Victoria Square, Adelaide

Victoria Square is a famous public square in the city of Adelaide. Also known as Tarntanyangga, it is home to some of the city’s most prestigious buildings.

Victoria Square, Adelaide

It sits at the centre of Adelaide’s grid-like structure and is bordered by a number of important edifices, including the Supreme Court of South Australia, the old Treasury building, and the General Post Office.

To the east of the square, you’ll find the Roman Catholic Cathedral Church of St Francis Xavier and the State Government offices, while to the west, there are a selection of commercial buildings, like the Adelaide Central Market and the Hilton Hotel.

The History of Victoria Square

There is a firm link between Victoria Square and the local Aboriginal people. As it was once the place for special ceremonies and dances. Named Tarndanyangaa, as it is known in Aboriginal, marking the headquarters of the Dundagunya tribe. After the second world war, the indigenous community increase in Adelaide. Leading to tribes of Kaurna, Narungga and Ngarrindjeri all living in close proximately. As they found it difficult to integrate into Adelaide’s social life, the groups came together. Forming their own social group by socializing in public open spaces, such as the city square. Transforming the square as once again a place for Aboriginal cultural activities.

However, the activities soon evolved in the Square. From 1960s, Victoria Square was used as a place to await court appearances and attend personal matters. In 1970s Victoria Square was used for both social and political matters, with public protests occurring here. On 1971, Victoria Square was the very first place that unveiled the Australian Aboriginal Flag, which is a permanent structure of the square.

Victoria Square still continues to be used as a gathering place for social, political, and historical matters.

The Development of Victoria Square

The development of the Square began in when Colonel William Light and his team of surveyors drew up a plan of the colony’s capital. With the square planned to be relatively left as it was. This was a bit of a mystery, as many people had different theories on why William Light left the centre as is. It wasn’t until the mid-nineteenth century that Bishop Augustus Short, South Australia’s first Anglican Bishop, decided that Light’s intention would be for the Victoria Square to be a place of worship. Which led him to build a cathedral on the Southern section of the Square in 1855.

However, the Corporation of Adelaide disagreed with Short’s theory. Stating that space was for public purposes rather than believers of the Anglican Church. The matter went to court, and it was found that the Square was set apart as a recreational space for the community of Adelaide.

The design and planting of Victoria Square saw numerous alterations. With the first by George Francis 1854. With Francis’s planting a range of acacia, almond, olive, gum, and cypress trees in the Victoria Square. The next planting scheme was made by William O’Brien in 1865. Whom chose to plant a range of ornamental trees, while also setting up gravel paths and iron picket fencing.

Unfortunately, even despite the numerous works done on the centre, by the late nineteenth century, Victoria centre was slowly deteriorating. The removal and redevelopment of plants in the centre began, transforming the area into a grasser, lighter environment.

What to See in Victoria Square

  • Queen Victoria Statue

    At the heart of the square, you’ll find the imposing Queen Victoria statue which was based on a model by C. B. Birch. It was specially made from Wallaroo and Moonta copper and has been an important part of the square since 1894.

  • Reconciliation Plaza

    The road connecting Grote and Wakefield Streets was renamed Reconciliation Plaza in 2013. Today, it is home to two flagpoles that fly both the Australian National Flag and the Aboriginal Flag.

  • The State Survey Mark

    Set to the north of the square, the State Survey Mark is a reminder of the placing of the first peg for the Adelaide’s city survey back in 1837.

  • Three Rivers Fountain in Victoria Square

    Now set in the southern end of the square after it was relocated from the north, the Three Rivers Fountain has been in its current home since 2014. It was built to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Adelaide in the 60s. The sculpture is by John Dowie, and boasts a crown at the centre to represent the royal visit while the fountain represents the three rivers that flow in and around Adelaide.

  • The Locals of Adelaide

    It’s not just structures and greenery you can see here, with the Square always swarming with the local community. The water features bring a swarm of families, with kids running through the sprinkle of water as their parents sit back and laugh at the nearby steps. Couples come to enjoy a relaxing picnic in the greenery, soaking up the sun as they lie on the soft grass. Packs of skaters are found here at any time of day, skirting around the concrete paths and showing off their skills to anyone that will watch. Learning about the Adelaide culture can be easy from Victoria Square, with numerous events and festivals held here throughout the year. So make sure to check its activity calendar before you book your flights!

Victoria Square is an important part of daily life in Adelaide, whether it’s as a meeting place for locals or because of its selection of important and imposing buildings. Its historic charm is well worth checking out, particularly if you want to see modern day Australia working alongside the Australia of times gone by.

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