Melville Koppies
The conservation team: Best Ndlovu, Lucky Mdluli, and Clement Ndlovu with Wendy Carstens with the shield on Melville Koppies

Melville Koppies, known and appreciated for both its historical and natural significance, has won an award for ‘Preferred Heritage Site’! This is a testament to the conservation teams and volunteers who work very hard to keep the Koppies a must-visit gem:


Johannesburg, South Africa (11 October 2023) —  Melville Koppies Heritage site and its protectors are celebrating a shining victory after winning the prestigious Golden Shield Heritage Award for ‘Preferred Heritage Destination’, as awarded by the National Heritage Council recently.

The Golden Shield Heritage Awards honoured people around South Africa who work very hard as communities and in individual capacities to preserve, protect, train and support cultural and natural heritage riches.

For the conservation team who help keep Melville Koppies a sought-after gem of natural curiosity and history, the win was a big one!

There, the team work tirelessly to preserve the Koppies’ geology, flora, fauna and various historical significances—something visitors will get to know more about when adventuring through the Koppies’—a hiker’s haven just five minutes from the Johannesburg CBD.

On Visiting the Koppies

Volunteer guides with a wealth of information, fill explorers in on the significance of their footsteps.

Where museums usually have historic displays organised in an orderly and chronological fashion, the historical remains at the Koppies are random and often concealed by vegetation; making the experiences there even more of an adventure as Wendy Carstens, Chair of the volunteer Melville Koppies Management Committee shares.

“For example, in one warm north-facing area there are many traces of stone walling from the huts and kraals of early Sotho and Tswana farmers. Close by there is a Late Stone Age tool scraper tool, found by an archaeologist. This little treasure has been hidden under ‘the rock’ by guides to let visitors feel and touch such a tool. And there is a blast hole left by the Geldenhuys brothers when they tried prspecting for gold in the 1880s. Fortunately what they found was not worth the immense effort. More such remains are often found by the Conservation Team when they clear alien vegetation,” says Wendy.

For the nature curious, visitors are also introduced to the uses and curious relationships of some of the plants in the grasslands and forests like the Wild Als (AKA the ‘cure for everything’) and the underground tree affectionately known that the ‘paranoid tree’ that protects itself from fire, frost, rain, drought, snow and grazing as Wendy notes.

The prize heritage remains however, is the original 500-year-old iron smelting furnace that actually led to the site’s establishment as a Heritage Site, while the prize view is at the top of a steep rocky path where on a clear day, even the distant Magaliesberg can be seen.

And, underlying one’s explorations are the almost 3-billion-year-old quartzite ridges and shale valleys of the Witwatersrand Supergroup.

However, none of these experiences of knowledge would be possible without the Koppies’ community. As such, the award is also a reflection of the committed volunteer involvement Melville Koppies has prided itself on ever since it was established as a Nature Reserve in 1959.

Meanwhile, the Gold Shield Heritage Awards also saw other winners have their moment in the sun; including  Professor Pitika Ntuli and Mr Themba Wakashe with special awards of Lifetime Achievement among the following:

National Living Treasure: Professor Nokuzola Mndende

Preferred Heritage Destination: Melville Koppies Heritage Site

Young Heritage Activist: Sipho Hlakudi

Voice of Heritage: Monicca Thulisile Bhuda

Heritage Education: Cape Heritage Museum

Sources: Wendy Carstens; National Heritage Council
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About the Author

Ashleigh Nefdt is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Ashleigh's favourite stories have always seen the hidden hero (without the cape) come to the rescue. As a journalist, her labour of love is finding those everyday heroes and spotlighting their spark - especially those empowering women, social upliftment movers, sustainability shakers and creatives with hearts of gold. When she's not working on a story, she's dedicated to her canvas or appreciating Mother Nature.

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