Vrede (“in peace”) is a scenic little town lying in the North-Eastern Free State about 20km east of the N3 close to the Mpumalanga border. Vrede is surrounded by undulating, highveld hills. It is just 220 km from northern Johannesburg, and about 30km the other side of Carolina on the R102 to Warden and Harrismith on the Volksrust-Newcastle road. It is in the spine of the Drakensberg off the N3 highway Durban to Nelspruit (and the alternative Durban to Johannesburg) and also on the main route from Johannesburg via Newcastle to the North Coast and Zululand. Travellers from down south could make their way the Kruger National Park.The town was established in 1863 by European landowners of this area. Vrede was so named after a dispute between the founding fathers about its name was settled amicably (“in peace”).
The temperature of Vrede averages about 26 degrees. It is at an altitude of 1668 m above sea level. It averages 700 mm rainfall per year. It is surrounded by a large farming district. Today, Vrede is the agricultural hub of a 100 km² farming region that produces maize, wheat, mutton, wool, beef, dairy products and poultry.
Memel was laid out in 1911 as a town, and became a municipality in 1913. Memel is a Russian word which means Surrounded by Water, and is named after a small town in East Prussia, home town of a land surveyor called Straszacker.This small pristine country village is situated in the NE corner of the Free State close to the Drakensberg escarpment, only 240 km from Johannesburg and 300 km from Pietermaritzburg. The temperature of Memel averages from -5 to 26 degrees. It is at an altitude of 1620 m above sea level. It averages 700 mm rainfall per year.
The village of Memel is the central hub of the local farming community, but is fast becoming one of South Africa’s most sought after birding spots. Economically sheep and cattle are farmed in the area. The district has a rich history, and of particular interest are a number of sites relating to activities during the 1899-1902 Anglo-Boer War, as well as various other earlier wars.
The Anglo Boer War and the Rebellion have contributed to the region’s rich history. Various memorials and battlefields may be observed. The well known Amajuba Mountain is only 40 km from Memel. The Rebellion, led by General Christiaan de Wet, began in Memel in 1914. A Monument, in memory of this popular revolt, was erected in the town in 1915.
Warden is a town situated in the Free State Province of South Africa on the N3 highway between Johannesburg and Durban. Warden was laid out in 1912 on the farm Rietvlei and became a municipality in 1920. The town was named after the former Harrismith magistrate Charles Warden.
The town has one of the largest Dutch Reformed Churches in South Africa, with a steeple 45 m high and seating for 1,750. Bushmen paintings are found at various sites in the region.