Before I came to Tasmania I lived in South Australia. My family arrived there in 1966 and I grew up living in the suburbs of Adelaide. I had come there from England and even at the age of eight I had a strong sense of place. I much preferred my new home in Elizabeth, north of Adelaide, to the grey, ugly place I had come from. I liked the feeling of open space, the wide streets and the flowering trees. When I was taken to visit Adelaide for the first time I liked the parks and gardens and the dignified old buildings I saw around the city.
As I grew up I loved the city even more and spent a lot of time in the city parks and on North Terrace, home to the museum, art gallery and the State Library. In the seventies the Festival Theatre was built and although I thought it was a little odd-looking and had weird art pieces dotted around it I was proud of it. It was finished three months before the Sydney Opera House. Over the years I lived there I attended many concerts and plays at the Festival Theatre both indoors and out.
I enjoyed browsing through the many department stores in Rundle Street, Harris Scarfe, Myers with its bargain basement, David Jones the posh store with marble tiles where a man played a grand piano near the entrance and the basement food hall smelled of baking, Cox Foys had its roof top fun fair and views of the city and suburbs and of course John Martins, the Pageant Store, which had the best toy department. As a teenager I was introduced to the eastern end of Rundle Street by my stepfather. There were European style cafes and interesting little shops selling imported goods. Central Market at the other end of King William Street was another fascinating place. Later when Rundle Street became a pedestrian mall it was fun to ride the glass elevator up to the top floor of Cox Foys and stroll in the mall enjoying the buskers performing there although you did have to dodge Hare Krishna disciples selling their books as well. At least they were easy to spot.
In 1985 Adelaide hosted its first Formula 1 Grand Prix. It was held in the parklands at the eastern end of the city and for the next twelve years we were regular attendees enjoying not only the racing but the associated events and the carnival atmosphere that the event brought to our city. I was working for the government operated transport system by then so I was in the city every day, sometimes working at the Adelaide Railway station. It was handy as I could spend an hour or so browsing in the stores after work or run up to Central Market for fresh fruit and veg before going home. On late shifts I’d only have to pop outside on to North Terrace to buy a coffee at the Pie Cart.
I can’t recall exactly when things started to change. I think it was when a lot of older buildings started to be demolished or to accidentally burn down while their future use was being disputed. I know I felt it was the beginning of the end of Adelaide and me when we lost the Grand Prix to Melbourne and when I heard that John Martins department store was to be closed.
Since then I have seen a lot more unwelcome changes to the city that I once loved. The beachfront suburbs are almost unrecognisable to me now as the old houses are replaced by large, square townhouses with tinted windows and no gardens. “Johnnies” is gone, Cox Foys is long gone, Harris Scarfe survives but their old building has been demolished and the new stores are tiny and seem to have little in them.
The Festival Theatre complex is getting a revamp which it probably needs but I feel a little sad that the weird sculptures will be gone and the amphitheatre where we sat on the hot pebbles and watched local bands play seems to have disappeared underneath the new walkway that goes over the river. I do quite like that though. I watched cricket at Adelaide Oval on television recently and it does look good. I think I’d enjoy seeing a match there but I liked the old grandstand with its red roof and the old gates at the front entrance as well. Luckily the old scoreboard is heritage listed so that can’t be touched nor the big old Moreton Bay Fig trees nearby.
Another thing that I do like is that the tram line which used to go to the seaside suburb of Glenelg has now been extended through the city and down to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre. Not only that but you can ride from there to the city for free.
The biggest shock I had on my recent visit to Adelaide was at the railway station. That has changed so much over the past fifty years and even the past twenty since I worked there. The Pie Cart is gone, not considered good enough for the patrons of the Casino or nearby hotels. The Casino has been inside the upper floors of the station for many years but since I was there last it has expanded into the foyer, Marble Hall, we called it where the ballroom scene from Gallipoli was filmed and where, some years before that David and I had our wedding photos taken. It was weird to sit at the bar with my sister-in-law Louise and remember that and to look around to the stairs that used to lead to the offices where David worked.
