|List||National Heritage List|
|Legal Status||Listed place (07/11/2008)|
|Place File No||3/03/001/0279|
|Summary Statement of Significance|
The Adelaide Park
Lands and City Layout is
a significant example of early colonial planning which has retained key
elements of its historical layout for over one hundred and seventy years.
The 1837 Adelaide Plan attributed to Colonel William Light and the establishment of Adelaide marks a significant turning point in the settlement of Australia. Prior to this, settlement had been in the form of penal colonies or military outposts where the chief labour supply was convicts.
The Colony of South Australia was conceived as a commercial enterprise based on Edward Gibbon Wakefield’s theory of systematic colonisation. It was to be established by free settlers who would make a society that would be ‘respectable’ and ‘self-supporting’.
The Adelaide Plan was the basis for attracting free settlers, offering certainty of land tenure and a high degree of amenity. Being formally laid out prior to settlement, with a grid pattern and wide streets and town squares, the Plan reflected new town planning conventions and contemporary ideas about the provision of common or reserved land for its aesthetic qualities, public health and recreation.
The Plan endures today in the form of the Adelaide Park Lands and City Layout. The key elements of the Plan remain substantially intact, including the layout of the two major city areas, separated by the meandering Torrens River, the encircling Park Lands, the six town squares, the gardens and the grid pattern of major and minor roads.
The Park Lands, in particular, are significant for the longevity of protection and conservation and have high social value to South Australians who regard them as fundamental to the character and ambience of the city of Adelaide.
The national significance of the Adelaide Park Lands and City Layout lies in its design excellence. The Adelaide Plan is regarded as a masterwork of urban design, a grand example of colonial urban planning. The city grid and defining park lands were laid over the shallow river valley with its gentle undulations, described by Light as the Adelaide Plains. The city layout is designed to take full advantage of the topography, an important innovation for the time. The streets were sited and planned to maximise views and vistas through the city and Park Lands and from some locations to the Adelaide Hills. A hierarchy of road widths with a wide dimension to principal routes and terraces and alternating narrow and wide streets in the east-west direction were featured on the historic plan. Features within the Park Lands area included a hospital, Government House, a school, barracks, a store house, a market and a botanic garden and roads.
The tree planting designed and implemented since the 1850s and the living plant collection of the Park Lands, particularly within the Adelaide Botanic Gardens are outstanding features. The encircling Park Lands provide for health and recreation for the inhabitants while setting the city limits and preventing speculative land sales on the perimeter.
The emphasis on public health, amenity and aesthetic qualities through civic design and provision of public spaces were to have an influence on the Garden City Movement, one of the most significant urban planning initiatives of the twentieth century. Ebenezer Howard, the founder of the Garden City Movement cites the Adelaide Plan as an exemplar in his Garden Cities of Tomorrow.
Even before this influence, however, the Adelaide Plan was used as a model for the founding of many towns in Australia and New Zealand. It is regarded by historians and town planners as a major achievement in nineteenth century town planning.
The Adelaide Park Lands and City Layout is also significant for its association with Colonel William Light who is credited with the Adelaide Plan and its physical expression in the form of the Adelaide Park Lands and City Layout.
The City of Adelaide is divided into two distinct sectors that
straddle the River Torrens, the City centre to the south, and suburban North Adelaide. The City has a hierarchical grid street
pattern, contains six town squares and is entirely surrounded by Park Lands.
The city of Adelaide
was originally laid out as 1042 town acres and in some instances the original
boundaries are still evident. South Adelaide, the city centre comprises 700
acres while the North Adelaide residential
area covers the remaining 342 acres. Six squares were laid out within the City
The city streets are organised into four blocks, with the City centre encompassing one large block, and North Adelaide three smaller blocks. The siting of the blocks reflects the topography of the area, with the main block situated on generally flat ground and the other three blocks, each at an angle with the others, on higher land in North Adelaide. The main block, the City centre, is defined by four major roads: East Terrace, North Terrace, West Terrace and South Terrace. In total, eleven original streets traverse the City east-west and six original streets traverse it north-south. Nine streets which traverse the City east-west culminate in the centre at King William Street which also defines name changes for the streets running east-west. The streets are primarily named after key historical figures: Rundle, Grenfell, Pine, Flinders, Wakefield, Angas, Carrington, Halifax, Gilles, Gilbert, Start, Wright, Gouger, Grote, Franklin, Waymouth, Currie and Hindley Streets. The central streets in this grid, Wakefield and Grote Streets are marginally wider than the others, to illustrate their greater importance. The City also contains numerous minor streets that were constructed within a few years of survey, but were not part of the original plan.
North Adelaide comprises three smaller grids in which the majority of original streets run east-west. The major grid of North Adelaide is defined by Barton Terrace, Lefevre Terrace, Ward Street and Hill Street, with O’Connell Street as the major thoroughfare and Wellington Square in the centre.
The streets in both the City centre and North Adelaide are broken up intermittently by six town squares before they culminate at the Park Lands. Five squares, Victoria, Hurtle, Whitmore, Hindmarsh and Light Squares are located within South Adelaide, while Wellington Square is in North Adelaide. Some squares have been altered with the road ways around and through some of the squares changed, both from an urban design perspective and to address traffic management issues. The substantial design of each Square, except Victoria Square, remains intact. These changes reflect changing aesthetic tastes and requirements in the twentieth century.
