Take that walk. The oddest part of walking through Hillbrow with the Heritage Trust about a year ago must have been the huge police presence that accompanied us (I admit I felt reassured when we rounded a corner near the Fire Station and were confronted by a terrified-looking man surrounded by a small group of large men who seemed to be holding onto his hands a little too tightly.) At other times it was just oddly amusing though – as we walked to wards Louis Botha Avenue a spaza shop owner popped his head out of the kiosk and said “W-e-l-c-o-m-e t-o S-o-u-t-h A-f-r-i-c-a! W-h-e-r-e a-r-e y-o-u f-r-o-m?”
“Greenside, my good man” I muttered (under 5km away). It’s the perfect Joburg image – neighbours who exist universes apart. But enough of that – on Saturday March 12 the Parktown Westcliff Heritage Trust will be leading a walking tour of the Hillbrow and Berea Ridge. It starts at the Windybrow, ‘once home of Theodore Reunert and you get to see inside the romantic Bavarian-styled mansion which is now part of the theatre complex. Then down to Smit Street, past the BG Alexander building (formerly Nurses’ Home), up Claim and through the new Ekhaya Park with historic cast-iron gateposts. Cross the bridge high over Nugget Street to Pullinger’s Kop. This will take you into Primrose Terrace with views south to the mine dumps. Up Fife passing the home of Guy Brunton, world-renowned Egyptologist, and his wife, Winifred, who defined an image of Egyptian Pharaohs with her paintings. West along O’Reilly Road to see the Masonic Lodge and back past Gainsborough Mansions on the return to Windybrow.’
* Tour starts at 2pm from the Windybrow Theatre parking lot, 161 Nugget Street. For more information and to make a booking, Parktown & Westcliff Heritage Trust.