Heritage & folklore trail

Last updated 23 Feb, 2023

Heritage & Folklore takes you on a journey through history. Discover at your own pace, the city's popular pedestrian mallstrip, then and now. Having undergone multiple changes in the last decade, listen to and learn about the highlights of some of the beautiful heritage listed facades located above the shop fronts, signage and canopies in Australia’s first pedestrian mall. The mall was opened by Premier Don Dunstan on 1 September 1976.

There are two ways to enjoy this self-guided tour.

Without audio

Use the interactive map below and explore the heritage facades along Rundle Mall.

With audio

The self-guided tour with the audio provided in the interactive map offers a uniquely immersive experience. It is best experienced with earbuds or headphones.

Pick up a copy of this self-guided trail and map at the Adelaide Visitor Information Centre, 25 Pirie Street, Adelaide, Monday - Friday.

Download the PDF

Now home to Haighs Chocolates, this building started off as a drapery. A bee has always adorned the building in some way.

By 1850 the western entrance to Rundle Street was framed by two significant buildings.

Occupying one of the prime sites in the City of Adelaide, the previous Beehive Corner building was a simple two-storey structure with a chamfered corner. It housed the offices of architect Edmund Wright, the Adelaide Times newspaper and a drapery shop named the Beehive, which had a gilt beehive decorating the front door. This earlier building was replaced in 1895-1896 with this ornate three-storey neo-gothic revival style complex for then owner, Henry Martin. It was designed by English and Soward and incorporates a gold bee on the corner.

Below the canopy:

Haighs delicious South Australian Chocolates

Above the canopy:

Although always adorned with a Bee in some form or another, the original drapery building was simpler and only two storeys. The building was also once home to the Adelaide Times.

Waterhouse Chambers, a group of shops and offices built in 1847-1850 for Thomas Greaves Waterhouse.

Occupying the other prime corner of Rundle Mall is Waterhouse Chambers, a group of shops and offices built in 1847-1850 for Thomas Greaves Waterhouse. Thomas, a financier, and his brother John operated a grocery business on Rundle Street before returns from the Burra copper mine enabled Thomas to build these chambers. Thomas was the director of the South Australian Mining Association which occupied the building. Waterhouse Chambers remains one of the oldest office developments in Adelaide.

Below the canopy:

SA family owned Charlesworth Nuts

Above the canopy:

These chambers were raised by Thomas Waterhouse, director of the South Australian Mining Association. The site is one of the oldest remaining office facilities in the city.

This building was constructed in 1922. It was built by W. Essery to the design of architect E H McMichael.

In 1870 Charles Cawthorne began work with his father in a newsagent's business in Morphett Street. They became partners in 1884 and soon occupied part of a new building in Grenfell Street; now advertising as 'music-sellers and artists' colormen'. By 1887 Charles ran the business alone and by 1896 Cawthorne's were carrying sheet music from sixty publishers from England, France and Germany. The firm acted as a box-office for most musical events in Adelaide, and by 1900 were also printing and publishing original compositions. In 1911 a prime site in Rundle Street was leased and named Cawthorne's Building. This building was constructed in 1922. It was built by W. Essery to the design of architect E H McMichael.

Below the canopy:

The Jurlique Store - Globally loved, South Australian made skincare products.Book a farm tour of Jurlique, just 40 minutes away in the Adelaide Hills.

Above the canopy:

Although the sign now reads Peregrine (another iconic Australian Business), it once read Cawthorne’s, prolific contributors to the local music scene. Producing sheet music, vending performance tickets and even writing their own compositions.

Opened in 1916 as the Grand Picture Theatre, the handsome five storey facade is all that remains of this theatre.

The Grand Picture Theatre opened on 30 November 1916 for the Lord Mayor and other dignitaries before it officially opened to the public the next day with ‘The Fool’s Revenge’. In the early 1930’s, the auditorium was modified to an Art Deco style, and the name changed to the Mayfair Theatre. In 1953, the auditorium was modernised and the theatre began screening long runs of major films, projected onto the 40 feet wide screen. It was re-named Sturt Theatre and was under the ownership of the Greater Union Theatres chain. The theatre closed in 1976, and was remodelled into offices. The handsome five storey facade is all that remains of this theatre which was built for sole proprietor Alfred Drake to the design of architects RRG Assheton & AJC Assheton.

Below the Canopy:

Cotton On and Typo

Above the Canopy:

This grand old art deco facade is all that remains of what was once one of the largest theatres around, when changed to the Mayfair in the 1930s she was fit to hold over 900 Adelaidians. In it’s later years known as the Sturt Theatre it’s said to have operated a screen as big as 40 feet wide.

When commissioned in 1960-61, this was the largest single building project in Adelaide at the time.

