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Light Square / Wauwi

Light Square / Wauwi

Light Square / Wauwi is one of six public squares in the City of Adelaide.

photo-icon Colonel William Light
photo-icon Portrait of a woman belonging to the Adelaide Tribe, illustrated by George French Angas
photo-icon Light Square, City of Adelaide Archives, HP0151:01, circa 1900s
photo-icon Original sandstone Memorial to Colonel William Light in Light Square, City of Adelaide Archives, HP1814, circa 1900s
photo-icon Unveiling of current Colonel Light Monument in Light Square, City of Adelaide Archives, HP0666, 21 June 1905
photo-icon George Strickland Kingston

The Kaurna people are the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the Adelaide Plains. The Kaurna name for this Square commemorates Kadlitpina’s wife, Wauwi. Kadlitpina, whom the colonists referred to as ‘Captain Jack’, was a well-known Kaurna Elder at the time when Adelaide was established. Along with several other Kaurna men, he was appointed as an ‘honorary constable’, issued with a baton and uniform, and attended official meetings with the Governor, ‘Protector’ of Aborigines and the Chief of Police. Unfortunately no historical information about Wauwi survives.

This Square was an important meeting place for Aboriginal people until the 1960s, when Aboriginal people from surrounding houses would get together at night to socialise.

The European name for this Square celebrates Colonel William Light (1786-1839), Surveyor-General of Adelaide, whose grave forms the centrepiece of this Square. The Gothic-style monument, designed by architect and politician, George Strickland Kingston, was erected in 1843 to recognise Light’s grave. After this monument deteriorated it was replaced with the existing memorial in 1905.

The design of the Square has not changed since it was established as part of the plan for Adelaide, except that Currie Street was extended through the Square in 1910 to accommodate trams. Until 1913, palisade fencing surrounded this Square (and all the others in the City) to protect lawns and flower beds from sheep and cows being driven through the City.

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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