and the dazzlingly coloured Crimson-breasted Shrike. If you’re very lucky you might spot otters swimming along the water course.

The Reserve is situated on Arden Road (off Ardeer Road) in Modderfontein, literally five minutes’ drive from Thornhill.  Entry fees are payable and there is also an annual rate for regular visitors. Pensioners also receive a special discount. Pack a picnic to eat in the picnic area by the dam in the shade of the trees or visit the Val Bonne Country Estate and enjoy quality dining in beautiful surroundings. If you want to work up a sweat, try one of the mountain bike trails within the reserve.

Modderfontein Conservation Society has a program of walks and talks in the reserve every Tuesday morning and on one Saturday and one Sunday morning each month.

Modderfontein Village

Modderfontein village was established in 1894 to meet the needs of the growing gold mining industry. With the advent of underground mining, there was a need to manufacture and sell dynamite.

This resulted in, what is colloquially referred to as, the Modderfontein Dynamite Factory being built as it was far enough away from the mining hub to allay people´s fears around the manufacture of explosives.

The original factory was built by Germans, and immigrants were recruited from all over Europe. This gave rise to villages which sprung up around the factory. The residents of these areas took to naming the small villages after their countries of origin, such as Dutch Village and Italian village.

Various heritage buildings have been retained in Modderfontein and tours are conducted by the Modderfontein Conservation Society on Heritage Day each year.  Buildings include:

  • The Modderfontein Dynamite Company Museum. Constructed in 1895, this was originally the residence of the first chief engineer. It has served as a museum since 1987. Located at No. 2 Main St. The museum is open Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 08h00 to 12h00 and on Thursday mornings for group tours. Advance booking for groups is essential. Call the curator on 011 608 2747.
  • Franz Hoenig Haus. Constructed in 1896 for the Factory manager Franz Hoenig,  an Austrian who was seconded from the Nobel factory at Pressburg in Hungary at the time. Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy scouts movement also lived there during the Anglo-Boer war. The style is classic Victorian and the building and surrounds have a charm and character that transports the visitor to times gone by. The entrance is located on the High St.
  • 33 High Street  Also constructed in 1896. This dear old house built for the Assistant Factory Manager in 1896, with its high ceilings and gleaming Oregon pine floors, has been fully restored and now serves as a restaurant. The entrance is now located on Main St. It offers pub lunches as well as more formal dining and is also home to a micro brewery.

Modderfontein Farmers Market operating out of the historic grounds of Frans Hoenig Hause on the last Saturday of each month between 9am and 2pm.

Based at Modderfontein in Gauteng, the Piston Ring is the largest car club of its type in South Africa with over 850 members, and is proudly affiliated to the South African Vintage and Veteran Association.
If you are passionate about classic automobiles, and even if you don’t own one, join members and other visitors on the third Sunday of each month at the Modderfontein Club grounds located at the top of High Street  where around 200-300 cars are on display. If you are thinking of acquiring a classic, come to the Club and speak to some of the many experts who will be more than happy to give you advice. There is a nominal entrance fee to the regular monthly meet for non-members, while youngsters under 15 have free entrance, and all club eligible vehicles enter free, so come and enjoy yourself.

Sporting Activities

If you fancy something a little more adventurous than relaxing around the pool, there are a host of sporting venues close to Thornhill. Modder Sports Complex located at the top of Casino Road offers Modder Football Club, 6 A-Side Football, Touch Rugby, Snooker, A Sports Bar with great food and entertainment, Running Club and LMS Cricket. The clubhouse serves as the start and end point for many of the sporting activities that get organised in and around Modderfontein.  There are TV’s for sport fanatics and 6 full size Snooker tables for indoor entertainment. An inviting patio area looks onto the children’s play area, allowing parents to keep an eye on their little ones.

Modderfontein Golf Club on Centenary Road has a course that consistently rates in the top 100 of South African golf courses. Measuring the length of 6500 meters the par of the course is 72. The layout is on a parkland setting and has firm greens with tree lined fairways. These elements combined with challenging strategic bunkering and water in play on 12 holes provides an excellent test of golf, even for the most accomplished golfer.

Modderfontein also has Bowling and Tennis clubs located in the village 10 minutes from Thornhill.

If the children are looking for something more thrilling, try Go Ape, an adventure tree climbing experience situated right next door to Thornhill.