Treasures of the Torrens Popeye Tour History Festival – 6 May 2014



Treasures of the Torrens Popeye Tour History Festival – 6 May 2014
Treasures of the Torrens
Popeye Tour
History Festival – 6 May 2014
North Terrace and River 1841. Coloured Lithograph by J Hitchin from an original painting
by E A Opie (B7070) State Library of South Australia
Welcome from the Adelaide City Council Park Lands Strategy team
1. Introduction
10.Angas Gardens
2. The Popeye
11.PAC Boatshed
3. Adelaide Festival Centre
12.Albert Bridge
4. Talking Our Way Home
5. Stockyards (formerly near
14.Grundy Gardens
the Newmarket Hotel)
15.University Footbridge
6. WYE Signal Station
16.Water Police Station
7. Torrens Weir
17.Adelaide Bridge
8. Pirltawardli Kaurna site
18.Elder Park Rotunda
9. Pinky Flat
Adelaide's Park Lands are the City's defining feature and greatest
asset. The encircling sea of Park Lands creates a sense of grace and
spaciousness sought by the City's 1800s architect Colonel William
Light. His plan for a series of parks to accommodate the "healthful
recreation" of the City's aspiring citizens is as relevant today as ever.
The 760ha of green open space provides a rich social, environmental
and recreational resource with opportunities for everyone - walking
trails, cycle tracks, picnic areas, bird watching or secluded spots to
watch the world go by.
One of the most important features of the Park Lands is the River
Torrens and it is here that we start our tour today.
The Aboriginal name for this river is Karrawirra Pari, meaning ‘red
gum forest river’. With European settlement it was renamed after
Robert Torrens, a member of British Parliament at the time of
settlement and the Chairman of the South Australian Colonisation
Sketch of the “Old ford through the River Torrens at Adelaide” (c. 1858) by Eugène von GUÉRARD. Viewed from the present
position of King William Road with the Adelaide Gaol in the background and depicting a landscape devoid of mature
vegetation, courtesy of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Felton Bequest, 1960
The Popeye
The pleasure-vessel business of Jolleys and its Popeye boats was
originally established by George Jolley and his family soon after the
opening of the lake. When George died in 1896, his wife Suzanne and
their sons, Ernest and Frank, continued the business. Suzanne passed
away in 1913, and the business was left to their sons.
In 1914, fire destroyed the boat premises within a half an hour. Four
months after the blaze the premises were rebuilt and by 1933 they
had 41 boats for hire on the lake.
In 1910 Ernest was awarded the Royal Humane Society certificate for
his rescue of five drowning people. He had rescued dozens of people
over the years. Apparently not all those saved were grateful. On one
occasion Ernest rescued a woman from drowning and looked after her
dog while she was rushed to hospital. Her husband came to pick up
the dog later that day and promised to send via post a reward of £2 for
his care of the dog. The reward never came and there was never any
mention of saving the life of his wife…
After Frank died in 1937 and Ernest in 1947, it was Ernest’s son who
kept the family business going until 1971 when it was sold to Keith
Altmann. The business again changed hands recently to Tony Shuman.
Despite the changes of ownership the Jolleys name has been retained
and also the name of the river cruisers – Popeye.
The Lounders boatshed where Popeye was based, is a simple
corrugated iron structure with its distinctive gable and finial.
Constructed in the 1910s, the building has social significance
associated with its use for the Popeye.
Adelaide Festival Centre
State Heritage Place
King William Road
Designed by John Morphett of
Hassell & Partners and opened in
1973, the Festival Centre was the
first multipurpose arts centre in
Australia and set the tone for
Adelaide as a dominant centre for
the arts in Australia. It was
opened 3 months before the
Sydney Opera House, but the
similarities are obvious. The Festival Centre comprises 3 white
geometric domes and a plaza, originally designed to conceal the air
conditioning vents. The main building, being the Festival Theatre, was
built within budget of $10M in contrast to the Sydney Opera House,
with a cost of $102M.