Each square retains a distinct character, with different development on the edges. The form of Victoria Square remains, but its design, driven primarily by traffic changes, has changed markedly. It is no longer a focus for the City for pedestrians. It has retained a primarily public function with and office development around its perimeter. Hurtle and Whitmore Squares are more residential, while Hindmarsh and Light Squares accommodate more commercial uses. Wellington Square, the only square in North Adelaide, is surrounded by primarily single storey development, but of a village character, which includes a former shop, former Church and public house.
The squares contribute to the public use of the City, providing open green spaces for residents, workers and visitors who value them highly.
The Park Lands comprise over 700 hectares providing a continuous belt which encircle the City and North Adelaide. The Park Lands vary in character from cultural landscapes, to recreational landscapes, and natural landscapes. Some areas are laid out as formal gardens, other areas have a rural character and others are used primarily for sporting uses.
The Park Lands act as a buffer to the City Centre, and also provide both passive and active recreational uses to the community. They are the setting for numerous public functions, and serve an aesthetic function in defining the city. The Park Lands are visible from many parts of the City and North Adelaide and form end points for vistas through the City streets. They contribute to views out of the City, together with the distant views of the Adelaide Hills in the background, as well as providing views into the City. The visual character of the Park varies with its many uses - formal gardens and lawns, informal parks of turf and trees, a variety of sports fields, with associated buildings and facilities. The Adelaide Park lands have been valued by many South Australians over time for their aesthetic qualities, and as a place for recreation and other community activities.
The Park Lands are described as a single feature, yet they vary in character greatly from area to area. Some areas are laid out as formal gardens, others have a rural character and others are used primarily for sporting uses. The Park Lands also accommodate many other, mostly public, uses in areas identified as reserves by Light, such as the West Terrace Cemetery and the Governor’s Domain, as well as in other areas alienated from the original Park Lands as defined by Light, such as the civic uses of North Terrace and Victoria Park Racecourse. Many cultural institutions occupying the Park Lands: the Botanic Gardens, Zoo, the State Library, Migration Museum, the Art Gallery, the SA Museum, Government House, Parliament House, the Festival Theatre and Playhouse, the Convention Centre, the Parade Ground, the hospital, Adelaide University and Adelaide High School. Other reserves include the Torrens linear park, Government Walk, the Parade Ground, the Pioneer Women’s Gardens, the Adelaide Oval and two public golf courses.
Today there is little physical archaeological evidence remaining in the Adelaide Parklands of Aboriginal occupation and of the pre-colonial landscape.
The South Australian Old and New Parliament Houses is entered into the National Heritage List (Data Base No. 105710). The Adelaide Park Lands and the City of Adelaide Historic Layout and Park Lands are listed in the Register of the National Estate (RNE) (Register Nos: 6442 and 102551). The following places are individually listed within the RNE: the Zoological Gardens (Register Nos: 8593 and 18585), the Botanic Gardens (Register No. 6433), the Elder Park Bandstand (Register No. 6351), the Women's War Memorial Gardens (Register No. 14568), the Adelaide Oval and Surrounds (Register No.19236), Victoria Park Racecourse (Register No. 18546), Art Gallery of South Australia (Register No. 6396), Barr Smith Library (within the University grounds) (Register No. 6365), Bonython Hall (within the University grounds) (Register No. 6368), Brookman Hall (Register No. 6382), Catholic Chapel, West Terrace Cemetery (Register No. 6357), Cross of Sacrifice/Stone of Remembrance (Register No. 14568), Elder Hall (Register No. 6367), Government House and Grounds (Register No. 6328), Union Building Group, Margaret Graham Nurses Home, Adelaide Oval Scoreboard, Yarrabee, River Torrens (outside Adelaide City), Institute Building (former), Bank of Adelaide (former), Tropical House, Main Gates, Botanic Gardens, Watch House, Catholic Chapel, Chapel to Former Destitute Asylum, Mitchell Building, Albert Bridge (road bridge), Schoolroom to Former Mounted Police Barracks, Historical Museum, Mortlock Library, South Australian Museum, Art Gallery of South Australia, Old Parliament House, Old Mounted Police Barracks, Adelaide Gaol (former), Powder Magazine (former) and Surrounding Walls, North Adelaide Conservation Area, Victoria Square Conservation Area, River Torrens (within Adelaide City), Mitchell Gates and Fencing, Adelaide Railway Station, Administration Building and Bays 1 - 6 Running Shed, South African War Memorial, Royal Adelaide Hospital Historic Buildings Group, North Adelaide Railway Station, Old Grandstand, Hartley Building, Torrens Training Depot, University Foot Bridge, Adelaide Bridge, Torrens Lake Weir and Footbridge, Rose Garden Fountain and Botanic Garden Toolshed.
