Adelaide Squares and Monuments Tour, Adelaide

Adelaide Squares and Monuments Tour (Self Guided), Adelaide

Adelaide is a modern metropolis with spacious squares, both functional and beautiful, providing flexible spaces for the community and accommodating a variety of activities. There is also a multitude of historical monuments and statues found in the central quarters of the city. Wandering along the cultural North Terrace boulevard, you will pass by some of the most striking of them.

Most of these silent sentinels are of significance to South Australia's development, whether being a noteworthy person who has contributed to the social advancement and fabric of the society (such as Colonel Light, for instance), or a symbol to war (like the Boer War Memorial or the National War Memorial commemorating WW1 heroes) or a sports figure (like the cricket legend Don Bradman).

Most Australian cities have at least one statue of Queen Victoria. Adelaide is no exception and has quite a good one, donated by a brewer, Sir Edwin Thomas Smith, which stands in bronze in a square called, of course, Victoria.

Another notable piece close-by is the Captain Charles Sturt Statue – unlike the staid monuments of other prominent individuals in the Square, this one shows the subject in his working attire – of an outback explorer that he was.

Adelaide's Rundle Mall is a highlight of the South Australian capital. Alongside the historic shopfronts, it has rather quirky, post-Modern Two Balls sculpture (ideal for an unusual selfie), and a cute and novel attraction – Rundle Mall Four Pigs Statues. Apart from the fact they are bronze, these pigs look quite real. You can start a trend and rub their noses for luck!

To appreciate the elegance of Adelaide's squares and memorials, much loved by the locals and tourists alike, and to explore some of the city's outstanding sculptures in more detail, take this self-guided tour.
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Adelaide Squares and Monuments Tour Map

Guide Name: Adelaide Squares and Monuments Tour
Guide Location: Australia » Adelaide (See other walking tours in Adelaide)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 Km or 2.1 Miles
Author: Jane
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Victoria Square
  • Queen Victoria Monument
  • Captain Charles Sturt Statue
  • John McDouall Stuart Statue
  • The Spheres Sculpture
  • Rundle Mall Four Pigs Statues
  • National War Memorial
  • Boer War Memorial
  • Elder Park Rotunda
  • Don Bradman Statue
  • Colonel's Light Vision Statue
Victoria Square

1) Victoria Square

Victoria Square is the central square of Adelaide's five public squares. Also known as Tarntanyangga, the 5.9-acre square was created in 1837 by Adelaide founder, Colonel William Light. It was named by the Street Naming Committee after Princess Victoria. The name Tarntanyangga comes from the aboriginal language of Kaurna. It means "red kangaroo."

The square was originally a simple field with four pedestrian paths. Landscaping was added in the mid-19th century, but it remained mostly unchanged until 1894. At this time, a statue of Queen Victoria was added - the princess had become queen by now. Eventually, a statue of Colonel Light, the Three Rivers Fountain and the Aboriginal Flag were all added.

Victoria Square is surrounded by many of Adelaide's most important public buildings. Some of these include the Supreme Court of South Australia, the Federal Court of South Australia and the Adelaide Magistrates' Court. Historic buildings like the former post office, the Roman Catholic Cathedral Church of St. Francis Xavier and the historic treasury building are also nearby.

One of the most popular traditions in Victoria Square is the installation of an 80-foot Christmas tree each holiday season. It is also a regular spot for political gatherings and community events.
Queen Victoria Monument

2) Queen Victoria Monument

Located in the centre of Victoria Square in Adelaide is the statue honouring Queen Victoria. Victoria's dominion included the Australian colonies, which, after their federation in 1885, made her the monarch of this continent too.

The statue reflects the design originally executed by the English sculptor Charles Bell Birch for the Maharajah of ‘Oodeypore’ [Udaipur] in 1889. Birch later amended the 1889 model and recast the statue of the Queen for the entrance hall of the Imperial Institute in London. It was that amended design that Sir Edwin Thomas Smith, the future major of Adelaide, noticed whilst on a trip to the UK in 1893 and proposed to the Adelaide City Council as a replica monument for the city.

The statue was cast in England by Moore & Co. of Thames Ditton foundry. Smith specified that the bronze for it be made of Australian tin and copper from Wallaroo Mine or Moonta Mine; eventually the copper from Wallaroo was used. The red granite base and pedestal for the statue were designed by Mr Smeaton and quarried from the land near Palmer, South Australia. Carving of both did the monumental stonemasons Fraser & Draysey of Waymouth Street, Adelaide.