The Liberal Premier Steele Hall first recognised the need for improved
arts facilities in the State and identified the slopes of the Torrens as an
ideal position. The Lord Mayor of Adelaide, Robert Porter, supported
by the Labor Premier Don Dunstan, launched a public appeal to raise
funds for construction. The public must have also recognised the need
for an arts centre as the appeal met its target within a week.
The Adelaide Festival was first held in
1960 and it promoted Adelaide as a great
centre for the arts. The Festival Centre
was a key to the ongoing success of the
Festival which is centered around this site.
The Festival continues as a biennial event for which Adelaide is
renowned internationally. The Festival Theatre is renowned for its
high quality acoustics and the Centre continues to host many high
profile events which visit Adelaide.
Talking Our Way Home
Torrens River / Karrawirra Pari
The artwork is by one of Adelaide's most critically acclaimed artists
and Samstag Scholar, Shaun Kirby. Mr Kirby immigrated with his
family to Adelaide by ship from the UK in the mid-1960s and spent a
short time at the then Elder Park Migrant Hostel in the vicinity of
where the glass boats are placed.
The artworks quite literally 'float on the margin between the intimate
and secret dimension of private experience, and its expression in the
public realm'. The work engages with significant social and cultural
issues in a poetic and playful way, without being an overbearing or
pedantic presence in the landscape.
(formerly opposite the Newmarket Hotel)
From the 1880s, a sheep and cattle market grew on the site opposite
the Newmarket Hotel, in conjunction with a similar facility which
operated alongside the slaughterhouse in what is now Bonython Park.
The sheep and cattle were often driven along the western edge of the
western Park Lands into the yards. By 1912, with the opening of the
Gepps Cross Yards, the markets opposite the Newmarket Hotel were
closed and the land given over to rail yards.
WYE Signal Station
State Heritage Place
A wye or triangular junction, in rail terminology, is a triangular-shaped
arrangement of rail tracks with a switch or set of points at each
corner. In mainline railroads, this can be used at a rail junction, where
two rail lines join, in order to allow trains to pass from one line to the
other line.
At the time of opening in 1915, the signal box was the first and in its
time the largest power installation in South Australia, with previous
signal boxes being mechanically controlled.
The all-electric power frame was supplied by the General Railway
Signal Co. of Rochester, New York. This controlled the American-style
three position semaphore speed signaling levers.
Torrens Weir
State Heritage Place
War Memorial Drive
Damming the River Torrens to create a lake was an obvious solution to
ensure that it remained full of water for aquatic and recreational
purposes. The first attempt was in 1867 when the Sherriff of the
Adelaide Goal used prison labour to build a wooden damn. It was
destroyed by floods in 1872. Mayor Edwin Smith is credited with the
vision that eventually became reality. Construction of a simple
concrete weir began in 1880, and the Torrens Weir was officially
opened on 21 July 1881 – almost the entire population of the City was
This was one of the first uses of concrete in a civil engineering project
in Australia: the cement was imported from England and the aggregate
came from Aldgate.
In 1889, a serious flood
overwhelmed the new weir and
jammed its gates. In 1917, the
City Engineer, Joseph
Richardson, prepared plans to
replace the centre section of the
weir with two flood gates which
could regulate an overflow of
two metres and be fully raised to allow the river to run unimpeded.
The weir was reopened in 1929 and still operates today.
Pirltawardli Kaurna site
War Memorial Drive
Between 1838 and 1845, on what is now the Par-3 Golf Course
(opposite the restaurant adjacent the weir), there existed what was
referred to as the “Native Location” or “Aborigines Location”.
The location was called Pirltawardli in the Kaurna language, which
loosely translates as ‘possum place’. The ‘Native Location’ was
intended by the colonial government to concentrate local aborigines in
one place and provide them with an education. This location has
strong cultural values to today’s Kaurna community.
Over time, the location grew to include a school, stores and various
housing ‘sheds’. The first Colonial Store was erected on the upper
reaches of the present Golf Course where European food and
manufactured goods were sold and where Kaurna and European
offenders’ were executed by hanging in the 1840s.
