Adelaide…Walking the Torrens River

Another walk around the city of Adelaide that we fitted in during our time there started off in a similar fashion to our exploration of North Terrace. This time we headed to North Terrace and walked down to the central railway station. Rather than going into the station, we walked around it, avoiding as we went the building site that was the area around the Adelaide Casino. This process led us to the view across the Torrens River to the Adelaide Cricket ground that can be seen above. We made our way along various terraces to the start of the Riverbank Bridge that connects the city with the north side of the river, finished in March 2014. The council’s plan was “to reinvigorate the area along the River Torrens – and bring football to the city!”


The Riverbank Bridge is a very impressive structure (as can be seen from the night photo above) for visitors to Adelaide looking for a different method for crossing the Torrens River. What is also impressive is getting halfway across the bridge and then looking back at the view of the foreshore where some of Adelaide’s major civic buildings are on full display; the Convention Centre, the Casino, the Festival Centre and the Biomedical Precinct. Many of these facilities have been built in the last 11 years since the release of the government’s Riverbank masterplan. “The plan placed emphasis on high-quality design of the public realm, and on creating north/south connections between the city, the river, and the park lands, with a focus on the oval.” (INDaily, S.Johnson) From an architectural point of view, I was very impressed by the vista that this central area of Adelaide city displays today

Recalling our torturous path past the Railway station and the casino, I could see the point being made by some critics of the masterplan for this area. “…the ultimate outcome for the entertainment precinct between King William and Morphett Streets has been the creation of an overwhelming physical barrier between city and river in the form of the convention centre, casino, hotel and Riverside Centre.” (S.Johnson)

Despite the criticisms of the masterplan, our walk over the River Torrens and along the shoreline towards the Adelaide Oval was a gorgeous way to spend the afternoon. Having listened to and watched cricket broadcast from the Adelaide oval for decades, it was a pleasure to visit the ‘outside’ of this famous Australian sports ground; I mused that it would have been great if our visit had coincided with a big event to watch from inside the grounds.

The stroll along the river past the oval was very pleasant with the bird life on the river and its banks being quite prolific.

North along King William Road further along from the Adelaide Oval is St Peter’s Cathedral. Its foundation stone was laid in 1869 from a design that originally started with an architect in England whose main influence was French Gothic architecture. This is why visitors can see a similarity with the Notre Dame in Paris in the western front of the building. It was originally meant to have been built on land within Victoria Square but the process of making such a land grant ran against local opposition who pointed out that Adelaide’s main square was a public reserve and so the Supreme Court directed the Anglican Church to look elsewhere for their cathedral site. It had been a long day already so on our arrival at Adelaide Bridge we decided we would head back to our hotel rather than make a visit to St Peter’s Cathedral.

Below left shows the view looking towards Adelaide Bridge from the bank of the River Torrens opposite the Adelaide oval. We decided to linger on this bridge to take in the views back along the river towards the Convention Centre

Our route back to our hotel was up King William Road but along the way we were distracted by the crowd that was gathering over the road in the Pioneer Women’s Garden. We decided to cross over and discovered at the gate that it was one of the events of Adelaide Writer’s week, part of the Adelaide Festival. It was free-entry so we decided to wander in and see what was happening. We discovered we had arrived in time to listen to an interview with Gideon Haigh, an English born writer who is well known for his books about sport, particularly cricket. On this occasion his new book was about Herbert Vere Evatt, the Australian lawyer and Federal labor Party leader of the 1930s; it was titled The Brilliant Boy Doc Evatt and the Great Australian Dissent. As a result of sins in the past, I was a history teacher who had to make sense to my students of why this brilliant man had never been able to defeat Bob Menzies for the Prime Ministership of Australia. It seemed that intelligence and common sense could not counter the “Reds under the beds” campaigns of Menzies.

It was a very interesting interview and when it was finished, we exited the Pioneer Women’s Gardens and headed back to our hotel after another enjoyable walk around the inner city of Adelaide.

APPENDIX 1: The Banks of the River Torrens…1850

Earlier in our stay in Adelaide we had visited Victoria Square and noted the sign there that explained the issues around its dual naming as ‘Tarntanyangga’. It reads in part…”Victoria Square/ Tarntanyangga is traditionally acknowledged as the central camp of the Kaurna people. The place has special associations with Tanda Kanya, another significant site on the south of the River Torrens”. In my background reading of Adelaide’s history I came across the amazingly detailed painting below, ‘A Tribe of Natives on the Banks of the River Torrens’ by German Artist, Alexander Schramm. The painting is dated 1850 and the details of the riverside life-style of the local indigenous people is amazing. It is a first rate primary source of information about the locals who were displaced by the development of the British colony of Adelaide.

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