Inscribed simply with "Victoria R.I.", the statue was originally unveiled by Lady Smith on 11 August 1894. A few years later, it was symbolically draped in black as a sign of mourning following the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. For decades afterwards, a wreath laying ceremony was held at the foot of the monument each 24 May (or 23rd when the 24th fell on Saturday) to mark the anniversary of Victoria's birth in 1819. In May 2013 the statue was temporarily removed, cleaned and polished, as part of the upgrade of Victoria Square, and returned in December 2013 in a modified location.
Captain Charles Sturt Statue

3) Captain Charles Sturt Statue

The statue of Captain Charles Napier Sturt (28 April 1795 – 16 June 1869) commemorates the British explorer of Australia, soldier and public servant, who led several expeditions into the interior of the continent from Sydney and Adelaide. The expeditions traced several of the westward-flowing rivers in a bid to determine if there was an "inland sea".

In marked contrast to the staid monuments to Queen Victoria, Charles Cameron Kingston, and John McDouall Stuart, that are also found in Victoria Square, the Sturt monument was considered ‘the most alive’ in Adelaide, when unveiled on 21 December 1916. Standing in the triangular piece of garden in the north-west corner of the square, the life-size bronze statue depicts Sturt leaning forward, shielding his eyes from the sun with a raised right hand, as he peers into the distance.

Appropriately for an outback explorer, he's represented not in the finery, but in the rough clothing – pants and worn knee boots, with the sleeves of his open-necked shirt rolled up to the elbow, and a broad brimmed hat covering his head. In his left hand Sturt carries the tools of trade: a telescope and crumpled map; plus a compass hung on his belt, and a water bottle slung over his shoulder. Fixed to the pedestal (made of Murray River granite and Angasion marble) are the bronze plaques detailing important historical facts about Sturt, his main explorations, and members of his party.

The statue was created by the English sculptor and artist, Adrian Jones, using photographs from Sturt's daughter, Charlotte. The commissioning of the monument was not without controversy though, as Stunt's representation of was not favoured by the committee, but was insisted upon by his daughter.
John McDouall Stuart Statue

4) John McDouall Stuart Statue

The statue of John McDouall Stuart (1815 – 1866) commemorates a Scottish explorer of Australia, one of the most accomplished and famous inland explorers of the continent. During the late 1850s-early 1860s Stuart made several expeditions searching for pastoral country and minerals, exploring vast plains, and ultimately became the first European to have successfully crossed Australia from south to north and back again.

These explorations eventually resulted in the Australian Overland Telegraph Line being built, and the main route from Port Augusta to Darwin being established, which is now known as the Stuart Highway. For his trailblazing exploits, in 1861 Stuart received the gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society.

The statue was built through public subscription (commenced in 1896), and was partly subsidised by the State. The design was submitted by William Maxwell of Adelaide. After he died in 1903, the work was taken over by several men, led by James White of Sydney.

Unsuccessful attempts to find a suitable block of South Australian stone prompted marble being imported from Carrara, Italy. The statue rests on the base of New South Wales trachyte, topped by a bronze frieze featuring a Scottish Thistle. The pedestal features a globe with Australia in polished relief showing Stuart’s route; there are also names of the members of Stuart’s party inscribed on the side.

The unveiling ceremony took place on 4 June 1904 amid controversy. None of the four surviving members of Stuart’s final expedition attended the opening in protest against the selection of Maxwell’s design, arguing that it bore no resemblance to the real man, a “typical bushman he undoubtedly was”.

Despite the furore, or perhaps partly due to it, the memorial proved rather popular. A remembrance ceremony at the statue is held every year by the John McDouall Stuart Society.
The Spheres Sculpture

5) The Spheres Sculpture

Ever since opening in 1977, The Spheres sculpture on Rundle Mall in Adelaide has been a popular meeting point. Donated to the City by the Hindmarsh Building Society to commemorate the then newly-opened thoroughfare, and also to mark their own centenary that year, it remains perhaps the most successful example of public artwork in Adelaide, so seamlessly integrated into people's perception of a public place that it is rarely associated with the notion of 'abstract artwork'.

Originally dubbed 'On Further Reflection', over the following years this piece of art has become fondly known by locals as the “Mall's Balls”. People habitually say, “I’ll meet you at the Balls”. The image of the two connected spheres has also graced numerous T-shirts, key rings and posters, sometimes with the phrase “Adelaide’s Got Balls”.

The two larger than life (4-metre/13-ft tall) stainless steel balls measure 2.15 metres (7 ft 1 in) in diameter each. Balanced one on top of the other, The Spheres create elongated and distorted reflections of the surrounding streetscape, providing backdrop for countless tourist photographs.