In 1960-1961 architects Hassell & McConnell were commissioned to design this new commercial building for David Jones department store on the site of Charles Birks & Co Ltd. Comprising ten floors and a basement, and with a total floor space of almost ten acres (four hectares), this was the largest single building project in Adelaide at the time. Designed in the ‘International’ style, it was fitted with the latest technology, including air-conditioning, artificial lighting and fire protection, as well as eight lifts and twelve escalators. On completion, the building was considered the most modern department store in Australia. Following David Jones’ decision to build a new store further east, an unsuccessful attempt was made to have this building included on the Heritage Register. Once ownership changed, windows were cut into the upper floors.

Below the Canopy:

Rundle Plaza (Sportsgirl, JBHifi, Swarovski)

Above the Canopy:

With a floor space of four acres and designed in an international style with airconditioning and artificial lighting, in the early 60’s this must have a been a sight to see.

Rundle Mall is home to a bronze sculpture of a group of life-sized pigs, officially known as 'A Day Out' by Marguerite Derricourt. The four pigs - Truffles (the standing pig), Horatio (the sitting pig), Oliver (the pig at the bin) and Augusta (the trotting pig) - are depicted in lively poses as if they were walking the street, greeting shoppers, and sniffing out a bargain.

The group sculpture was unveiled by the former Lord Mayor, Dr Jane Lomax-Smith, on 3 July 1999. A public competition was run to name the pigs.

Built in 1925, it was the headquarters of the noted firm of Allan's who supplied pianos and other musical instruments to Adelaide.

This group of three buildings form an interesting 1920s frontage to the street. This building was constructed in 1925 to the design of architect E. H. McMichael. It was the headquarters of the noted firm of Allan's who supplied pianos and other musical instruments to Adelaide for a large span of time (now merged with Billy Hyde’s). This building may have been built on top of an early two storey building already on site as the arch headed windows on the first floor seem to be configured the same. The recent glass curved addition was a good attempt to match the Georgian-style bay windows of the building next door.

Below the Canopy:

Sportscraft, Sketchers

Above the Canopy:

At a time Allan's and Company was the largest purveyor of it's kind south of the equator. Musical instrument retailer Allan's was established in 1850 on Collins Street in Melbourne. They later in 1925 set up shop in Adelaide.

One of the more unique buildings on the street both when it was built and today.

When CJ Young’s Shoe Co. was rebuilt in 1925-1926, it was described as an artistic addition to the architecture of Rundle Street (now Rundle Mall). Novel methods were used to rebuild the shoe store. In order to allow business to proceed, the architects Charles W Rutt and Lawson, had to arrange for the top storey to be built first. This was done by implanting a number of girders into the walls of the two neighbouring buildings, which had also recently been rebuilt. The Georgian style facade is dominated by the large bow window giving the building a distinctive appearance. The glazed bricks were ultra-modern at the time and are still unusual in Adelaide today.

Below the Canopy:

Wittner Shoes

Above the Canopy:

One of the more unique buildings on the street both when it was built and today. The rounded facade and glazed bricks certainly stand out against the rest.

Constructed for Birks Chemist, a chain that would later pop up in several locations around South Australia.

This building was constructed in 1925 for Birks’ Chemists to the design of architects McMichael and Harris.At 18 years of age, George Napier Birk obtained a position as a pharmaceutical apprentice with Mr F H Faulding in his chemist shop at 5 Rundle Street. After four years Birk moved to regional South Australia. In 1875 George’s brother, William Birk, took over a pharmacy business at 51 Rundle Street. The next year George returned to Adelaide and together they established a book and fancy goods business at 60 Rundle Street. The pharmacy then moved to this location. Sadly, the partnership dissolved in 1894 and George set off to join ‘New Australia’, a Utopian community in Paraguay. William sold the business in 1906 to Mr Percy Rupert Robertson Magarey.

Below the Canopy:


Above the Canopy:

Constructed for Birks Chemist, a chain that would later pop up in several locations around South Australia. George Napier Birk, the then proprietor, had been working with FH Faulding, a famous Australian Pharmaceutical name.

This is one location on this walk you don't have to look up. Photos are all that remains.

This section of Gawler Place is noticeably wider than the southern side of the mall. That is because the old York Picture Theatre was demolished in 1960 as part of a council road widening project. The York Theatre had a rather narrow entrance considering the 1700 people seating capacity of the building with offices above. It was built for the Greater Wondergraph Theatres chain and was designed by CA Smith. The theatre opened on 5th November 1921. The side-walls of the auditorium had painted landscapes, representing Australasian scenery, the work of decorator George Coulter. The York Theatre was taken over by the Greater Union Theatres chain in January 1929. It was modernised in 1938 when it became a first run release house for MGM films.

Check out a colourised version of this photo here.

Edments Cash Stores specialised in jewellery, clocks and watches.