Over 70 places in the Adelaide Park Lands are entered in the South Australian Heritage Register. Most notably these include the institutions along North Terrace, including the Adelaide Railway Station, Old and New Parliament Houses, and buildings belonging to the State Library and South Australian Museum, Art Gallery of South Australia, University of Adelaide and Royal Adelaide Hospital (SA Heritage Branch, 2005).
At the time of settlement, the Adelaide Plains were occupied by Kaurna people, whose descendants continue to maintain connections with their traditional lands. It is unclear as to how long the Kaurna people have occupied the area, however it would be thousands of years as sites on Kangaroo Island have been dated to the Pleistocene at 21,000 years (Jones 2007:32). The River Torrens or Karrawirra Parri was an important resource for Aboriginal people that provided the most reliable water source in the area and abundant marine and bird life. It is believed that occupation patterns across the area would have been between the estuary and the hills (Jones 2007:32).
The colony of South Australia was founded in 1836, after the colonies of New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania had been established. Unlike the other colonies, South Australia was not established as penal settlement, but rather as a commercial venture. Established fifty years after the colony of New South Wales, the colonisation of South Australia was carefully considered by the British government.
Edward Gibbon Wakefield was concerned about the instability that land speculation and social problems had caused in these earlier settlements, and sought to find the right conditions for the success of new colonies. Wakefield developed his theory of systematic colonisation, believing that careful planning would provide a balance between land, capital and labour and thus the conditions for economic and social stability. He promoted the establishment of South Australia as a model colony that would be settled on this basis.
In 1834, Wakefield’s ideas were partially realised when legislation was passed that provided for the establishment of South Australia. The colony would be overseen by the British Government through the Colonial Office, but with land, emigration, labour and population matters managed by a Board of Colonisation Commissioners. The South Australian Company was established in 1835 to expedite the sale of land in the colony, and much of the colony of South Australia had been planned, advertised and sold before the colony was settled.
The Board of Colonisation Commissioners was formed in May 1835. GS Kingston (1807-1880), civil engineer, architect and later politician, was employed as Deputy Surveyor. The Commissioners appointed Colonel William Light (1786-1839) as Surveyor-General early in 1836. He had experience in ‘infantry, cavalry, navy, surveying, sketching and [an] interest in cities’ and had initially been recommended for the position of Governor of South Australia. BT Finniss (1807-1893) and H Nixon were also employed with Kingston as surveying staff, and they arrived in South Australia in August 1836.
The Commissioners gave Light sole responsibility for choosing the site of the colony’s first town and clear instructions about its planning:
‘When you have determined the site of the first town you will proceed to lay it out in accordance with the Regulations…’ and ‘you will make the streets of ample width, and arrange them with reference to the convenience of the inhabitants, and the beauty and salubrity of the town; and you will make the necessary reserves for squares, public walks and quays’ (Johnson 2004:12-13).
The Commissioners also directed Light to ‘look to any new town precedent in America and Canada’ for guidance. The grid plan was by then an established planning convention for colonial new towns in the English-speaking world. It probably had its origins in Roman military camps, and was first used by the English for fortified towns or bastides during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the grid pattern making it easy to collect property taxes. The grid plan was later evident in the plans developed for colonial new towns. Many of the new towns established in Upper Canada and in the southern colonies of North America in the eighteenth century had gridded plans and one or more town squares. William Penn’s Philadelphia (1687) was followed by Charleston (1672). In Savannah (1733), and a number of other towns in Georgia, a belt of encircling parkland was also provided. Savannah was laid out by social reformer Oglethorpe who influenced Granville Sharp, a British anti-slavery campaigner and utopian who attempted to establish model towns for freed slaves in which he promoted the benefits of the grid and greenbelt (The Adelaide Review 2004:2).
In around 1789, the Governor-General of Canada, Lord Dorchester, developed a model town plan for use by surveyors in Upper Canada, probably with the assistance of Captain Gother Mann, a commander of the Royal Engineers in Upper Canada. The model for inland sites was one-mile square, with regularly spaced roads and one-acre lots. It was encircled by a belt of reserved land that provided a barrier between the township and surrounding farm lots.
In 1788, Mann prepared a plan for Toronto, in which the town would be one mile square, with a grid system of streets, five symmetrically positioned squares and a sixth square that opened to the waterfront. As with Dorchester’s model, it was provided with a belt of reserved land. This plan, which was not actually used for Toronto, has been described as ‘a blueprint for successive new towns in Canada, Australia and New Zealand’.
In the 1790s, the newly appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, Colonel John Graves Simcoe, promoted the use of Dorchester’s and Mann’s town designs, including the ‘park belt’ idea, as a model for the surveying of Upper Canada. It has been argued that the use of common or reserved land for ‘enclosure and separation’ became an established planning convention during this period.
A number of model plans for new towns were also developed in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries with provision for a belt of park lands around the town. In 1794, a model plan was developed by the English social reformer Granville Sharp, outlined in A General Plan for Laying Out Townships on the New Acquired Lands in the East Indies, America, or Elsewhere. It had a grid road pattern, a central square and a strip of common land that surrounded the town lots.