The iconic landmark was created by Bert Flugelman, the Vienna-born artist who migrated to Australia at a young age and eventually became Head of Sculpture at the South Australian School of Art between 1972 and 1983. Of all Flugelman's creations, The Spheres is the most prominent reminder of his decade in Adelaide.

To create this massive piece, Flugelman worked with the local family-run firm Brister & Co. The spheres were made in halves, before being welded together and panel beated. There was some controversy in January 2013 when it was suggested that the sculpture be moved as part of the Rundle Mall upgrade. Fortunately, the Malls Balls were not moved and still remain the meeting place for many Adelaide shoppers.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Rundle Mall Four Pigs Statues

6) Rundle Mall Four Pigs Statues

On 3 July 1999, Rundle Mall welcomed new residents — a group of four life-size bronze pigs. The charming squeakers proved so popular with the public that a competition was held to name them as follows: Oliver (the one rearing up to dig through the rubbish bin for food scraps), Horatio (sitting), Truffles (sniffing the ground), and Augusta (observing the other three and greeting passers-by). A pertinent brass plaque with the name of each piggy and the person who named it is fixed accordingly.

Equally loved by children and adults, these cute hoggies, other than being a sheer fun to look at, don't mind being sat on or hugged for pictures. Seemingly indifferent to their celebrity status, they enjoy a great day out on the town, fooling and rooting around.

Created by South African-born, Sydney-based sculptor Marguerite Derricourt, the four grunters, she says, were partly inspired by Pietro Tacca’s 1612 fountain in Florence, Italy, that features the Il Porcellino (“piglet”) bronze sculpture of a boar.

As part of the 2013-2014 Rundle Mall upgrade, the pigs had a “night out” when they literally flew – hoisted by cranes onto trucks for a restoration, prior to being returned to their place on the mall. Some people reckon, the pigs symbolize shoppers sniffing out a bargain.
National War Memorial

7) National War Memorial

The National War Memorial is a monument commemorating the Australians who fought in the First World War. It was opened in 1931, funded by the State Parliament, thus becoming the first Australian state war memorial to be confirmed after the war.

Created by the architectural firm Woods, Bagot, Jory & Laybourne-Smith, the design—effectively a frame for two scenes depicted through Rayner Hoff's marble reliefs and bronze statues—shows the prelude and the epilogue to war. It illustrates both the willingness of youth to answer the call of duty and the extent of the sacrifices they made. In this, the work is not displaying a material victory, but rather a victory of the spirit.

Although the memorial was initially intended for the South Australians who served and fell in "The Great War" (nearly 35,000 and more than 5,000 respectively), parliament decided that it should be referred to as the "National War Memorial", in spite of the term already being used to describe the memorial to the South African War of 1899–1902.

Construction of the memorial began in 1928 with the cut and placement of marble blocks from Macclesfield and Angaston. The National War Memorial in South Australia became the fourth state World War I memorial to be opened when it was unveiled in 1931. In 2001, its 70th anniversary was marked by a three-month remedial project, set to restore the bronze and stonework details and reinforce the foundations. The work was completed just days before the Remembrance Day services.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Boer War Memorial

8) Boer War Memorial

The South African War Memorial (also known as the Boer War Memorial or, prior to 1931, the National War Memorial) is an equestrian memorial dedicated to the South Australians who served in the Second Boer War from 1899 to 1902. It was the first war in which South Australians fought; in total 1531 men saw action, 59 of them died. On each side of the 12-foot granite pedestal is a bronze plaque with the names of 59 South Australians killed in the conflict.

The pedestal was made from granite quarried from the nearby town of Murray Bridge. The construction budget of £2,500 was raised through public donations, and the design was done by the London-based sculptor Adrian Jones. While the statue itself was not intended to represent any particular soldier, there is evidence suggesting that the head of the rider was based on that of George Henry Goodall, a South Australian veteran of the Second Boer War.

Jones, who needed advice in regard to the accoutrements and attitude of Australian soldiers, consulted Goodall, who at the time served as Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant with the Australian Corps engaged in London at the coronation ceremonies for King Edward VII. A photograph of Mr Goodall, taken in 1902, indicates a strong facial likeness with the statue. Still, Goodall, who only posed for the head, insisted that his selection as a model was not based on any outstanding merit as a soldier.

