Afrikaans for ‘pretty river’ and it is named after the tributary of the Thukela River, which flows past it (Zulu – Mpofana)
Alexander Lawrence, the founder of Mooi River, came from Ireland. In 1884 the railway line reached the town and the railway station was built on the farm owned by Lawrence. JN Boshoff, who became president of the Orange Free State in 1855, previously owned this farm.
During the Anglo-Boer war, commandos invaded the district and a military hospital with 1 500 beds was set up in the area. The Weston Agricultural College has a legend that treasure was buried by the military somewhere in the school’s yard but, although generations of Weston students have searched, no trace of the treasure has yet been found.
The Rhode House was built around 1902 in the colonial style and is now a museum. As Mooi River is a dairy and polo-playing centre, displays on both these subjects as well as an interesting collection of photographs can be seen there.
Every month the largest stock sale in southern Africa takes place in Mooi River.
Stretches of the Mooi River near the town offers facilities for boating and fishing and several farms in the valley offer the chance of farm holidays with accommodation in huts and chalets.