This building, designed by Kenneth Milne & Evans in conjunction with Barlow & Hawkins (Melbourne), was built so they could diversify their range to include “E P Ware, Perfumery, Brushes, Pipes and Razors and All Fancy Goods”. The new seven storey building, including the basement, was considered to be one of the most modern and advanced in design technique and sheer size. Its basement which went down 24 feet deep was reported to be the deepest in Adelaide at the time. Façade of brick and white cement. Bronze panels and metal framed windows. The elaborate deep bronze cornice which surmounted the building has since been removed.

Below the Canopy:

Strandbags, Jeanswest

Above the Canopy:

At the time of its construction - this seven storey building with a 24 foot deep basement would have been a whopper. The store specialised in jewellery, perfumes, pipes, razors, what were then 'categorised as fancy goods'.

The cafe associated with iconic Australian baker and confectioners Balfours.

Within a year of his arrival to Adelaide, James Calder had returned to his calling of baker and confectioner. His early years of business were a struggle, the manufacturing methods were laborious and tedious, and the machinery capable of only a limited production of goods. In 1877, Calder took on his nephew, John Balfour, as his business partner. Calder & Balfours continued to expand and more properties were purchased until 1882 when Calder was forced to retire due to bad health. By 1894 Balfour declared himself insolvent and used property to pay back his debt. A new firm began in 1901 under the name and guidance of Elizabeth Balfour (John’s wife) and business was better than ever! The new café was innovative because the building envelope is independent of the internal structure. The building has a large steel and glass curtain wall to the Rundle Mall frontage surrounded by abstracted Classical details, in particular the monumental pilasters.

Below the Canopy:


Above the Canopy:

The Rundle Street cafe associated with iconic Australian baker and confectioners Balfours, although not the original location, this location represents the new firm established by Elizabeth Balfour, a time of coming success for the brand we know today.

Mayfield's were initially a hardware supplier. However, the premise has been used for several different trades throughout its time.

Built in circa 1905 to the design of English and Soward, it was originally a larger building (6 bays in width), however a portion (2 eastern bays) were demolished when the Regent Cinema was built. The four eastern bays had separate shop fronts while the western two formed the frontage of Mayfields ironmonger premises, which opened into a warehouse (later described as a factory) at the rear. Mayfields was purchased by the ironmongers Crook & Brooker and the adjoining two shops by importers and manufacturers, A W Dobbie & Co. The addition of the steeply pitched terracotta tile roof and the rendering of the brickwork were undertaken in the early 1920s.

Below the Canopy:

Cross Cut, JW Cox

Above the Canopy:

Although today you can only see two of the five segments of this building, it's clear to see what a unique and striking piece of architecture it must have been. Mayfield's were initially a hardware supplier. However, the premise has been used for several different trades throughout its time.

The most opulent theatre on Rundle Street (now Rundle Mall) was the Regent Theatre, built in 1927-1928 to the design of architects Cedric, Ballantyne & Associates of Melbourne and English, Soward & Jackson of Adelaide. The elaborate plasterwork was done by Hopkins Pty. Ltd. Described as ‘Australia’s most luxurious theatre’ and a ‘palace of art’ when it opened on 29 June 1928, the Regent’s lavish interior featured seats for 2,298 patrons, marble stairs, portraits, tapestries and a sculpture. There was provision for a stage and full orchestra. A large Wurlitzer organ, now in Memorial Hall at St Peters College, played at movie screenings. Suitably, a grand charity variety show filled the stage on the Regent’s last night as a grand cinema in 1967 before the stalls and downstairs foyer were converted into an arcade and the stage space used as part of a second cinema. This smaller version cinema survived until 2004.

An eclectic mix of specialty shops can be found in the Arcade. A great spot to shop! Look out for locally made gifts, home-wares and fashion.

The large Rundle Central sign, not in a dissimilar style, once read Coles.

Harry Norris, a Melbourne based architect, travelled overseas to study the latest in retail architecture for this new store for GJ Coles Pty Ltd. This 1939 building is a standout in the Art Deco catalogue of Adelaide buildings and is often mistaken for a late 1950s modern style design. A commanding curved corner mounted with a vertical neon sign spelling out COLES was visible from well down Rundle Street - expressing the departure from the traditional rectilinear carved stone designs of the past. The entire façade is clad with orange tiles - a bold statement of colour!

Below the Canopy:

Cibo - a South Australian coffee icon

Above the Canopy:

The large Rundle Central sign, not in a dissimilar style, once read Coles. A perfect example of the streamlined art deco architecture coming through internationally. This building marks a departure from the traditional look the strip had been known for.

Adelaide Arcade

Adelaide Arcade, the first arcade erected in Adelaide, opened in December 1885 and was funded by Saul Solomon, Lewis Henry Berens, Joachim Matthias Wendt, Robert Carr Castle, Hermann Koeppon Carl Wendt, Emanuel Cohen and Patrick Gay.

