History of Warmbaths/ Bela-Bela
This Golden Sunshine town has an interesting history.
Warmbaths / Bela-Bela - has strong mineral springs that flows out of the Earth at a rate of 22 000 liters of water per hour with a temperature of 52°C this water gave rise to the eventual establishment of the town of Warmbaths. The water from these springs are rich in sodium chloride, calcium carbonate and other salts that are highly beneficial to those suffering from rheumatic ailments.
Originally the Voortrekker Carl Van Heerden established the first farm in this area at the Mineral Springs and called it Het Bad, at this time the area in and around the mineral springs was a marshland where great numbers of wild animals were trapped and died in the mud. When the marshes were eventually drained, the skeletons of numerous animals including elephant were found.
In 1873 the Honorable President Burger of the then South African Republic (ZAR) that first saw the tourism and recreational opportunities that Het Bad had to offer. He proposed the purchase of the farm to the ZAR. The ZAR at first refused the proposal but when President Burger wanted to purchase Het Bad from his own funds they accepted the proposal, and so Hartingsburg was born.
During the Anglo-Boer war the British annexed the small hut that still stood and called it Warm Baths. The British also erected a blockhouse to protect the railway line to Pietersburg and it still stands today.
Christina Pretorius, wife of the well known General Andries Pretorius passed away after a bought of flu and was buried in Warmbaths, she was brought to Warmbaths in the hope that the mineral waters would restore her health.
Hartingsburg and Nylstroom would remain declared townships in the district of Waterberg and that the magisterial headquarters would be where the Government deemed it most necessary. This however fell to the lot of Nylstroom, for although Erven were sold at Hartingsburg, hardly a soul lived there. The fresh water supply was poor - the place was visited by sick persons during 5 months of the year only and in addition Nylstroom did everything to maintain itself. Although Hartingsburg was the official name the place was commonly called "Warmbaths". In 1903 the British government changed the name of the Post Office to WARM BATHS ( Tvl. Government Gazette. Vol. V111 - 1905, pp. 108-109).
A proclamation of April, 1905, proclaims the extension of the boundaries of Warmbaths over the other portions of the farm Het Bad and since then the name Hartingsburg disappeared.
In 1920 Warm Baths was reproclaimed a township and it was not until the 1st July 1950, that it had a magisterial district of its own.
In 1932 Warmbaths achieved village town status and town council status in 1960.
Since then the township has made rapid strides. New residential areas sprang up, modern business concerns were erected and magnificent schools and hotels made their appearance.
In the year 2002 Warmbaths was officially renamed Bela-Bela (which means the pot that boils) and the Northern Province has been renamed the Limpopo Province.
Buiskop is situated approximately four miles North of Warmbaths, this is a well known and historical summit.
Buiskop was used as a halfway house during the Republican days for the mail coach that travelled between Pretoria and Pietersburg, fresh horses were provided here. The mountain was also found to contain a sandstone formation and this stone was used for the erection of a portion of Pretoria's UNION BUILDINGS.
This mountain has an interesting history and owes it's name to a Coenraad De Buys who was forced to flee the Cape Colony at the beginning of the 19th Century. He fled North and with his two sons Machiel and Gabriel and a number of natives as bodyguards. Tradition relates that they incurred the wrath of a number of local tribesmen in the area and were driven to the mountain and encircled. The natives tried to get them to surrender by thirst, eight days later Coenraad de Buys made his appearance and dumbfounded the natives who were expecting surrender, to see him swinging a skin of water over the top of the mountain and declaring that he had certain higher powers on his side that enabled him to get water on the dry mountain top. Terrified by this state of affairs the natives decided to cease hostilities and put an end to the seige on Buiskop.