In 1830, retired English naval officer Allen Gardiner published Friend of Australia under the name of TJ Maslen, outlining his idea of a model town for the Australian colonies. He suggested that ‘a park [should] surround every town, like a belt one mile in width’ and that ‘all entrances to every town should be through a park, that is to say a belt of park of about a mile or two in diameter, should entirely surround every town, save and excepting such sides as are washed by a river or lake’. He included the park lands for health, recreation and aesthetic reasons.
In 1833 the House of Commons Select Committee considered 'the best means of securing Open Spaces in the vicinity of Populous Towns, as Public Walks and Places of exercise' …to study 'the relationship between general health in densely populated towns and the psychological and recreational value of public open spaces' (Johnson 2004). The report found that there was a need for more open spaces in cities, and that ‘during the last half century many enclosures of open spaces in the vicinity of towns have taken place and little or no provision has been made for public walks or open spaces, fitted to afford means of exercise of amusement to the middle and humbler classes’. Reformers like John Arthur Roebuck campaigned against the enclosure of traditional commons and argued that towns should be provided with parks and gardens for ‘health and recreational purposes’.
The Board of Colonisation Commissioners were possibly influenced by the social utopian and utilitarian ideas of Robert Owen and Jeremy Bentham. Wakefield and Bentham had collaborated in developing ideas for the colonisation of South Australia, and Bentham advocated a ‘principle of spatial containment and concentration with social and economic control’. Around ten years before the settlement of South Australia, Owen wrote about his ideas for self-supporting cooperative communities or ‘villages of unity and mutual cooperation’. The idea was essentially for a ‘town in a building set in open space’ and was similar to Bentham’s ‘industry-house establishment’. In both instances, spatial elements would shape and control the social relations within the town.
The Adelaide Park Lands may have been provided as a form of enclosure that would concentrate the population in the City and control the supply and value of land, ideas that could have been derived from the work of Wakefield and Bentham. It has also been argued that South Australia’s planners sought to control social relations by utilising a town layout that maximised the visibility of the population and encouraged people to form small social groups within well-defined areas. Possibly it was used as a form of concentric zoning that was intended to shape economic and social relationships. Providing democratic access to public lands for health and recreation were other reasons. It has also been suggested that the park belt was intended to provide protection from a perceived threat of attack by Aborigines.
Social and economic context
The study by City Futures Research Centre (2007 Vol 2:183) notes that the design of Adelaide was a crucial part of British planning for the new colony of South Australia as a self-supporting land settlement, and the city’s plan forms the most enduring and tangible evidence of that colonial experiment. South Australia was the last of the colonies to be settled and was intended as a free settlement. British intentions for establishing South Australia were different to those for New South Wales and Western Australia.
The colony was founded by British legislation in 1834. Control of all the land was delegated to a Board of Colonization Commissioners with proceeds from the sale of land to be put towards an Emigration Fund. This new approach to planting a colony applied the Wakefield principles of systematic colonisation, concerning land, labour and capital. Instead of granting free land to settlers, land was to be sold, and the proceeds used to fund the emigration of free settlers (labourers) to the colony. The scheme involved advanced planning, and controlled land survey before settlement. The new city (named by royal request after Queen Adelaide) was planned as ‘bait’ to attract capitalist investors by purchase of cheap city sections, while the generous layout also reflected the aspirations of British reformers, and their hopes of developing a new, more civilized, social order in Australia (City Futures 2007 Vol 2:183).
In 1836, the Commissioners appointed Colonel William Light as Surveyor General, and instructed him to select the site and plan the new capital. Light’s plan of 1837 included nine ‘Government Reserves’, and indicated the likely future routes of roads through an encircling belt of park lands to the port and country lands. Other areas of the park lands have also since been alienated for uses including new street alignments, railways and public and recreational buildings, but most of these functions have played significant roles in the historical development of South Australia, and in terms of the Adelaide Plan, they have maintained, or increased, the intended public use of the park lands and squares (City Futures 2007 Vol 2:183).
The Garden City Movement had a profound effect on town planning in the early twentieth century. Social reformer Ebenezer Howard had referred to the Adelaide Park Lands in his influential book Garden Cities of Tomorrow (1902). Mumford believed that Howard had introduced the Greek concept of colonisation by fully equipped communities, in line with the views of social reformers like Robert Owen and Edward Wakefield (Mumford 1961:586). The London based Garden City Association advanced Howard’s ideas as a model for city planning and organisation. The City Beautiful movement promoted the creation of new parks, boulevards and street beautification by linking aesthetics with growth. The Garden City movement endorsed garden suburbs with generous open spaces amongst other characteristics. Influenced by Howard, the ideology of civic beautification started to develop at the start of the twentieth century in Australia (Sulman 1919).
Reflecting the significance of the Adelaide Plan, there has been intense debate both about the plan’s origins, and its planners. The principal role of South Australia’s first Surveyor General, Colonel William Light, has been affirmed, with acknowledgement of major contributions by George Strickland Kingston. Light, as instructed, looked at other examples of the planting of towns of this kind for ideas about its layout, and several sources can be identified. The South Australian Colonization Commission in London appointed Kingston Assistant Surveyor in 1835, and he supervised preparation of a preliminary ‘Plan of Town’ by other surveying staff, Boyle Travers Finniss and Edward O’Brien. This notional plan was used to raise funds for the new colony through ‘preliminary purchases’ of town acres (City Futures 2007 Vol 2: 183-184).
