The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa


Afrikaans name: Amsterdam

View approaching Amsterdam from Piet Retief

Photo © Steven Herbert


The town of Amsterdam, in Mpumalanga, doesn't have much in common with the better-known Dutch city other than its name. In fact, its origins lie with a Scotsman by the name of Alexander McCorkindale. McCorkindale had grand ideas to create an area to be known as New Scotland with a town named Roburnia being the capital. McCorkindale’s plans did not fully materialise and Roburnia was later renamed to Amsterdam, after the Dutch city, as a show of thanks for Dutch support during the Anglo-Boer War.

There are three dams near Amsterdam and these form part of the massive Usutu-Vaal project which was designed to provide water for Eskom’s power plants. These three dams are Westoe Dam (with a capacity of 60 million cubic metres), Jericho Dam (60 million cubic metres) and Morgenstond Dam (82 million cubic metres).

The area around Amsterdam has some large sheep farms and a lot of timber is grown in the area. Early Scottish settlers who followed McCorkindale, brought with them fine breeds of sheep which were well-suited to the area.

Amsterdam weather


The surrounding area is very scenic, and it is a pleasant area to drive through. One of the attractions in the area is known as Goliath’s Footprint (sometimes called Adam’s footprint or God’s footprint). This geological feature, which is almost 2 metres high, resembles a human footprint completely with accurately shaped toes.

References and further reading

Readers Digest Illustrated Guide to Southern Africa - 4th edition - Author: - Published: 1986 - Page: 220

Southern Africa from the Highway - Author: AA RSA - Published: 1991 - Page: 251

On Route - A region by region guide to South Africa - Author: B.P.J. Erasmus - Published: 1995 - Page: 176

Country Life - Issue 285 - Author: - Published: 2020 - Page: 34


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