Modderfontein is one of the oldest settlements in greater Johannesburg, founded in 1894 as the site of a dynamite factory that supplied explosives for the South African mining industry. Temporary residential villages sprouted up around the dynamite factory, occupied by immigrants from Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and other parts of Europe. Much of the land was also left unoccupied to form a buffer around the factory and the potentially dangerous explosions that could occur there.
The remains of those villages and protected land, now owned by Heartland Properties (a subsidiary of AECI), have been transformed into the privately owned Modderfontein Reserve.
Modderfontein Reserve is spectacular in its simplicity: A large piece of undeveloped land, with beautiful flora and fauna and no noise other than birdsong and the sound of water trickling through the reserve’s series of dams. The admission fee of R30 per person (R15 per child) is worth it in exchange for the sense of peace and tranquillity inside the reserve.
Modderfontein Reserve is crisscrossed by hiking and cycling trails – it’s a popular destination for mountain bikers and has a series of cycling loops maintained by Central Park Trails – and hosts a weekly five-kilometre run every Saturday morning. The Modderfontein Conservation Society also hosts morning nature walks every Tuesday and one Saturday and Sunday morning per month (visit www.modderconserve.org for more information) and there are braai stands next to one of the reserve's many dams, perfect for a family afternoon out.
At the far end of Modderfontein Reserve is a restaurant/events venue, the Val Bonne Country Estate. Housed in a beautifully-restored historic building which dates back to the 19th Century it is a popular place for weddings.