Between Clarens and Fouriesberg
Off R711 to S1356
S 28’’36'34.4 E 028’’27'06.6
PO Box 27
087 150 0468
The towns located on the foothills of this Free State region are all embraced by rich histories. Many tribes and cultures over the decades have left their footprints here – from the San people capturing hunting scenes on cave walls, to the influences of European settlers on the architecture.
Today, many of Old Mill’s surrounding towns balance the remnants of yesterday with the refinement of today. The same holds true for the resort. If you visit chalet 1, you will still find the original keystone in the wall. This was carved into the sandstone of the original homestead, which was built and occupied by Colonel Hull over 150 years ago.
By visiting Clarens, which is a stone’s throw away from Old Mill, you will be able to explore a village that offers the perfect mixture of modern and traditional. Against the backdrop of beautiful mountain ranges, this town has an array of art galleries, delectable cuisines, and handmade crafts, making it well-
FROM MAIZE TO MEAL
Lesotho citizens used this mill even when more modern technology was available, bringing maize with their donkey’s to grind the grains into meal.
THE COMMUNITY’S WATERING HOLE
Due to the long commute, many visitors from Lesotho would spend a day, or sometimes even a week, at the mill to meet with friends and relatives.
Beginsel was first surveyed in 1860 on the instructions of President Paul Kruger. The farm was originally gifted to Colonel Hull by Queen Victoria as a trading concession. Colonel Hull formed a partnership with Colonel Hattingh, and in 1913 John Hull installed the old water mill on the river and opened the trading store. The Old Mill was imported from England. It is a triple roller -
Unfortunately, none of the original mill structure on the river remains today. A few years later, a new building to house the mill was built further from the river to avoid it from once again being destroyed and swept away by the Caledon river when in flood. The mill was first powered by water, then steam, but as technology progressed, tractors were later used and then finally, electricity.
When Bruce Weyer purchased Beginsel decades later, he used a more modern mill to grind maize and corn for the Lesotho villagers. Because the mill is on the Lesotho border, special arrangements were made for these customers; they were exempt from paying duty or access fees to cross into the country to mill their maize.
In 2002, Weyer sold the farm to Edmund Cressy. Cressy rebuilt the old mill, but incorporated modern technology. One day we hope to house our pub and restaurant in this historical building.
The Trading Post is probably almost as old as the Old Mill, and used to service the surrounding 7 villages across the Lesotho border. Villagers came here to purchase their basic necessities and to sell their maize or to have it milled. The South African Government has since disallowed any movement of the Lesotho people across the Caledon, which resulted in the closure of the Trading Store. The Caledon River marks the border between Lesotho and South Africa. Access to the trading store was between two barbed wire fences leading from the river to the store. This system ensured no illegal immigration to or from South Africa. This road between the barbed wire was also the original access road to the farm so the farm was originally only accessible from Lesotho. The new tarred access road was later built by the Lesotho Highlands Water Scheme. There is an audit tunnel into the river at the end of the tarred road, which delivers water to the Caledon River in times of drought. This tarred road has left the Old Mill drift with only 3 kilometres of dirt road, providing much easier and convenient access for our guests.
“I had the privilege of growing up on a farm and those memories will live with me forever. I want families to share the same types of experiences that I did – memories they can cherish for years to come. I want to see young children return to Old Mill Drift Guest Farm when they have families of their own, to build new childhood memories with their children; catching their first fish, careening into the river from an impromptu made river slide from materials gathered from the river, and hearing the mountains echo back shrieks of joy.” – Yvonne McCarthy.
The Old Mill Drift Guest Farm firmly believes that nature should be nurtured. If we look after our surroundings, it will look after us. Old Mill Drift is proud to be an organically certified farm. Sadly, our 1 654 acres have been heavily overgrazed by the Basuto’s herds. We are resting our land to regenerate and restore the abundant veld grasses and medicinal plants found here. On our hikes you will happen upon many varied and endangered plants, grasses and mosses. We are also hard at work to protect our land from veld fires which are as destructive as overgrazing.
In the past Old Mill harvested a variety of organically certified herbs, such as licudia surcia, rosehip, pelargonium, helecresium, wild mint and rosemary, which was exported to the near and far markets of the world. These herbs grow in abundance. During the Boer War, a lot of horse food was imported from Chile, and with it, the dogrose which we know as Rosehip. We currently only harvest wormwood and rosehip, an invasive alien so the collecting of the seed is of importance. The rosehip seed is pressed to produce rosehip oil, which is processed in a Clarens factory. In the future, we look to eradicate it.
Even our water is free of pollutants. The farm’s water supply comes from three natural springs which permeate through the rock mountainside, fed from deep within the earth’s core. Our water is rich in minerals and trace elements. It has been tested and is suitable for bottling.
To accompany meals or salads made in your self catering cottage, feel free to pick your own organically grown fresh greens and herbs from our much loved and carefully tended vegetable patch.
Our coffee shop serves coffees of the finest blends, an assortment of beverages and a few wholesome meals with a quirky twist.
There are a handful of milestones in our lives that deserve nothing less than an unforgettable ambience. Old Mill Drift has the romantic setting that will make the love of couples blossom. If you are looking for the perfect spot for a proposal there are a multitude of private picturesque scenes to choose from. Have an intimate picnic in a field of cosmos flowers. Sip champagne in the shadow of an old willow tree along the banks of the clear waters of the Caledon. Take a sensual shower under a cascading mountain stream. Be a bit naughty and skinny dip in one of our natural pools.
However you want to celebrate your love, Old Mill Drift Guest Farm is the place where your everlasting memories will begin.