During the late 1860′s, gold diggers from around the world came to Mpumalanga in search of gold. The first major gold diggers camp (even before the gold rush to Pilgrim’s Rest) was situated at Mac Mac (halfway between Sabie and Graskop – just below the current Mac Mac Forest Retreat). The first gold commissioner in the area, Major MacDonald, was situated at this camp.

When the late President Burgers from the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek heard of the amount of gold found, he decided to investigate. When he arrived, he was very surprised with the amount of Scottish people at the camp. He decided on the spot to call this place Mac Mac because of all the MacClaclans, MacDonalds, McFees, etc. It was from Mac Mac where the diggers explored and eventually found gold around Pilgrim’s Rest.

Mac Mac later became the forestry offices for the Mac Mac Plantations. During the late 1990′s, Coen and Sonja Vermaak used the old forestry station and forester houses to start the Mac Mac Forest Retreat. During August 2006, the Mac Mac Gold Panning Club was formed at Mac Mac Forest Retreat.

During the year Mac Mac Forest Retreat hosts the Mac Mac Gold Panning Club’s competitions. During these competitions the Club attracts 30 – 80 enthusiastic competitors. These competitors are anything from 5 years to 85 years young.

The Mac Mac Gold Panning Club is affiliated to the South African Gold Panning Association and uses the rules of the World Gold Panning Association.