Light was appointed Surveyor General in 1836, and departed in that year with a group of surveyors, including Kingston and Finniss. They were sent ahead of the first settlers to locate and lay out the new capital and survey the surrounding country lands in advance of other development. Light was given clear responsibility for selecting the site, but little was said in his instructions about the plan except that it was to be spacious, with wide streets, squares and public reserves, and in accordance with ‘Regulations for the preliminary sales of colonial lands in the country’. These included the requirement of creating a town of 1,000 one-acre lots (the final total, including the squares and places, was 1,042), and these Town Acres are still recognized by the city’s planners (City Futures 2007 Vol 2:184).
The choice of site was critical, and was done only after careful reconnaissance. Light’s selection of the site of the capital city and seat of government was decided in December 1836, and the city was laid out in January-March 1837 with opportunism informing the placement of the layout on the landscape. Light reserved encircling ‘Park Lands’ on his Map of ‘The Port And Town of Adelaide’ (1837) which also delineated nine Government Reserves on the park lands. Two of these, the Government Domain (including the present site of Government House), and the (West Terrace) Cemetery were used as designated, and remain in those locations today, forming significant elements of the surviving Adelaide Plan. Another Government Reserve was indicated for a Botanic Gardens. Although these were established elsewhere in the park lands, they represent another feature of the original Adelaide Plan, as well as a significant designed element in their own right, dating from the preparation of the first botanic gardens plan (1850s) for Australia (City Futures 2007 Vol 2:184).
With a grid street pattern, systemic provision of town squares, and defining parkland, the 1837 city plan of Adelaide combined numerous physical planning ideas and innovations of the colonial era. Many influences have been identified, from ancient Roman camps to ideal city plans such as William Penn’s Philadelphia and James Oglethorpe’s Savannah, as well as more abstract models including Granville Sharp’s ideal township of 1794 and T.J. Maslen’s ideal town in his The Friend of Australia (1830). Most of the Adelaide Plan’s elements were not novel but their arrangement on the ground was an inspired response to site and opportunity, and represented the culmination of the whole colonial planning movement of the time (City Futures 2007 Vol 2:184).
The Adelaide plan, with its three layers of town land, parkland and suburban land, was later used as a model for many of the towns surveyed in South Australia, such as Gawler, Mylor and Alawoona, and the Northern Territory, particularly between 1864 and 1919. The government had a substantial role in creating and planning South Australia’s towns, unlike the other Australian colonies where speculative development led to more varied results. South Australia’s surveyors provided some parkland in around half of the towns established prior to 1864, probably in imitation of the Adelaide plan. In 1864, Surveyor-General G W Goyder provided instructions to his staff that all new towns should have encircling park lands, and that town land should be laid out in the form of a square, with the roads at right angles to each other, and with five public squares. The parkland town remained popular until 1919, when South Australia’s newly appointed town planner, Charles Reade, recommended that it no longer be used.
The study by City Futures (2007 Vol 1:97) notes that 'the town was surveyed in two stages. The major portion of 700 acres south of the river was laid out first. The fretted edge on the eastern side took advantage of the local topography and provided more lots with a parkland outlook. The northern section was broken into three parts to reflect the land form and address the river: a small section of 32 lots closest to the river, a larger section with a western edge serrated by steep slopes, and a third eastern section whose layout secures the required number of lots ‘in a triumphant coda in the north-east where the last three lots turn west with a final flourish’. North Adelaide was destined to be predominantly residential and South Adelaide commercial. The rectangular grid plan oriented to the cardinal directions is distinguished by the encircling parklands and six town squares, five in South Adelaide. Government offices and other civic buildings were to be grouped around the largest, central square. The street layout features an alternating system of narrow and wide streets in the east-west direction, with the two principal routes and the terraces being made wider still. Few north-south streets were inserted apparently due to Light’s concern with the effect of hot northerly summer winds'.
The Adelaide Plan displayed all of the key elements that made up the ‘grand modell’ of the era, including: a policy of deliberate urbanisation, or town planning, in preference to dispersed settlement; land rights allocated in a combination of town, suburban and country lots; the town planned and laid out in advance of settlement; wide streets laid out in geometric, form, usually on an area of one square mile; public square; spacious, standard–sized rectangular plots; plots reserved for public purposes; and a physical distinction between town and country, by common land or an encircling green belt (City Futures 2007 Vol 2:184).
The Adelaide Plan has provided a robust framework for the development of the central city and has been an important influence on its attractive and scenic character. Whilst the Plan was essentially a one-off morphological design rather than a comprehensive urban plan, it was also lauded from the nineteenth century onwards within modern town planning circles. The 1893 meeting of the Australian Association for the Advancement of Science recorded universal credit to Light for his selection of the site and for the design of Adelaide. The early Australian planning movement celebrated its originality. The leading architect-planning advocate John Sulman singled out Adelaide as an exception to the usual prosaic planning of Australian towns, and A.J. Brown and H.M. Sherrard made the same assessment in their 1951 textbook for a later generation of planners (City Futures 2007 Vol2:184).
