New Lowveld gem warms our heart
As leisure accommodation slowly opens up, look no further than Katrinasrust Trout Farm for a breakaway. Set on a charming farm just outside the small town of Machadadorp, Katrinasrust is like a little English isle amidst the Mpumalanga mountains. Under the watchful eye of the Elands mountain range, in the middle of a valley, this working farm is a trout breeding centre and stocks many of our local stores and restaurants.
Katrinasrust Trout Farm has been in the Brewer family for over 60 years, beginning with Avril and Eric Brewer, with various family members having lived and worked on the farm. Today, the farm’s emphasis is on recreation and taking on this new direction is Alice Brewer and her fiancé, Graeme Gullacksen, who moved to Katrinasrust at the end of 2018.
There are two cottages on the property although the word cottage is hardly apt for the expansive farmhouses they really are. Sitting next door to each other, you have the choice of Wisteria Cottage and The Oaks.
Both sit in the middle of expansive gardens and are fully fenced so dogs are welcome. Wisteria Cottage is the original farmhouse on Katrinasrust. Wisteria was the original home of Eric and Avril Brewer. Avril was very fond of gardening and in the warmer months the garden still bears the fruit of her hard work – a typically English-style space with a wealth of beautiful creepers, lush beds, manicured lawns, rambling roses and of course, an abundance of wisteria. The garden also conceals many little hidden pockets, which make exploration much fun. Wisteria has had an expansive makeover and now sleeps 12 very comfortably in five rooms. Three are ensuite, with two sharing a bathroom. The kid’s room has two enormous handmade bunkbeds, which children will adore. While the bathrooms are modern and spacious, boasting walk-in showers and an egg-shaped bath you may fight over, the rooms are elegantly fitted, have great linen, comfortable beds and all boast views of the garden.
The kitchen is the original old farmhouse kitchen. Snug, traditional, it offers modern appliances and leads onto a scullery and mud room; great for all kinds of fishing and outdoor gear. The living areas are spacious and elegant. Both the dining room and lounge lead out onto the garden. Both have fireplaces, making them ideal spaces for relaxation, meals, board games and reading with family and friends. There is also a firepit, braai and pizza oven outside, which I have no doubt will be hugely popular in summer. There is no Wi-Fi or phone connectivity at Wisteria, which for us just added to its charm. Phones were left behind and we could concentrate on family time.
The Oaks is the original fishing lodge and has not been updated but don’t let that put you off; it showcases a quaint charm reminiscent of the old farm days. Nestled between ancient oak trees in a private fenced off garden, its shaded pergola offers an ideal place for outside dining as well as a braai, a pizza oven and is the only property with Wi-Fi. The Oaks sleeps 10 comfortably in three double rooms and one bunk room for children. It has a large fully, equipped kitchen and a lovely cosy living room with a fireplace. Although the architecture of this cottage is old, the rooms also boast great linen and comfortable beds.
We visited in June and the temperatures in this area are not to be trifled with. At 7am, the temperature gage had still not moved from 0 degrees but thanks to electric blankets, plenty of hot water bottles and two raging fires, we were very happy to stay indoors.
However, the gorgeous scenery did beckon and the Lowveld in winter is a splendid mix of colours and wildlife. The farm is 500 hectares and there have been sightings of grey duiker, grey rhebok, Cape Clawless and Spotted Neck otters, porcupine, serval, civet, genet, caracal, slender mongoose, bush pig, black backed jackal and the side striped jackal.
The area is ideal for bird viewing too, in fact there are over 200 confirmed bird sightings on the farm and you can look forward to the Katrinasrust Bird book in the future. Apart from the beautiful wing span and familiar call of the fish eagle you may also spot little grebe, half-collared kingfisher (as well as malachite, brown-hooded and giant), Narina Trogan, long-crested eagle, cuckoos in summer, malachite sunbird, gurney’s sugarbird, secretary bird, woodpeckers (olive and golden-tailed), buff-spotted flufftail, scaly-throated honeyguide and more.
There are many walks and trails to explore, one being the river walk which takes you through the forest and stream along wooden bridges and magical trails under a canopy of trees.
Of course if you are a fisherman you may be wondering about the fishing. There are two dams on the property. One is a considerable size and backed by the forested mountainside. Named the Island Dam, the water is clear and a little row boat can get you to the middle island. The other dam (Bottom Dam) is slightly smaller but no less picturesque and we moved between the dams daily, fishing and picnicing the hours away. Nearby you will discover the trout-holding pens for breeding, grazing cows and sheep, with the odd quack from the resident black ducks coming from above.
Alice offers new arrivals the opportunity to buy a wonderful array of freshly grown veg and homemade marmalades, lemon curds, honey and trout pate. Preorder your favourites and they will be popped into your fridge before your arrival.
Both cottages serviced daily
Fishing rates applicable
Rod hire is available
Homemade picnic hampers can be pre-ordered
Fresh produce includes: Hot-smoked trout and trout pate, Seville Orange marmalade, fresh eggs from the Boschveld chickens, honey, homemade spaghetti, vegetables and herbs.
Ask Graeme for a birding walk – he is quite the expert
For all live trout sales, contact Graeme: firstname.lastname@example.org.