Gauteng52 map

#Gauteng52: The Year in Review

Around this time last year, I got an idea. In 2017, I would publish one blog post per week about a place in Joburg where I’d never been before. I mentioned the idea to a friend, who suggested I expand the project to all of Gauteng Province rather than just Joburg. And just like that, #Gauteng52 was born.

The nifty map I made of all my #Gauteng52 destinations. You can zoom in and click on the numbers to see the post I wrote about each place.

Some of my friends wondered why I would create such a significant challenge for myself for no particular reason. Others said there was no way I could find 52 interesting places I’d never been to before. I knew that wouldn’t be a problem, but in hindsight I’m also not sure why I decided to do this.

I’m so glad I did though, for a few reasons. First, #Gauteng52 gave me a sense of purpose during a year that turned out to be one of the toughest of my life. There were a few weeks when I was in total despair, and #Gauteng52 was the only thing pushing me to get out of bed and go do something. There were some weeks when I didn’t even feel like blogging, which had literally never happened to me before. But I had to keep going because of #Gauteng52.

Second, #Gauteng52 motivated me to finally visit some far-flung places in Gauteng that had been on my list for years — the Hennops hiking trail, for example, and Cullinan and the Marievale Bird Sanctuary.

Third, #Gauteng52 brought me new readers. I’ve met some of you at parties, during walking tours and on the street. Lots of you have told me you visited new places because of #Gauteng52. This makes me really happy.

#Gauteng52 in Review

I thought it would be fun to recap the year with a few #Gauteng52 facts and figures.

Over the course of this challenge I visited:

  • 15 restaurants/bakeries/cafés;
  • 6 parks/nature reserves;
  • 4 art galleries/studios;
  • 4 religious institutions;
  • 4 towns/neighborhoods;
  • 4 shops;
  • 3 factories/showrooms;
  • 3 museums;
  • 2 printers;
  • 2 farms;
  • 1 racecourse, 1 swimming pool, 1 steam train, and 1 barbershop.

The geographic spread of #Gauteng52 came out more or less like this:

  • 26 places in greater Johannesburg;
  • 6 places in the far-flung Gauteng countryside;
  • 5 places in the East Rand;
  • 5 places in Joburg South;
  • 4 places in Pretoria;
  • 3 places in the West Rand;
  • 1 place in Soweto, 1 place in Midrand, and 1 place in the Vaal.

My five most popular #Gauteng52 posts, according to the total number of page views, were:

1) Week 32: Solly’s Corner

This post received more than double the traffic of any other post I wrote this year. I think it found its way into a mysterious Fordsburg foodie vortex on Facebook.

Solly's fish and chips with seasoningFish and chips from Solly’s Corner in Fordsburg.

2) Week 19: Aranda Textiles

My readers clearly love Basotho blankets as much as I do.

stacks of Basotho blanketsStacks of the Basotho blankets at the Aranda Textile mill in Randfontein.

3) Week 9: Melrose Temple

No surprise this one was popular — the Melrose Temple’s Kavady celebration is mind-blowing, and this post was shared widely within the Tamil community.

Carrying Kavady at Melrose TempleCarrying Kavady at the Melrose Temple.

4) Week 8: Field Berry Farm

Raspberry-picking is apparently a wildly sought-after activity around here.

Lungi grows raspberries from the tips of her fingersThe lovely Lungi Ngqandulo with her raspberries at Field Berry Farm.

5) Week 48: Richmond Studio Café

Because everyone loves a brand-new, kick-ass neighborhood coffeeshop.

Richmond counterThe Richmond. I’m headed there for coffee just now.

Some of the other most popular #Gauteng52 places included the Little Sheep hot pot restaurant in Rivonia, the Marabastad neighborhood in Pretoria, Chocoloza in Milpark, and the Blue Door Studio in Richmond.

I’ve thought a lot about which #Gauteng52 posts were my own favorites but I’ve decided I can’t choose. I loved every one.

Where to From Here?

Some of you have asked what my next challenge will be. I’ve decided not to do another yearlong challenge like this in 2018. But I’m going to publish a series of overflow #Gauteng52 posts, covering places I didn’t manage to fit into the original 52-week series. I’ve also got some new, smaller series in mind.

I’ve also got plans to publish a #Gauteng52 book, and maybe even a #Gauteng52 exhibition in the first few months of 2018. Keep an eye out for updates.

Thanks so much to all of you for following along, and thanks to everyone who provided suggestions for places to visit. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. Happy New Year.