The Adelaide Plan was interconnected with the international and post-colonial planning movement when used in Ebenezer Howard’s manifesto, Garden Cities of Tomorrow (1902) to illustrate ‘the correct principle of a city’s growth’. The plan also influenced the Garden City movement that developed at the turn of the century. In Garden Cities of Tomorrow, Ebenezer Howard cited Adelaide as an example of an existing city that conformed to the Garden City idea,
‘Consider for a moment the case of a city in Australia which in some measure illustrates the principle for which I am contending. The city of Adelaide, as the accompanying sketch map shows, is surrounded by its ‘Park Lands’. The city is built up. How does it grow? It grows by leaping over the ‘park-lands’ and establishing North Adelaide. And this is the principle which it is intended to follow, but improve upon, in Garden City.
Based on ideas of cellular and constrained expansion, Howard’s garden city movement had an international impact. The plan of Adelaide was an undoubted influence on Howard’s thinking, and the connection underpins its planning heritage significance (City Futures 2007 Vol 2:184).
A number of towns in New Zealand were also based on the Adelaide plan, including Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Invercargill, Wanganui, Hamilton, Alexandra, Clyde, Cromwell, Gore, Port Chalmers and New Plymouth. In Wellington, a crescent-shaped town belt was provided, and in conjunction with the harbour it encloses the city and separates it from the surrounding land. It remains substantially intact.
History of the Adelaide Park Lands
The site for the City of Adelaide was selected by Colonel William Light, South Australia's first Surveyor General, in 1836. The city was laid out as two distinct sectors on either side of the River Torrens and the whole area was surrounded by a continuous belt of parkland, now known as the Adelaide Park Lands.
The original plan for Adelaide set aside 2300 acres for the Park Lands, with provision for nine blocks to be ‘received out of the Park Lands for various government building or other purposes’. These included the Government domain, Botanic Gardens, School, Store House, Guard House, Barracks, Hospital, Cemetery and Immigration Square.
In 1839 Governor George Gawler purchased the Park Lands to ensure that they remained intact ‘for the inhabitants of the city’. The Park Lands came under the care, control and management of the Adelaide City Council in 1849. At that time a large area had already been claimed for governmental functions. In 1856 the South Australian Institute was created by Act of Parliament and land sought for an Institute Building. In 1860 seven sections of the area between North Terrace and the River Torrens, originally part of the Park Lands, were allocated as a government reserve for various government and institutional purposes (Adelaide: A brief History: 2-3). Since then the total area alienated for all purposes is approximately one third of the 2300 acres. These developments include the Art Gallery, Festival Centre, Museum, Botanical and Zoological Gardens, State Library, University of Adelaide, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Police Barracks, Observatory, the Railway Station and Adelaide High School. In recent times, a number of commercial developments have been permitted in the Park Lands, including the Hyatt Regency Hotel and the Adelaide Convention Centre.
During the first decades after European settlement, the Park Lands accommodated stone quarries, clay and lime pits, a mill, extensive olive plantations and rubbish dumps, all of which altered its original character and landform. In 1840, a slaughterhouse was established in Bonython Park and it remained in operation until 1910. Adelaide's first cemetery was established in the western Park Lands in 1837, and there is evidence that the first game of Australian Rules football in South Australia was played in the northern Park Lands in April 1860. The Park Lands were also used for the pasturing of sheep, cattle and horses.
Especially in the early days of the colony, the Park Lands were under constant threat of land acquisition, and activities such as tree felling and quarrying. From some of these activities, substantial Council revenue was generated and by the 1850s the Park Lands had been denuded of trees to such an extent that a Council replanting program was commenced.
A number of formal gardens, recreational facilities and sporting grounds were established in the Parklands, including the Zoological Gardens (RNE Nos. 18593 and 18585), the Botanic Gardens (RNE No. 6433), the Elder Park Bandstand (RNE No.6351) and the Women's War Memorial Gardens (RNE No.14568). The South Australian Cricket Association began to develop the Adelaide Oval after it was established in 1871 (RNE No.19236) and the South Australian Jockey Club established Victoria Park Racecourse in 1847 (RNE No.18546).
The Adelaide Botanic Garden developed from 1855 by the inaugural director George William Francis who also established foundational tree plantings in the Park Lands. Francis was succeeded by Dr Richard Moritz Schomburgk in 1891 who provided trees from the Garden's nursery for planting in the Park Lands and squares (Jones 2007: 37-40).
William O'Brien was appointed as City Gardner in 1861, implementing the horticultural and design frameworks of the Park Lands and Squares work that was continued by William Pengilly (Jones 2007). Large-scale tree planting schemes were further encouraged by Adelaide's Lord Mayor, Sir Edwin Smith, in the 1870s to beautify the Park Lands. John Ednie Brown proposed a planting design, A Report on a System of Planting the Adelaide Park Lands (1880) that illustrate the Gardenesque planting style and as Conservator of Forests was a principal source of trees (Jones 2007, 40) Jones (2007) notes how the gardener August Pelzer implemented the Brown plan and undertook continuous landscape design improvements. The Park Lands landscape development was continued by Owen Smyth and to the mid 20th Century William Charles Douglas Veale. (Jones, 1998:36) (Jones 2007, 38-50, Volumes 2 and 3).
