Midrand is a large municipality in central Gauteng Province, Region 2, South Africa, just north of Johannesburg, adjacent to Four Ways. The area comprises about 50,000 residents within 163.40 km2 (63.09 sq mi) and is well on its way to becoming a major city in its own right. As a significant industrial and international hub located in the economic heart of Gauteng, Midrand is home to many large-scale industries and international institutions. At the same time, development in Midrand has been balanced to ensure the preservation of its rural charm and to avoid urban congestion.
History and Attractions
The central Midrand area is still named “Halfway House” today, because it was once known as a rest stop halfway between Johannesburg and Pretoria. Over the past 100 years, the area has been developed for a number of important facilities, which were too grand to squeeze into any of northern suburbs of Joburg or in Joburg itself.
For example, the municipality of Midrand contains the Gallagher Estate conference center, Grand Central Airport, and the headquarters of the South African Civil Aviation Authority. Also, Gautrain rapid rail system station, the African Union’s Pan-African Parliament, the NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development) secretariat, some of the country’s major universities and business schools, including The Midrand Graduate Institute, and UNISA’s Graduate School of Business Leadership, and the Botshabelo Place of Refuge for disadvantaged children.
Midrand is a large area that contains smaller townships, many of which are popular destinations for their modern attractions with old town flavor. Kyalami, for example, is home to the world class Kylami motor speedway and the esteemed South African Lipizzaners equestrian show. Country estates and horseback riding, racing, and breeding are familiar themes in places like Beaulieu, Blue Hills, Glenferness, Randjesfontein, and Crowthorne.
Upscale townhome living is available in scenic developments like Carlswald. The charming suburb of Glen Austin is here too, where much the land remains unspoiled and has been classified as Agricultural Holdings so that the minimum property size is limited at 8500 square meters. This is also the site of the beautiful Glen Austin Bird Sanctuary and the world famous fireplace-bedecked restaurant, The Baron and Farrier.
Many of the small towns within Midrand offer rich historical and cultural attractions combined with modern conveniences. People from all over South Africa come to St Saviour’s Church in Randjesfontein to get married or simply explore its stunning grounds and stained glass windows, dating back to the original construction of 1868.
Then they go shopping in a trendy outdoor mall like the Carlswald Lidestyle Shopping Centre. Locals get away to President Park and the nearby Modderfontein Conservation area to relax in nature. Then afterwards, they might take in a polo match or a round of golf at several top notch venues including Wanderers, Linksfield and Houghton.
One day Midranders might be watching the Grand Prix at the Kyalami racetrack, and the next day they are getting up-close and personal with native wildlife at the Lory Park Animal and Owl Sanctuary. Midrand truly offers the best of both all worlds and something for everyone.
On weekends most townships have craft fairs and farmers markets, notably the Midrand Urban Market, where it has become a custom to buy a fully stocked picnic basket and relax under the nearest tree. For crafts and carnival attractions, places like the Irene Market at the Jan Smuts House Museum are worth a visit too. It would take years to run out of things to do in and around Midrand.
Climate and Living
The weather in Midrand is pleasant and mild year round. Between October and March, summer temperatures average 28°C / 82°F at mid-day, often cooling slightly due to brief rains in the afternoons. These are followed by clear, breezy nights. The winter climate is comfortable and dry with only a rare dusting of snow. Daytime temperatures can reach as high as 25°C / 77°F and nighttime temperatures rarely fall to 0°C / 32°F.
Being a metropolitan area, crime is a factor that must be considered after dark, but most parts of Midrand are safe and very family-oriented. The cost of living ranges from stately upper class estates in the agriculturally classified neighborhoods to very affordable urban living near the higher population centers. Midrand is different from Joburg’s other northern suburbs for its decidedly rural appeal, even though it is quite gentrified and increasingly industrialized. Midrand is equally valuable as an international venue for political, charitable, and cultural expos as it is valuable for its bucolic charm and natural scenery.
Midrand is unique among metropolitan areas in that it has powerful financial, industrial, and political muscles and even stronger ecological priorities. It can be summarized as having a harmonious, but multifaceted personality split between an organically growing urban powerhouse and a farm community dedicated to responsible growth and conservation.
There are dozens of places to live and stay, work and play, throughout Midrand, ranging from rural and elegant to urban and simple. Mix one half downtown Johannesburg with one half Pretoria and bush country, and the result is a sunny, vibrant, conveniently located city called Midrand.