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Home of the Wattle Grove

Golden Wattle Park / Mirnu Wirra (Park 21W)

Did you know that ‘mirnu wirra’ is the Kaurna word for Golden Wattle?

photo-icon State Library of South Australia, PRG 280/1/17/203, circa 1915
photo-icon Women from the Soldiers' Mothers' Association assembled at Wattle Grove in the Adelaide parklands for an Anzac Day service, State Library of South Australia, SRG 168/1/58/46, circa 1927
photo-icon John Ednie Brown
photo-icon Sir Lewis Cohen

The Golden Wattle is known as mirnu to the Kaurna people. The Kaurna people are the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the Adelaide Plains. The gum secreted from the mirnu was a staple food for the Kaurna people and the trees were particularly widespread throughout the Adelaide Plains.

Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha) has long been a strong symbol of patriotism in Australia, with its significance increasing around the time of Federation in 1901. This park was home to a very early World War I memorial which was dedicated less than six months after the Gallipoli landing which it commemorates.

The Wattle Grove World War I War Memorial was erected in the Wattle Grove in the east of this park on 7 September 1915. In 1919, at the end of World War I, a single wattle was planted, having been dropped from an aeroplane to commemorate the role of Australian aviators in the war. Each year a memorial service was held at the Wattle Grove on Wattle Day. Some remnant wattles remain in the east of this park.

In 1940 the Dardanelles Memorial was moved from the Wattle Grove to Lundie Gardens in the north-west of this park. It was then relocated again to Kintore Avenue in the city as part of the Anzac Centenary Memorial Walk.

The Sugar Gum (Eucalyptus cladocalyx) avenue which crosses this park was planted in the 1930s and is a good example of the importance of avenues in providing shade and beauty throughout the Park Lands.

John Ednie Brown (1848-99) was South Australian Conservator of Forests (1878-90). His 1880 ‘Report on a System of Planting the Adelaide Park Lands’ explained how to plant avenues which responded to climatic concerns, recognising that ‘fine shady walks should form a marked feature in the landscape’ and use a single species of tree. The Report was the first large-scale landscape design proposal for a public park in South Australia, if not Australia.

This park, together with Veale Park / Walyu Yarta, formerly consisted of a single park. Sir Lewis Cohen Drive, named after the Lord Mayor at the time, was opened in 1906 to create two parks.

The early colonists were very efficient at clearing the original natural vegetation of the Park Lands. In 1849 a German settler was overwhelmed at the extent of development in Adelaide and wrote:

“at first we couldn’t believe our eyes and stood as if stunned, for nobody understood how it was possible that a country in such circumstances could have roads and bridges where nine or ten years previously no European had set foot.”

There are native species regenerating in this park, including many grasses (Austrostipa sp.), which are cared for by the City of Adelaide’s biodiversity team.

City of Adelaide acknowledges the traditional Country of the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains and pays respect to Elders past and present. We recognise and respect their cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with the land. We acknowledge that they are of continuing importance to the Kaurna people living today. We also extend that respect to other Aboriginal Language Groups and other First Nations.

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