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Olive Groves: the first agriculture in the colony

King Rodney Park / Ityamai-itpina (Park 15)

Did you know olives have been grown in the City of Adeladie Park Lands since 1837?

photo-icon George Francis
photo-icon Samuel Davenport
photo-icon The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park for Grand International Exhibition of 1851
photo-icon Queen Victoria opens The Great Exhibition in the Crystal Palace, in Hyde Park, London, in 1851

The olive tree (Olea europaea) was amongst the first exotic plants brought in to South Australia, with at least one arriving on the HMS Buffalo in 1836. In 1850, George Francis (1799-1865) (later Director of the Adelaide Botanic Garden) pressed the first batch of olive oil - sent to the Great Exhibition in London in 1851. It won an honourable mention for its purity and clarity.

In 1856, the Adelaide City Council commissioned nurseryman John Bailey to revegetate the Park Lands. The first olive trees were planted in the now State Heritage Listed olive groves on Mann Terrace in North Adelaide.

By 1875 there were reportedly 30,000 olive trees planted in the Park Lands, although their success in commercial production was mixed. Samuel Davenport, the "Father of the Olive Industry in South Australia", supported the farming of olives because of the Mediterranean climate. He planted large groves of olives around his property, Beaumont House, in the eastern suburbs of Adelaide. An olive press he imported from Chile in 1864 operated until 1962 - which children now play on in Wood Park in Beaumont.

The olive grove here was planted from 1872, completing an almost continuous belt of olive trees in the east Park Lands from the Adelaide Botanic Gardens to South Terrace. Olives are now a Declared Plant (weed) under the Natural Resources Management Act 2004, which limits the use of plants by landowners because they can damage the environment.

The Kaurna name for the Park, Ityamai-itpina, is named after a Kaurna elder whom the settlers called "King Rodney".

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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