Kathu is a mining town in the middle of nowhere and judging by its geography, it should be one of the last places that you'd expect to find an upmarket shopping mall.
But such the the wealth of the Sishen iron ore mine and other mining operations in the surrounding area that Kathu has become a town where you can almost hear the money sloshing around. The lavish salaries paid to staff to entice them to work in the back of beyond and the over-the-top bonuses doled out to retain them mean that the the real estate prices in this remote town rival those in Johannesburg and Cape Town and the disposable income per employee is among the highest in the entire country.
Small wonder then that the Kathu Village Mall is a lavish affair that eclipses anything that even Kimberley - the capital of the Northern Cape province and a far bigger and more significant town - can offer. All the major chain stores (with the notable exception of Woolworths) are represented, and as a result, this is an excellent place to go shopping if you're passing through. Road trippers will particularly appreciate a large and well stocked Spar which is likely to meet any traveller's needs.
Truth be told, you have to work quite hard to come up with tourist-friendly things to do in Kathu, but it's always nice to work with a challenge!
Even stranger, the most fun thing for a tourist to do in town is to be found at the Shell garage (service station) on the main N14 entering town from Kuruman. For some reason best known to itself, Kumba Iron Ore (a division of the mining behemoth, Anglo American) has decided to donate some of its redundant mining vehicles from its Sishen operation, which are on display in front of the garage and they make for quite a spectacle.
It's not until you stand up close to one of these machines that you get a sense of how truly massive they are. Admittedly I'm not a tall person, but to be able to stand in the bucket of an excavator with headroom to spare is quite something, as is realising that you don't even reach to the top of the hub cap on the dump truck's tyre!
Best of all, you are allowed to climb over the equipment, which makes this heaven for Little Boys (and grown up ones too). The driving distances in the Northern Cape are long and can be boring for small people in particular, so whilst you fill up your tank, you'd be well advised to allow them a few minutes to let off steam as they clamber over the machines. If nothing else, it's certainly the most original adventure playground that you're likely to encounter on your trip!