Extract from the Kingston Map, 1842,
showing the “Aborigines Location” in
relation to the Iron Store and Gaol.
The Native Location was operated
by Lutheran Missionaries,
Teichelmann and Schurmann, who
did a commendable job of
recording the Kaurna language.
During the development of the
Par-3 Golf Course evidence of bones and building materials were
uncovered. Renovations to the ground surface of the golf course have
disguised the site of the Store.
As part of the Adelaide City Council’s commitment to reconciliation
with Aboriginal communities, places within the City have been given
Kaurna names. Park 1, The Golf Course, is known as “Pirltawardli”.
‘The school room of the Aborigines at the Native Location, 1843’.
Watercolour by W. A. Cawthorne (Mitchell Library).
Pinky Flat
War Memorial Drive
The area now known as Pinky Flat was an important camping site for
Kaurna people. You can see an image of an Aboriginal camp along the
river on one of the bronze plaques on the Adelaide Bridge.
Pinky Flat was also used as a camping place for homeless people
during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The name Pinky Flat is possibly derived from Pingko which means a
small animal which we know as a bilby.
This image from Alexander Scramm’s 1850 painting entitled “Adelaide, a tribe of natives
on the bank of the river Torrens”- courtesy National Gallery of Australia.
Pinky Flat was renovated in 1953 by Adelaide City Council to beautify
the area for picnics but also to enable it to be used for parking of up to
660 cars during sporting events. This practice has now been reduced.
Angas Gardens
War Memorial Drive
State Heritage Place
The centerpiece of Angas Gardens is the Angas Memorial, built in
memory of pioneers and pastoralists George Fife and John Harris
Angas. Overseen by George Soward, the sculptor William Robert
Colton designed the canopy and bronzes. Erected originally in 1915 on
North Terrace, it
was relocated to
Angas Gardens in
These Gardens are
now also
complemented by
the statue of
“Simpson and his
Donkey” which
commemorates John Simpson Kirkpatrick, an unlikely figure who
became a national hero. Having deserted from the merchant navy in
1910, he tramped around Australia and worked in a variety of jobs. He
enlisted in the AIF, expecting this would give him the chance to get
back to England; instead, Private Simpson found himself at ANZAC
Cove on 25 April 1915, and was killed less than four weeks later.
Famously, he used a small donkey to carry men down from the front
line, often exposing himself to fire. The bravery of this "man with the
donkey" soon became the most prominent symbol of Australian
courage and tenacity on Gallipoli.
Today his statue takes pride of place in Angas Gardens near the
popular intersection of King William Rd and Sir Edwin Smith Avenue.
PAC Boatshed
War Memorial Drive
Erected for the Prince Alfred College and the Old Collegians
Association of the University of Adelaide, the boatshed was erected
using funds donated by rower HWA Miller. It was opened by the
Headmaster W R Bayley in December 1930. Due to extensive white
ant damage, the building had to be substantially rebuilt a few years
ago and is now shared by Seymour College.
Albert Bridge
Frome Road
State Heritage Place
The original bridge on this site was destroyed by flood and in 1871 a
new crossing was planned upstream. The construction of this
substantial structure greatly improved communication and
transportation of goods between northern and southern Adelaide.
Before the opening of this bridge, most traffic used the City Bridge in
King William Road but this was identified as being inadequate by the
The Albert Bridge was designed by Henry Worsley together with John
Grainger who was the father of the great composer Percy Grainger.
Grainger was born in London but lived in Adelaide where he practised
as an architect and civil engineer. He later moved to Melbourne where
he designed the Princes Bridge as well as notable buildings in Western
Australia such as the Perth law Court, Houses of Parliament and the
Coolgardie Town Hall. He also designed the Ambassadors Hotel in
King William Street.
Opened in 1879, the bridge was constructed from iron brought over
from the UK but constructed here under supervision of the City
Surveyor J H Langdon.
The foundation stone was laid by Mayor Henry Scott. The bridge has a
span of 120 feet broken into two spans of 30 feet and a central span of
60 feet. In 1933 the timber decking was replaced with reinforced
concrete which was again replaced in the 1980s. In 2000 guard rails
and improved lighting were added to improve safety while retaining its
gracious features.
