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Elder Park: Adelaide's first 'pleasure gardens'

Elder Park (Park 26)

photo-icon State Library of South Australia, B 55421, circa 1900
photo-icon City of Adelaide Archives
photo-icon State Library of South Australia, B 9274, circa 1882
photo-icon SA Government Photographic Collection, GN14940
photo-icon City of Adelaide Archives

The Elder Park Rotunda was erected in 1882, as part of the 'beautification' works along the River Torrens / Karrawirra Pari.

Originally known as 'Rotunda Park', Elder Park became the city's first 'pleasure gardens', with the focus being the rotunda established in 1882, a year after the Torrens Weir was built. It was offically named Elder Park in 1907, in recognition of Sir Thomas Elder, who had donated the rotunda.

The octagonal rotunda was manufactured at Macfarlane's Saracen Foundry in Glasgow and shipped from London in February 1882. It was constructed of decorative wrought iron with a zinc roof. On arrival, the rotunda was painted bronze, grey and blue.

The rotunda was constructed above a six metre deep cavern. This cavern was used to store musical equipment for band practices, and is held up by stone walls with arches. The ground around the base of the rotunda was infilled to hide the cavern. It is currently not accessible or utilised.

The artwork on the river behind this sign, 'Talking Our Way Home' by Shaun Kirby, draws on the artist's own migrant experience. He came with his family to South Australia from Britain in the mid-1960s and first stayed at a nearby migrant hostel. This hostel, called the Elder Park Migrant Hostel, was sited on the present day Adelaide Festival Centre. It accommodated large numbers of migrants in the decades following the Second World War. It officially closed in 1969, and was demolished shortly after.

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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