Skip to main content

Victoria Park / Kaurna Culture

Victoria Park / Pakapakanthi (Park 16)

Victoria Park / Pakapakanthi has great importance to South Australian Aboriginal history.

photo-icon ‘Race Meeting at Adelaide’, 1845 by ST Gill. Source Lock-Weir 2004, pp.94.
photo-icon J.W. Giles, Britian, 1801-1870 after George French Angas, Australia, 1822-1886, Kaurna Paltu Dance; purchased with the South Australian Government Grant 1953, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide. Courtesy of the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Victoria Park / Pakapakanthi is part of the "Adelaide Park Lands and City Layout" - included on the National Heritage List for its planning excellence.

Pakapakanthi is a Kaurna (local Aboriginal) word meaning “to trot" (as applied to horses) and recognises the past use of this park for horse racing.

Horse racing began in this park at least as early as 1840 and continued until 2007. Today all that remains of the once extensive track facilities are the State Heritage Listed Grandstand, Racecourse Gardens, Main Gates, Entry Turnstiles and Bookmakers League Buildings. Remnants of the track itself are still discernible.

Today the park is still heavily used for Motor Sport Racing, which began here in 1985 when the Australian Grand Prix became a round of the FIA Formula One World Championship.

Located close to the footpath is one of a series of more than 30 benchmarks installed across Adelaide in 1872, with the purpose of ensuring that water and sewer pipes were installed at the correct depth to ensure adequate flow rates. The few surviving benchmarks represent an important part of our industrial heritage and Adelaide’s water supply history.

Verbal history held by surviving members of the Kaurna (local Aboriginal people) community indicates that during the early period of colonisation this area was used for camping and corroborees (paltu) and the north-west corner of the park was the site of a native police camp watching Aboriginal camps / meetings.

Kaurna, Ngarrindjeri and Narungga women would collect, cook and serve food and drinks to the Aboriginal people who came down to Kaurna country from central Australia and camped in this area. The visitors would then converge upon the banks of the River Torrens / Karrawirra Parri.

Victoria Park / Pakapakanthi has great importance to South Australian Aboriginal history. In February 1980, members of the Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara, and other Aboriginal Elders from the north-west of the State converged here to confront the State Government and protest for Aboriginal land rights.

This stand was crucial in the long battle for land rights, which led to the passage of the SA Pitjantjatjara Land Rights Act 1981 and the establishment of the freehold Aboriginal Lands in the north-west of the State.

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.

Disclaimer: The information, map and materials contained in this database are for general information purposes only, and should not be relied on. The City of Adelaide make no warranties, representations or undertakings about any of the content of in this database (including, without limitation, any as to the quality, accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose of such content), or any content of any other website referred to or accessed by hyperlinks through these web pages. The City of Adelaide expressly disclaims responsibility for any damages that may be caused by the contents of this database.