At this time, many eucalypts were replaced with ashes, elms, poplar and other exotics. By the late 1930s, much of the present road network was in place, and roads now define the edges of the Park Lands. After World War II the use of the Park Lands intensified considerably. During the 1950s the City Council initiated a number of projects to develop the Park Lands, including a large landscape garden (Veale Gardens) in the South Park Lands in 1958, a swimming centre in the North Park Lands in 1967, a par 3 golf course, a restaurant overlooking the River Torrens in 1960 and the Festival Theatre complex in Elder Park in 1974.
At the time of settlement, the Adelaide Plains were occupied by Kaurna people, whose descendants continue to maintain connections with their traditional lands. The natural ecosystems which made up the country prior to European settlement were swamp, woodland, mallee, grasslands and forests. In part the landscape was the result of Aboriginal occupation, which included seasonally burning of the land to reduce undergrowth and regenerate plant growth. European settlers were attracted to the Adelaide plains, according to Ellis (1976: 7) because its lightly-timbered open grassland resembled English countryside. With the establishment of Adelaide, the park lands gained particular significance for Aboriginal people as places to gather and camp on the fringes of the city.
The River Torrens was a major corridor of economic and cultural activity for camping, gatherings and ceremonies, burials, and the movement of food and resources. The river corridor continued to be an important gathering place after European settlement. For example, Tarndanya Womma/Park 26 was where Aboriginal people met before visiting Government House for rations and blankets, and prior to enlistments for World War I.
There are two important Kaurna sites within the Park Lands including the red kangaroo dreaming, or Tarnda Kanya in Tarndanya Womma/Park 26, which is associated with the Torrens River and a former excavated rock, referred to as the red kangaroo rock which was once located at what is now the Festival centre (Jones 2007). While the other important site is a central camping place, or headquarters for the Tarndanya clan, located at Tarndanyangga/Victoria Square (Jones 2007:32).
With the establishment of Adelaide, the Park Lands gained particular significance for Kaurna people as places to gather and camp on the fringes of the city. The Park Lands continue to be significant to Kaurna and other Aboriginal people because of the pre-historic and historic association with the place. Such representative places include the camping sites where people camped prior to and since European settlement; the gathering and meeting places; the various stone artefacts uncovered in the area; and the West Terrace Cemetery where many Aboriginal people were buried since Europeans arrived.
The Aboriginal Flag designed by Harold Thomas, was first flown at Victoria Square, in Adelaide, on National Aboriginal Day on 12 July 1971. The flag later became universally recognised as a representation of Aboriginal identity, and its association with many Aboriginal activists and protests, including its long association with the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Canberra.
The Adelaide Parklands have been valued by many South Australians over time for their aesthetic qualities, and as a place for recreation and other community activities. The community groups included the Park Lands Defence Association (1867-87) and the Parklands Preservation League formed in 1903 which was succeeded by the Adelaide Parklands Preservation Association.
The Adelaide Park Lands Act 2005 arose from political debate and friction between the State Government and City Corporation about the management, identity and role of the Park Lands. The scope of the Act includes both the Park Land blocks as well as the Squares including the North Terrace promenade (Jones 2007:62).
|Condition and Integrity|
The Park Lands
and the layout of the City of Adelaide
remain substantially intact and still recognisable as the 1837 Plan. The
original plan is evident in the boundaries of the City, the width and layout of
the main streets, the belt of Park
Lands, the squares and
remnant town acres. |
The alienation of the Park Lands from general public access has been occurring since they were laid out, primarily for public uses. Approximately one third of the original area has now been alienated for other purposes. The Adelaide City Council has the ‘care, control and management’ of approximately 74 percent of the originally designated Adelaide Park Lands, which is around 1700 acres, and these areas are generally well maintained (RNE No.102551: June 2001). New road routes, primarily through the Park Lands link the City and North Adelaide with the suburbs.
The City and North Adelaide were originally divided into one-acre blocks. Few entire one acre blocks remain although it is possible to discern the original boundaries of the town acres in some instances (particularly in North Adelaide where the town acres were often subdivided into four blocks). These sites tend to primarily be in the ownership of government and church, including use by schools and hospitals.
The area now known as the cultural and institutional precinct along North Terrace contains institutions such as the University of Adelaide and the Art Gallery of South Australia which form a visual barrier between the northern and southern parts of the Light Plan. These institutions have also acquired heritage significance. The Railway Station, a hotel and convention centre adjoining it were alienated from Park Lands in the western part of North Terrace.