Adelaide Zoo
State Heritage Places within
A zoo was first
started in the
Botanic Gardens in
1858 by the
director G W
Francis. It was not
promoted at that
time and did not
open formally until
1883 at a time
when there was a great resurgence of interest in natural history. Zoos
at the time tended to be modelled on Regents Park Zoo in London.
The first zoo director R E Minchin and his son A C Minchin established
the first proper zoo and many of the important buildings date to its
early days. Run by the Royal Zoological Society of SA, the government
granted 16 acres of land to the Zoo on land obtained from the Botanic
The second oldest zoo in the country, Adelaide Zoo is unique in having
retained so much of its early history and many of its significant early
structures still survive.
While not visible from the River, the significant structures include:
the entrance gates and walling (now no longer the main
entrance), and head zookeepers residence, both erected in
the central rotunda on the main lawn constructed in 1884 as a
result of a donation from Sir Thomas Elder who was then the
president of the Zoological Society
the director’s residence dating from 1887
the monkey house erected in 1891 now used as the kiosk
and the Elephant House built in 1900 and now used as an
interpretative centre about the elephants formerly housed
here. Reflecting a Victorian approach to housing zoo animals,
that is in a building reflecting the animals; country of origin,
the Indian style temple is unique in South Australia.
The back of the Zoo visible here is the storage and feeding areas.
Grundy Gardens
War Memorial Drive
Grundy Gardens is the distinctively landscaped banks of the Torrens
between Albert Bridge and Adelaide Bridge. The Gardens’ main
feature is the dry stone walling which provides paths and takes
advantage of the topography of the site along the edge of the River
Torrens. Designed by Stanley Orchard, the Council’s Curator of Parks
and Gardens from 1933, the Gardens are based upon existing trees
and pathway systems already established by Pelzer, City Gardener.
The 1930s style garden took advantage of the construction of the
Adelaide Bridge and the University Footbridge at the same time.
Grundy Gardens was named after Councillor and Alderman Ton
Hadfield in recognition of 34 years of service to the Council. ??
Grundy Gardens c. 1930
Also part of Grundy Gardens was the McEwin Arboretum on the
northern banks near the University Footbridge. In 1921, Councillor
George McEwin submitted a proposal for the development of an
arboretum along the river, to be planted with trees of economic value
and the trees should be catalogued and labelled. Council adopted the
proposal but it wasn’t commenced until 1925.
University Footbridge
War Memorial Drive
State Heritage Place
Described as a 'brave' design this bridge is reputed to be the first
welded steel bridge in South Australia. A bridge east of the Adelaide
Bridge was built in 1842, close to the site of this footbridge called the
Frome Bridge. It was destroyed by flood in February 1855 and this
bridge was later replaced by a ford and then a footbridge.
The University footbridge was designed by the South Australian
railways department for the University of Adelaide. Designed in 1928,
construction of the bridge was delayed by the depression until 1937.
The Adelaide City Council expressed concerns about the need for a
bridge in this location because of the sensitive location.
The bridge was part-funded by the Misses Waite the prominent South
Australian family whose philanthropy led to the establishment of the
Waite Agricultural Research Institute. Adelaide City Council funded
the remainder of the
bridge as part of its
contribution to the
centenary of South
The bridge features
balanced cantilever
construction and
consists of two identical halves which pivot on two twin bearings with
concrete counterweights which meet at the centre.
Constructed by L
Grove & Sons of Highgate, the internal arch span is 152 feet. Its
design features delicate cast iron balustrading with integrated lamp
1971 Prosh Day Prank
Water Police Station
War Memorial Drive
State Heritage Place
Built in 1928, the Former Water Police Station is a prime example of
the Spanish Mission style which was popular between 1915 and 1940.
Other prominent buildings in the style include the Hartley Building on
Kintore Avenue.
Built by the South Australian Public Buildings Department, the former
water police station housed two water police officers who monitored
activities on the River and in the vicinity.
