About the Square

About the Square

Victoria Square / Tarntanyangga is Adelaide’s geographic centre. Located at the crossroads of King William and Grote-Wakefield Streets, the Square is a main thoroughfare between the city’s north-south and east-west corridors. Thousands of South Australians use Victoria Square / Tarntanyangga, either as pedestrians or commuters, each day. The Square is surrounded by some of the state’s most significant historic and contemporary civic buildings, each occupied by legal and commercial professionals and government office workers. Students are attracted to the new international university precinct within the Square. Ground-level retail businesses are being established around the Square’s perimeter to support the growing worker and student populations.

Recent city development has brought significant commercial and retail growth along Grote Street to the west, King William Street to the south and Flinders Street to the east. Current and planned developments such as City Central will continue to increase the number of people and businesses in the immediate Square precinct.

Directly adjoining Victoria Square / Tarntanyangga is Adelaide’s most popular food and dining precinct. This includes restaurants on Gouger Street, in Chinatown and within the Central Market. The Central Market is Adelaide’s most popular tourist attraction, with seven million people visiting each year.

History

Victoria Square / Tarntanyangga was at the centre of Colonel William Light’s plan for the City of Adelaide, and today it continues to fulfil his vision as a vibrant public space.

In 1837, Surveyor General Colonel William Light mapped a plan for the City of Adelaide, incorporating 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.

Since it was established in 1854, Victoria Square / Tarntanyangga has played an important role in the civic and ceremonial history of South Australia. It has also been an important gathering place for Aboriginal people, stretching back many centuries to a time when Tarntanya (Red Kangaroo Dreaming) people gathered there for special ceremonies and dances.

The Square was a dusty, treeless paddock until 1854, when City of Adelaide embarked on a planting program, constructing four broad diagonal pedestrian paths. By 1883, plans were underway to extend King William Street directly through Victoria Square, dividing it into four garden areas. From here on the layout remained unchanged until 1967 when the Square assumed its present diamond form.

During the 1960s the Aboriginal community renewed its activities in the Square, with the area in front of what was then the central Police Station (now the Commonwealth Law Courts building) becoming a social and gathering point.

On July 12, 1971 the Aboriginal flag was flown for the very first time in the Square, and it now flies permanently and proudly alongside the Australian flag on one of the two tall flagpoles in the centre of the Square, now called Reconciliation Plaza in recognition of the Square’s Aboriginal heritage. The Council also acknowledges the traditional custodianship of the Adelaide Plains area by Kaurna people, and in 2002 it formally recognised this relationship by bestowing the dual name Victoria Square / Tarntanyangga.

In 2012 City of Adelaide endorsed a major redevelopment of Victoria Square / Tarntanyangga, and today we are now able to enjoy the fruits of Stage One. Keep browsing this site to discover what the works so far have meant for the Square.

Nature in the Square

With Stage One of Victoria Square / Tarntanyangga’s recent redevelopment, the Square has been gifted with generous shady areas and a bold planting design with landscaped garden beds, plus clearly defined event spaces and lawn areas that can be enjoyed throughout the seasons.

100 semi-mature Australian native trees, including Spotted Gums (Corymbia maculata) have been planted around the perimeter and central plaza, while the event lawn has London Plane trees (Platanus x hispanica) to provide additional shade for community activities and events.

Spotted Gums grow up to 45 metres high and have a smooth powdery bark that often has characteristic patches or ‘spots’, with small, white flowers appearing from winter to spring.

London Plane Trees require little maintenance and tolerate pollution, but in return provide plenty of summer shade and in winter a deciduous canopy that allows the sun through, complementing Adelaide’s seasonal changes.

The plants have been carefully selected to suit Adelaide’s dry environment and to follow principles of Water Sensitive Urban Design, Crime Prevention and Environmental Design.