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Rifles, Radishes & Revegetation

Veale Park / Walyu Yarta (Park 21)

Did you know that walyu is likely to have been a major food source for the Kaurna people on the Adelaide Plains?

photo-icon A crowd of people have gathered to watch a military shamfight, State Library of South Australia, B 3740, circa 1880
photo-icon Hockey Players, State Library of South Australia, B 8011, circa 1904
photo-icon William Charles Douglas Veale (known as W. C. D. Veale)
photo-icon Sir Lewis Cohen

The Kaurna people are the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the Adelaide Plains. This park is known as 'walyu yarta' in the Kaurna language, which means 'walyu root ground', referring to the root which was eaten by Kaurna people. It is probably the yam daisy and was described by German missionaries at the time of settlement as 'a white native root resembling a radish'. It is thought that the words ngampa, walyu and kantarilla all refer to the yam daisy (microseris scapigera) at different stages of maturity or to different parts of the plant.

From the 1850s until 1870s, this park was used for rifle practice. There has been a history of a military presence in the Park Lands since that time, when a rifle range was established for training of volunteers. The rifle butts were later transformed in landscape features, but not removed completely until 1903. The Adelaide Volunteers also held 'Shamfights' and were watched by thousands of people.

The park, together with Golden Wattle Park / Mirnu Wirra, 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.

As well as Walyu Yarta, today this park is also known as Veale Park and is the home of Veale Gardens in the north of the park. In 1957 Town Clerk (1947-1965) William Veale undertook a study tour of Europe and North America. His recommendations led to the development of several parks in the Park Lands, including Grundy Gardens, Rymill Park, Bonython Park and Veale Gardens. At the time of Veale's death, the Advertiser wrote that 'no man since colonel Light has left his imprint so ineffably on the City of Adelaide, or so transformed its character'.

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 native herbs and grasses (Austrostipa sp.), which are cared for by the City of Adelaide's biodiversity team.

The Walyu Yarta Community Garden near Veale Gardens is a completely different kind of landscape - a place created by the local community where people come together to grow fresh food, learn, relax and make friends. Thanks to the support of Council, the garden was launch on 27 March 2010. It continues as a great success story in the Park Lands.

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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