The building contains a small room used by officers, an exercise yard
and a single cell. Used until 1956 by the police, it now houses
Adelaide City Council horticultural staff.
Adelaide Bridge
King William Street, Adelaide
State Heritage Place
This bridge was opened on 5 March 1931.
It was the third bridge on this site and the fifth built to provide access
to and from the City and North Adelaide across the Torrens.
By 1920 the old City Bridge (erected in 1877) had become overloaded
causing congestion, particularly when trams were crossing the bridge.
The City Council decided to do away with the bottleneck by providing a
bridge 132 feet wide with footpaths and carriage way of the same
dimensions as King William Street. The design was by the city
Architectural drawing of the City Bridge, King William Street, Adelaide, circa 1930.
State Library of South Australia, B 62531.
City Bridge, King William Road, on the day of its official opening, 5th March 1931.
State Library of South Australia, B 6052.
Elder Park Rotunda
King William Road
State Heritage Place
Elder Park was originally part of the Governors garden; it was never
intended that King William Street extend through to North Adelaide.
In 1881 at a celebration of the damming of the Torrens River, wealthy
land owner and industrialist, Sir Thomas Elder offered to donate a
bandstand to the city. This site was selected and the Government
kindly handed over the land.
The bandstand, chosen from a Scottish catalogue, was shipped out
from McFarlane’s Saracen Foundry in Glasgow and erected in 1882.
Measuring more than 7 meters in diameter the octagonal bandstand
can be admired from King William Road due to the land being built up
some five and a half meters with tons and tons of soil.
The official opening, by Mayor Edwin Smith was attended by 2,000
people. A special Rotunda March was composed for the occasion and
played by the Military Band. For some years, the rotunda was the
venue for regular performances and open air concerts.
The rotunda c. 1882 – soon after construction, showing the large scale earthworks to
create Elder Park. Captain W Sweet photo, courtesy State Library of SA (ref B3124)
Adelaide Gaol
Gaol Road
State Heritage Place
In 1836, when Adelaide was first established as a free colony, it was
decided that a Gaol was unnecessary. However within a year if
settlement, it was apparent that there was some urgency to build a
secure place to hold prisoners of the Colony.
The first prisoners were held on the HMS Buffalo which was moored at
Glenelg. When the Buffalo was recalled to the eastern states in June
1837, prisoners were held in tents along the River Torrens and
chained to logs to prevent them from escaping.
Later, in 1838, a temporary Gaol, called the Stone Jug, was set up in a
wooden hut surrounded by a wooden fence. This enclosure was
overcrowded, filthy and escape was easy.
In 1840, Governor Gawler called for tenders to build a more
substantial Gaol. The successful design was by George Strickland
Kingston, Colonial Architect, with guard towers, hanging tower and
substantial surrounding walls. A
two storey administration building
was located at the entrance. It is
based on the English design pf
Pentonville Gaol in London.
By early 1841, construction costs had well exceeded the estimate and
the situation almost bankrupted the state. Governor Gawler was
recalled to England to explain.
Prisoners were moved into the new but incomplete gaol in 1841. To
this day, some of the original embellishments that were originally
planned were not constructed (e.g. one of the towers is still without
its castellations).
Over the course of its life, the
Adelaide Gaol housed more than
300,000 inmates including
Elizabeth Woolcott, the first
woman to be hanged in the
Adelaide Gaol for the murder of
her husband and Squizzy Taylor,
a Melbourne gangster killed in a
shoot-out in 1927 and the subject of a 1984 movie of the same name.
The Adelaide Gaol is the only radially designed gaol still remaining in
Australia today, one of the oldest remaining buildings in South
Australia and the longest continually operated prison in Australia.
Modelled on Pentonville Prison in London, this was one of many
prisons throughout the UK and the British Empire based on the 5
radiating wings.
Text by Meagan Cox, Katherine Russell, Martin Cook
References: Adelaide Park Lands & Squares Cultural Landscape
Assessment Study by Dr D Jones October 2007