In this edition we head north to the jacaranda city, Pretoria, highlighting some of Gauteng’s most impressive landmarks and must-see museums that you can see in a day from Hatfield station.
Hatfield – art and history in the heart of Pretoria’s student districtThe University of Pretoria campus was established in Hatfield to the east of the Pretoria city centre in 1910. It steadily grew during the mid 20th-Century to become one of the biggest campuses in the country and academia dominates life in this side of the city. The area has seen huge development in recent years and on almost every corner is a new high-rise student residence, some of which have become major landmarks in and of themselves with colourful embellishments and distinctive modern architecture.
While much of the university campus is out of bounds to visitors you can now visit the university’s newest museum, the impressive Javett UP Art Centre which is worth a day trip in and of itself.
Bordering Hatfield to the north and west is leafy Arcadia, an old-fashioned suburb whose wide streets are lined with grand embassies and beautiful jacaranda trees, home to the historic Union Buildings.
Getting around from Hatfield stationYou can easily reach the centre of Hatfield and the university campus on foot from the station. The Union Buildings is a longer walk (about 45 minutes), although on weekdays you can also take advantage of the Arcadia Gautrain bus . From Hatfield station Gautrain buses also link up on weekdays with the more distant leafy suburbs of Brooklyn, Lynnwood and Menlyn.
THE JAVETT UP ART CENTRE
The Javett-UP Art Centre at the University of Pretoria is one of South Africa’s most impressive art museums, that boldly places itself as a new “home to the art of Africa”. The museum’s art collection is huge and accompanying the exhibits are extensive educational materials, screening rooms and guided art walks, meaning there’s more than enough to keep you occupied for several hours.
The Javett UP hosts an expansive selection of modern and contemporary South African art, some of it on loan from major private collections, complemented by stunningly curated temporary exhibitions. On show is a who’s who of South African art greats including works by the likes of William Kentridge, Mary Sibande, Sam Nhlengethwa, Gerard Sekoto, Irma Stern, Zanele Muholi, Alexis Preller, Peter Clarke, George Pemba and Penny Siopis.
Among the museum's many large-scaled signature works are Alexis Preller’s formidable Discovery frieze and a magnificent tapestry from 2014 by Keiskamma Art Project, that is styled after Picasso's Guernica and details the extraordinary pain and devastation wrought across the Eastern Cape during the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis.
The Javett Art Centre also celebrates Africa's ancient art history in the high-tech Gold of Africa wing which has provided a spectacular new home for the iconic gold rhino, leopard and other priceless treasures from the precious Mapungubwe collection, as well as a glittering exhibition of intricate gold decorations and accessories from West Africa.
Find out more about visiting the Javett UP Art Centre here.
How to get there: On weekdays take the H1 Brooklyn Gautrain bus and get off at the second stop on the corner of Lynwood and University Roads. The Javett Art Centre at UP is located on Lynwood Rd (close to the Roper Street entrance to the University of Pretoria campus) just over 2km from the Hatfield station.
PRETORIA ART MUSEUM
One of Pretoria’s lesser celebrated gems is the Pretoria Art Museum. A fine example of the International Style in architecture, the spacious museum presents a broad overview of 20th and 21st Century South African art, including some fine works by the likes of JH Pierneef, Irma Stern, Gerard Sekoto and sculptor Anton van Wouw.
How to get there: Take the H3 Arcadia Gautrain bus (weekdays only) and get off at the stop at the corner of Park Street and Wessels Street in front of the museum.
THE UNION BUILDINGS
Designed by Sir Herbert Baker to commemorate the 'Union of South Africa' in 1910, the grand Union Buildings are the official office of the South African President and one of the most famous landmarks in the country. Set on a hill, from here you have some of the best views of the city and the manicured terrace gardens with their superb city vistas are always a popular place for photo shoots.
In 1994 President Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first democratic president, was inaugurated here and in December 2013 upon Mandela’s death his body lay in state here. Though you cannot enter the buildings you can admire them from the outside and the towering nine metre bronze statue of Nelson Mandela that stands in front.
How to get there: Take the H3 Arcadia Gautrain bus (weekdays only) and get off at the Union Buildings stop.
Where to get lunchIt’s not a day trip if you didn’t get to stop for lunch and a good coffee and there are some delightful local cafes within striking distance of the station to settle in.
Four blocks walk from the station on the other side of Stanza Bopape Street is the Colbyn Village development, a lovely neighbourhood corner spot with some cute cafes. For light lunches, coffee, milkshakes and an array of delicious cakes take a seat at the friendly Trixies Cafe or the Nush cafe and bakery on the corner, where we also recommend buying some of their freshly baked breads to take home.
A stop at Colbyn Village's retro-styled Royal Danish Home Made Ice Cream parlour is a must, especially on a hot day. Royal Danish make what is probably some of the best ice-cream in Pretoria and are always dreaming up interesting new flavours such as pumpkin pie, red velvet, passion fruit and the royal lime ripple.
Colbyn Village is located at the corner of Thompson and Duncan Streets.
Three blocks south of the Hatfield Gautrain station, Bravo Pizzeria is a fun and laidback spot with a small sunny terrace for a bite of pizza from their wood-fired pizza oven. With this being a student neighbourhood they also often have lots of great specials.
Find Bravo Pizzeria at 1212 South Street,
CORNER HILDA AND PROSPECT
The heart of Hatfield’s student scene is centred around the corner of Prospect Street and Hilda Street, two blocks from the station. Here you’ll find a fun new development built from old shipping containers and set around a beer garden attached to the always popular Aandklas, a studenty pub, beer garden and live music venue. For lunch try the burritos and quesadillas from the Broritos stall and grab a coffee from bamlilo coffee.
How to use the GautrainYou can now pay for all your Gautrain trips using a contactless bank card by simply swiping in and out of the turnstiles at stations and tapping the contactless touchpoint on the bus when you enter. Alternatively, buy a Swift Card at the station and top it up to pay for your trips.
The Hatfield Gautrain Station opens at 04:50 and closes at 21:30. The first train departs the station at 05:23 and the last at 20:41 (20:30 on weekends). Trains leave every 12 minutes during weekday peak rush hours and every 20 minutes during off-peak hours. On weekends trains depart every 30 minutes. Download the Gautrain app for real-time updates on when the next Gautrain and Gautrain bus is due or check online at gautrain.co.za.
The first Gautrain bus leaves Hatfield at 06:14 and the last at 20:01. Buses depart every 10 or 20 minutes depending on the time of day. Note that there are no Gautrain bus services on weekends.