The City contains numerous minor north-south streets constructed within a few years of survey, that were not part of the original plan. In addition, Frome Road was cut through the western part of the City in the 1960s, and runs from Angas Street to North Terrace. In other instances, streets were realigned or extended through the Park Lands to link Adelaide with the surrounding suburbs. For example, King William Street was realigned in the early twentieth century to link North Adelaide and the City, Kintore Avenue was extended from North Terrace down to the River Torrens and the alignment of Montefiore Hill which leads to Light’s Vision, an outlook point at North Adelaide over the City, was changed to create a major thoroughfare from Morphett Street to Jeffcott Street. Numerous roads were built through the Park Lands to connect with the suburbs, including Glover Avenue, Burbridge Road, Goodwood Road, Sir Lewis Cohen Avenue, Peacock Road, Unley Road, Hutt Road, Wakefield Street and Rundle Road. War Memorial Drive was built as a war memorial along the River Torrens. Medindie Road, Lefevre Road, Main North Road, Prospect Road and Jeffcott Street were all extended from North Adelaide through the Park Lands to link with the suburbs.
Of the six squares, the changes to Victoria Square, the central and largest Square, are the most noticeable. Victoria Square was planned to be a focal point for the City but it has become surrounded by office development around its perimeter. The Square has been encroached upon by King William Street, which has had an impact on views through the square. Hindmarsh, Light and Hurtle Square have also been subdivided by roads. Whitmore Square and Wellington Square are the most intact of the squares.
About 900ha in Adelaide
and North Adelaide, defined as follows:|
1. an area with an outer boundary defined by the boundary of the City of Adelaide local government area.
2. Within 1. above, the following areas are excluded. Areas 1. and 2. have boundaries that are defined by the road reserve boundaries of the named streets, such that each road reserve is included in the place:
Area 1: North Terrace, East Terrace, South Terrace and West Terrace
Area 2: Three smaller grid areas located in North Adelaide bounded by the following streets: Barton Terrace West, O'Connell Street, Barton Terrace East, Lefevre Terrace, Kingston Terrace, Kingston Terrace East, Mann Terrace, MacKinnon Parade, Brougham Place, Sir Edwin Smith Avenue (originally named Roberts Place), Pennington Terrace, Montefiore Hill, Strangways Terrace, Mills Terrace.
Area 3: Railway land owned by Rail Track Corp Ltd, Australian National Railways or SA Minister for Transport comprising the following Lots: (D34345 A5, D15497 A29, D30327 A53, F22072 A23, A24 and A25, D46426 Q5, F14185 A22, F14184 A19, A20, D56872, A58 and A59, F1485, A16 and A17, D58245 A20, F11089 A23, and portion of closed road marked X3 on GRO127/2006).
Area 4: University of Adelaide North Terrace campus comprising the following Lots: Lots H105100 S1205, S1206, S1207, S737, S694, S693, S695, S592, D51367 A11.
Area 5: University of South Australia City East Campus comprising Lot D28393 A1 and Lot H105100 S593.
Area 6: Royal Adelaide Hospital precinct comprising Lots D51367 A12, A13 and A14; H105100 S614 and S762.
Area 7: State Library (H105100 S510), Museum (H105100 S561), Art Gallery of South Australia (H105100 S562) and Lots H105100 S610 and S745.
Area 8: Government House and grounds (H105100 S755 and S757), Old and New Parliament Houses and grounds (H105100 S747 and S748).
Area 9: The Festival Theatre, Adelaide Casino, Convention Centre and Adelaide Railway Station Area comprising the following Lots: D46426 Q3, D46426 A9, D59055 A100, D59055 Q101 and Q102, D46426 Q1, D46426 Q2 and Q6, D38136 A104.
Area 10: Lots H105100 S1015; S549, S1203, S1204, that part of S6027 between D46426 Q5 and North Terrace/Port Road, Port Road railway bridge; that part of Montefiore Road and road reserve extending from its intersection with North Terrace in the south and its intersection with the northern loop of Festival Drive in the north, and Lot H105100 (Tramway).
3. Notwithstanding the areas excluded in 2. above, the following areas are included in the place:
(a) six squares and three gardens being: In North Adelaide - Wellington Square, Palmer Gardens and Brougham Gardens and in Adelaide - Victoria Square, Hindmarsh Square, Hurtle Square, Whitmore Square, Light Square and East Terrace Gardens (comprising F217542 A50 and F39233 Q1), and
(b) the grid of major roads (including the whole of each road reserve) consisting of the City centre grid defined by four major roads: East Terrace, North Terrace, West Terrace and South Terrace; the following streets traversing the City east-west: Hindley, Currie, Waymouth, Franklin, Grote, Gouger, Wright, Sturt, Gilbert, Rundle (Street and Mall), Grenfell, Pirie, Flinders, Wakefield, Angas, Carrington, Halifax and Gilles, the following streets running north-south: Morphett, King William, Pulteney and Hutt; and
(c) three smaller grids in North Adelaide including the following major streets (including the whole of each road reserve): Barton Terrace East, Barton Terrace West, Mills Terrace, Strangways Terrace, Montefiore Hill, Lefevre Terrace, Hill, Jeffcott, O'Connell, Childers, Buxton, Gover, Molesworth, Tynte, Barnard, Archer, Ward, Brougham Place, Palmer Place, Kermode, Pennington Terrace, King William Road, Sir Edwin Smith Avenue, Kingston Terrace, Kingston Terrace East, Mann Terrace, MacKinnon Parade, Jerningham, Stanley, Melbourne and Finniss.
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Report Produced Tue Jul 22 21:44:40 2014