The design by architects Withall and Wells is the most important of their work to have survived and the extensive use of high quality materials, extravagant detailing and electric lights suggest that the firm was extremely progressive. During the depression, Adelaide Arcade offered one year’s free lease to tenants.

Gays Arcade, with a frontage to Twin Street and connecting to Adelaide Arcade at right angles, was designed by James Cumming and opened the following year.

Rundle Fountain

This fountain is one of two fountains originally placed outside the old Exhibition Building on North Terrace (opposite the Pulteney Street intersection). It is a 19th century Victorian cast iron ornamental fountain manufactured by Handyside &Co Ltd of Derby, London and believed to be the first fountains erected in Adelaide.

Presented to the City of Adelaide in 1908, the larger of the fountains was placed in Creswell Gardens near the Adelaide Oval. The smaller was placed in Osmond Gardens in the South Park Lands in 1909. It was moved to the newly-constructed Rundle Mall in 1976 where it was placed at the intersection of Rundle Mall and Gawler Place. In 1995 it was moved to its present location outside Adelaide Arcade.

Fondly known by locals as the ‘Mall’s Balls’, these enormous spheres are the work of Bert Flugelman, an artist renowned for his imposing public art. Each sphere measures 2.15m in diameter and is constructed from polished stainless steel. The sculpture was commissioned by the City of Adelaide for the newly created Mall in 1977 and was donated by the Hindmarsh Building Society to mark their centenary.

Former glass, oil and colour business and theatre!

Located alongside the Richmond Hotel, this war-time 400 seat cinema, opened New Year’s Day 1943 as the Liberty. It was also known as the Curzon Theatre over the years. Described as ‘the aristocrat of intimate cinema’, it became Adelaide’s first art house, showing foreign films which were referred to as ‘sizzlers’. The large first floor display window was used to advertise its current attraction.

The building was originally constructed in 1901-1902 for H L Vosz Ltd (reputedly Australia’s oldest glass, oil and colour business) to the design of architects English & Soward. This business developed into Clarksons Ltd.

Below the Canopy:


Above the Canopy:

The Vosz Shop was a smaller theatre than others, but one of the largest in character, by design and projection it was the alternative cinema and played the first art house movies in town.

The Hotel Richmond is one of the ten oldest city pubs trading in its original location under its original licence.

Licensed from New Year’s Eve 1838 as the Cornwall Inn by William John Williams, the first publican, the hotel traded as the Plough and Harrow Hotel from 1844. After being rebuilt for the fourth time in 1927 to the design of Murray Richardson, it was renamed the Hotel Richmond after the birth place of the then owner Charles Richmond John Glover. His parents, publican Charles Peter Glover and his wife Hannah (nee Shortland), were involved with the hotel since 1859 and gifted it to him in 1903. The Richmond is one of the ten oldest city hotels trading in its original location under its original licence.

Below the Canopy:

Hotel Richmond

Above the Canopy:

Opening on New Year's Eve in 1938, it operated under several names over the years until it settled on Hotel Richmond in 1947.

Kithers Butchers was one of the first electrically lit shops in the street.

In 1857, William Kither Snr took over a butchery established on this site the previous year. William Jnr worked for his father, succeeding him after his death in 1869. By 1880, this Italian Renaissance style building, designed by Rees and Hornabrook, replaced the old shop. The premises captured popular attention when the South Australian Electric Company introduced the first commercial lighting in Adelaide here on a Saturday night in 1882. The first butcher’s refrigerator in Adelaide occurred here in 1884. Kither was known as the ‘knight of the cleaver’. He died in 1911; however the shop continued to operate until 1930, when it became the workshops of the glass merchants, Clarksons Limited.

Below the Canopy:

Footlocker, Dymocks

Above the Canopy:

Kithers is one of the oldest butchers in Adelaide - and the family name popped up all around town. Kither was known as the 'knight of the cleaver' and owned one of the first electrically lit shops in the street.

The glories of this building are in the facade of the upper two floors.

Its construction was made possible by a large inheritance which Samuel George Smith received from his father’s estate in the early 1860s. Tenders for erection of three shops were called for by architects Daniel Garlick and Son in 1886. The flamboyantly styled building was described as being ‘... built in the German treatment of the Renaissance... much the same style as that at present in vogue in the Fatherland’.

The glories of this building are in the facade of the upper two floors. The superb ornate plasterwork was done by Charles Vernon whose artisan touch can also be seen in his former home in Symonds Street, Adelaide.

Below the Canopy:

Boost Juice

Above the Canopy:

This eccentric design represents the renaissance of brickwork in German architecture at the time of construction. The detailed facades on the upper levels are more intricate than often seen on other buildings on the strip.