Unveiled by the Governor of South Australia, George Le Hunte, on 6 June 1904, the monument has since become one of the focal points for the Anzac day marches, as well as being regarded as one of the most "eye-catching" and significant statues in the city. As such, it was added to the national heritage listing in 1990.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Elder Park Rotunda

9) Elder Park Rotunda

Back in the early 1880s, the Adelaide City Council proposed to dam the River Torrens in order to create a lake and construct a public esplanade to the west of City Bridge. Subsequently, Sir Thomas Elder, a wealthy businessman, pastoralist, parliamentarian and philanthropist initiated plans for a rotunda to be added to the lake side, for public enjoyment. In 1881 he wrote to the council from Scotland, offering to donate one.

Ultimately, Torrens Lake was created in 1881, transformed from a series of muddy waterholes into a navigable body of water, when the weir was opened. The rotunda, octagonal in form, 24 feet in diameter, with spandrels and canopied roof with overhanging eaves, surmounted by a domed cupola and bold finial with cast-iron railings, was fabricated by MacFarlane's Saracen Foundry in Glasgow and shipped over from Great Britain in 1882. The task of erecting it was taken by Charles Farr, who, for that purpose, raised the floor some 18 feet above the original ground level with approach steps of granite.

The Elder Park Rotunda was officially opened on 28 November 1882, with 2,000 guests attending the ceremony. A specially composed piece of music, The Rotunda March, was played at the event by the Adelaide City Council Brass Band.

Ever since then, the rotunda has been a focal point for recreation and entertainment in Elder Park, and a dominant, decorative element of the Torrens Valley, intimately tied to its beautification. The structure offers splendid panoramic view of the Lake, with a fountain and special lighting display, and for many years has been the venue of Saturday concerts. If you stand in the exact centre of the rotunda and clap once, the listening experience will surely surprise you!
Don Bradman Statue

10) Don Bradman Statue

Adelaide and cricket go together like horse and carriage, i.e. really bloody well. Cricket fans visiting the city certainly wouldn't want to miss out on a tour of the Adelaide Oval. And when they do, they can't help noticing the Don Bradman Statue outside the stadium. Indeed, this nearly 2.5-metre sculpture, standing on a 1.5-metre stone plinth, is very difficult to miss.

Sir Donald George Bradman (27 August 1908 – 25 February 2001), often simply referred to as "The Don", was an Australian international cricketer, widely acknowledged as the greatest batsman of all time. The cricket legend as he was made Adelaide Oval famous in 1930 after a record-breaking performance. Bradman played for Australia for 20 years and his career test batting average of 99.94 has been cited as the greatest achievement by any sportsman in any major sport.

The bronze statue in his honour, sculpted by Adelaide artist Robert Hannaford, was unveiled on 25 February 2002, one year after Bradman's death. Although Bradman retired from cricket in 1948, he still remains one of the most talked about sports persons of the past century.

As a tribute to this hugely popular icon of Australian cricket, whose reputation grew far beyond the limits of the sport, the Australian Commonwealth Treasury also issued coins with Bradman's image.
Colonel's Light Vision Statue

11) Colonel's Light Vision Statue

Distinguished soldier, sailor, linguist, musician and painter, Colonel William Light (1786–1839) was the first surveyor-general of Adelaide. He is largely responsible for designing the city's grid-like layout with parklands, known as "Light's Vision", which was truly ahead of its time.

This work was eventually acknowledged by the "Light's Vision commemoration" bronze statue, created by Scottish sculptor William Birnie Rhind. The monument depicts Colonel Light in the uniform of the British Royal Engineers, which was rather difficult to confirm in the 1830s, and so the statue took much longer to be cast than expected. It stands on a pedestal of textured and polished grey- and Murray Bridge red granite.

The inscription on the front of the pedestal reflects Light’s role in locating and planning Adelaide. On the back of the pedestal is a wreath added by the first Australian town planning conference held in Adelaide in 1917. Below the wreath is an extract from “A brief journal of the proceedings of William Light”, where Light thanks his enemies for giving him the sole responsibility of choosing the site of the city.

Initially installed in 1906, in Victoria Square, the statue soon proved to be a hazard to traffic there. In 1938, in time for the centenary of Light’s death, it was moved to Montefiore Hill, where it became the centrepiece of the balustraded garden lookout.

Until 2013, Light stood with his extended right arm pointing to the city below (his left hand holding a map). Legend has it that the Colonel indeed stood on Montefiore Hill in 1837, pointing at what would later become Adelaide's city center, and said: "This is the place for a city". Sadly, but the redeveloped Adelaide Oval now obscures the view and has lessened the impact of a visit to Light’s Vision.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

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