Previous Post Next Post

21 Comments

  • Reply Gail Scott Wilson December 30, 2017 at 10:17 am

    Fantastic project, has me all motivated to explore unexplored areas of the city. Have been doing some research and sure you would love some of these places. A book, may I prebook one now? Whatever you do in 2018, sure it will be interesting and I cannot wait to see what you have planned.

    • Reply 2summers December 30, 2017 at 10:19 am

      I’d love to join you on some of your explorations! And don’t worry, I’ll be sure to reserve a book for you 🙂

      • Reply Gail Scott Wilson December 30, 2017 at 11:15 am

        Thanks, have a good transition into 2018. See you on the other side.

  • Reply justin chamblee December 30, 2017 at 11:50 am

    Thank you Thank you Heather. What an amazing year it’s been where I actually learnt something new for all 52 weeks! *LOL* Thank you for your Blog and the contribution you made. Best wishes to you for 2018!

    • Reply 2summers December 31, 2017 at 12:40 pm

      Thanks Justin. Glad to hear you enjoyed the series.

  • Reply stanmorrison72 December 30, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    So pleased to know that you will continue feeding us with your creative blogs into the future. Wishing you great success and satisfaction in 2018, and looking forward to seeing where you will take us next.

    • Reply 2summers December 31, 2017 at 12:40 pm

      Thanks Stan!

  • Reply autumnashbough December 30, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    My husband and I were talking about where we’d like to travel someday and I told him, “South Africa! Because I know all the best places now!”

    He gulped and said we’d better start saving.

    • Reply 2summers December 30, 2017 at 9:43 pm

      The good news is, once you get here it’s very cheap. (You just have to take my advice so you don’t get ripped off.)

  • Reply Sine December 30, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    Well done Heather, I love everything about this post. I wish I was still in Joburg so I could have gone along to many of these with you. My first thought when I started reading this summary was “she’s got to write a book about this.” Glad to read at the bottom that that’s what you are planning to do. Many good books have come out of yearlong challenges, like “Year of living biblically” (must-read if you haven’t yet, especially with the Jewish connection:-), and “Julia and Julia’. Let me know if you need any help with e-book publishing or anything like that, I’ve become a pro. Or paperback for that matter. Maybe we could trade some services, as I’m still interested in getting my books into some local stores but it’s hard from so far away!

    • Reply 2summers December 30, 2017 at 9:41 pm

      Hi Sine, thanks so much! I’ll be in touch 🙂

  • Reply thirdeyemom December 31, 2017 at 3:47 am

    Congratulations Heather on quite an accomplishment! I think it is amazing what you’ve done and yes a book for locals or tourists alike would be amazing. People love this kind of information when exploring a place. I’m sorry that you had such a tough year and I sincerely wish you a wonderful 2019. Time to turn the page and move forward! 🙂 Take care! Nicole

    • Reply 2summers December 31, 2017 at 12:38 pm

      Thanks so much Nicole, and same to you. I assume you mean 2018 and not 2019. Time does fly but hopefully not that fast! Haha.

      • Reply thirdeyemom January 1, 2018 at 6:23 pm

        Opps! Yes 2018! Hard to type on my iPhone sometimes! Happy New Year and keep shining! I’ve enjoyed following you for all these years 😌

        • Reply 2summers January 1, 2018 at 6:24 pm

          Likewise 🙂

  • Reply Lani December 31, 2017 at 3:59 am

    Congratulations. What a massive accomplishment! And so glad it helped you through the year to boot. Happy New Year! Any new projects for 2018?

    • Reply 2summers December 31, 2017 at 12:42 pm

      I’m not going to do anything quite this big. But I’ve got some smaller projects in mind 🙂

  • Reply Charmain December 31, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Thank you, Heather, for #Gauteng52 – I loved every post and followed in your footsteps in a few cases (the printer in Fordsburg; Chocoloza; beading with Beauty). I love your blog and look forward to 2018’s adventures. May the new year bless you with peace, love and magic. Lots of love to the Mellville Cat too!

    • Reply 2summers December 31, 2017 at 12:37 pm

      Thanks for the comment Charmain! I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying the blog.

  • Reply mzansigirl January 10, 2018 at 12:33 am

    Well done Heather. Loved following this series and learnt so much from it!

    • Reply 2summers January 10, 2018 at 5:46 pm

      Thanks friend 🙂

    Leave a Reply

    %d bloggers like this: