The Talana Museum, a prominent landmark in Dundee, is one of KwaZulu-Natal's must see attractions. Covering a total area of 20 acres, the Talana Museum is one of South Africa's largest museums with over 17 buildings. This museum is a tribute to the battle here in 1899 that started the Anglo-Boer War.
Talana Museum is not just a stuffy history lesson. For a more hands-on experience, you could go on a two hour return trail to the British forts in the nearby mountains, or take a trail to the Talana battlefield, the scene of a famous Anglo-Zulu battle.
Not far away from the Talana museum is the Thornley farm, which was known to be the headquarters of the Boers during the war of Talana. In fact, this was where the Boers held strategic discussions and also buried their dead soldiers. Buildings on the Thornley farm are on private land, but visitors can come and see evidence of the Boers’ strategy here.
You may also choose to visit the Mayheno Mission and the Smith Cottage. The Smith Cottage, takes you back to the days when Peter Smith used to farm and mine coal on this land. It was due to Peter’s efforts that Dundee established its niche as a coal centre of South Africa. It was here on Talana Hill that South Africa's first organized coal mining company, the Dundee Coal Company, was formed. What you can see here today is just the remains of the coal mines that once created the first prints for a rich and a vibrant economy.
The exhibits at the Talana museum are an archaeological delight, as the museum itself showcases far more than mere artifacts. Various displays highlight the lifestyles of the Bushmen and other indigenous people, especially the Zulus who were early inhabitants of the Kwazulu Natal province. A favourite display is of weapons used by the Brits and the Boers at the Battle of Talana during the Anglo-Zulu war.
The museum also houses displays correlated to the local industries, including the Console Glass Collection and the Chamber of Mines Coal Museum. Other treasures include a superb bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi, the great Indian freedom fighter, and a Bead Gallery with beads from the Indian and Western cultures.