Victoria Square, Adelaide
The Kaurna people know the area as Tarndanyangga, "The Dreaming Place of the Red Kangaroo". The area was named "Victoria Square" by the Street Naming Committee on 23 May 1837, after Princess Victoria, heir presumptive of the British throne. Less than a month later the King died and Victoria became Queen. In line with the Adelaide City Council's recognition of Kaurna country, the area is officially referred to as Victoria Square / Tarndanyangga.
A statue of Queen Victoria stands in the centre of the square. During the Christmas period, a 24.5m high Christmas tree is erected in the northern part of the square.
Victoria Square is bordered by numerous public institutions at its north and south ends, including the Supreme Court of South Australia, the Adelaide Magistrates' Court, the Federal Court of Australia, the Treasury and the Adelaide General Post Office. On the eastern side is the Roman Catholic Cathedral Church of St Francis Xavier, the SA Water Headquarters, State Government offices, including the office of the Premier, and the Torrens Building. Originally State Government offices, Torrens Building was restored and renovated, initially becoming home to a number of community organisations; it is now also used by the Heinz College Australia, an international campus of Carnegie Mellon University. The west side of the square contains more commercially oriented buildings, including the Adelaide Central Market, the Hilton hotel, and the offices of various consultants and insurance companies.
King William Street passes through the square making a diamond shape, with the southbound carriageway passing through the east side, and the northbound carriageway passing through the west side of the square. The square is bisected by the piece of road (technically part of the square) that connects Wakefield Street (entering from the east) with Grote Street (to the west). A tram stop (formerly the terminus) for the Glenelg Tramline is just south of the Queen Victoria statue; it was shifted from the centre to the western edge of the square on 6 August 2007, as part of the extension that was made to the tram line around that time.
The link between the Aboriginal people and the Square area stretches back many centuries, to a time when Tarndanya (Red Kangaroo Dreaming) people gathered there for special ceremonies and dances. Tarndanyangga was the “headquarters” or central camp of the “Dundagunya tribe”, a community numbering in the thousands.
In 1837, Surveyor General Colonel William Light mapped a plan for the City of Adelaide. The design incorporated a central square to function as Adelaide’s focal point and provide open space for recreational activities. On his first map, Light called the precinct 'The Great Square'. It was eventually named in honour of Princess Victoria, then heir to the throne of England.
The Square was a dusty, treeless paddock until 1854, when the Adelaide City Council embarked on a planting program, constructed four broad diagonal pedestrian paths and erected a wooden fence. Other work on the Square included construction of an east-west roadway that created two garden areas. A fountain was also considered, but it took a further 100 years for this idea to come to fruition.
By 1883, plans were under way to extend King William Street directly through Victoria Square, dividing it into four garden areas. The original wooden fence was replaced by ornate iron railings. A statue of Queen Victoria – who had ascended to the throne in June 1837 – was erected in the centre of the Square in 1894.
The layout remained unchanged until 1967 when the Square assumed its present diamond form. The Three Rivers Fountain by John Dowie was built to commemorate the visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in 1968. The three South Australian rivers, the Murray, Onkaparinga and Torrens, are represented by an Aboriginal male with an Ibis, a female with a heron, and a female with a black swan.
During the 1960s the Aboriginal community renewed its activities in Victoria Square, with the area in front of what was then the central Police Station, (and is now the Commonwealth Law Courts building), becoming a social and gathering point.
On 12 July 1971, the red, black and yellow Aboriginal flag designed by Harold Thomas was flown for the first time – in Victoria Square. It now flies permanently alongside the Australian flag on one of the two tall flagpoles in the centre of the Square. In 2002, the Adelaide City Council formally recognised this relationship by bestowing the dual name Victoria Square / Tarndanyangga.
In 2012 the Adelaide City Council endorsed $24 million in funding to begin rejuvenating Victoria Square. Construction commenced in March 2013 and is scheduled to finish by December 2013 for use by the Tour Down Under in January 2014. The development is to include:
- "History of Adelaide through street names - Land forms". www.historysouthaustralia.net. Retrieved 2008-04-09.
- The Ramindjeri Native Title Federal Court Callover 2010 has cast into question just what is Kaurna. This has caused a great concern amongst the living descendants of Kaurna.
- "Tramline Extension". www.infrastructure.sa.gov.au. Retrieved 2008-04-09.[dead link]
- "Indigenous Australian flags". NAIDOC. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 11 July 2011.