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Site of Arbor Day

Victoria Park / Pakapakanthi (Park 16)

Did you know that the first Arbor Day in South Australia was held here?

photo-icon Tree Planting, State Library of South Australia, B 1699/A, circa 1889
photo-icon School children receiving instruction on Arbor Day, State Library of South Australia, B 73763/1, circa 1913
photo-icon John Ednie Brown
photo-icon Lord Kintore
photo-icon Queen Victoria, circa 1890

On 20 June 1889, Arbor Day was held in this park to celebrate a new-found recognition of the importance of trees. John Ednie Brown, the Park Lands ‘Conservator of Forests’ (1878-1890), promoted the Arbor Day concept which had developed in America. The annual event encouraged school children to plant and care for trees and the first planting took place here.

Thousands of school children marched from Victoria Square accompanied by the Police Band. The Governor of South Australia, Lord Kintore, planted the first tree, a Weeping Scotch Elm, and his wife planted a Bunya-Bunya tree. The school children planted 757 seedlings.

Similar events followed around the colony of South Australia and, together with Wattle Day, was linked with nationalistic feeling. Today the Sugar Gums and Aleppo Pines are evidence of this important event which led to many tree planting and revegetation initiatives which continue today. In 1989 a commemorative ceremony was held here involving the planting of 100 trees.

The park has two names, one English and one in the Kaurna language. The Kaurna people are the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the Adelaide Plains. Pakapakanthi is the Kaurna word for trotting and refers to the former use of the northern part of this park as a racecourse from 1846-2007.

Queen Victoria reigned from 1837 until her death in 1901.

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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