Down at Port Adelaide things have changed too, most of the industry has gone and so have most of the ships. Port Adelaide has become home to several excellent museums which is great but I was angry the other day to hear that the big shed where the market has been for so many years will be demolished. No doubt something ugly and expensive will be built to replace it.
I’ll never forget the happy times I had in Adelaide and I’ll always visit there, at least in the cooler months, because I have family and friends that I want to see but I don’t feel that it is the same place that it used to be. I suppose I have changed too but even if I had stayed there I know I would not like the changes that have happened so I’m glad I left.
I started to write this post intending it to be a rant. I had just heard about the demolition of the wharf shed and although I was half expecting it I was still very angry about it. As I wrote more I became more nostalgic for the city I knew. My last trip back reminded me of the things that I liked about Adelaide which is alway at its nicest in spring but I don’t feel the same way as I used to. I have never been divorced but perhaps this is what it feels like?
I believe that smaller cities like Adelaide and Hobart would do better to preserve the character they have rather than trying to become miniature versions of large cities like Sydney and Melbourne. I see scary signs of it happening in Hobart as well. Many people who read this may not agree with me, it’s progress, I know it is. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.
As I have often mentioned the built environment is a pet subject of mine. I am sure my family, friends and probably fellow bloggers get tired of my complaints about old, interesting buildings being replaced by ugly new ones, high-rise buildings being located in historic areas and new buildings that I consider just plain ugly. It’s true that I cringe when I hear the word “redevelopment” and that I would like to boil most developers and real estate agents in their own snake oil. Of course I don’t think all redevelopment or modern architecture is bad and I try to give credit when I see something good even though I think that parks and community spaces are usually a trade-off for more high-rise development.
I’ve posted a lot of photos of Port Adelaide on this blog in the past. David’s family has lived in or close to it for many years and David had a special fondness for it because of that. We often went there to look at the ships when it was a busy working port and later to visit the Sunday market in one of the old sheds. During that time the area became trendy and we were outraged to see apartments built right on the waterfront. On our last visit together we took a lot of photos of buildings we feared we would not see again.
Hart’s Mill was one of these places. It was up for redevelopment at that time and David and I were fearful that it would become more apartments for rich people. This is how it looked in 2012.
On my most recent visit my sisters-in-law, Libby and Louise, took me down to the Port for breakfast and we visited a new cafe near Hart’s Mill. I am happy to say that although apartments are still a creeping menace in the Port Adelaide area Hart’s Mill is looking pretty good. It has been developed as a community space and landscaped. Renew Port Adelaide is active in the area and the cafe we went to was one of these. It is over the water with a great view of the river.
Here is Hart’s Mill today.
I still think that Port Adelaide and indeed most of the older Adelaide suburbs are in danger of being turned into carbon copies of each other full of large, concrete, steel and glass buildings. I would far prefer to see old buildings repurposed than demolished as without them cities lose their character. One high-rise on the waterfront today can turn into a dozen in less time than you would believe possible. Smaller cities such as Adelaide and Hobart don’t need to try to copy larger ones. Part of their charm is that they are different. I hadn’t intended for this to be a ranting post though. It’s nice to see something that I can feel happy about once in a while.
I’ve taken a lot of photographs around “The Port” over the years. It’s an old area and gradually being redeveloped so I am constantly expecting the old buildings to be gone or changed beyond recognition every time I visit. Some of the changes I’ve seen are good, some make me both angry and sad. These photos were taken not only on my most recent trip but on two previous visits with David.
The building in the photo above was once a warehouse and when the waterfront was redeveloped as a shopping and leisure precinct back in the eighties or nineties it was converted to be used as a market shed. We had a lot of good times browsing in there. The market is still running but I’m told that it may be shifted to another site and the shed redeveloped as restaurants and bars. I took the picture for my “Before It’s Too Late” category as I may not see it in its present form again. The next few were taken on an earlier visit around five years ago when David and I were visiting family.
David and I both loved the old Wool Stores around Port Adelaide, as it was a busy working port there are lots of old warehouses and I thought that by now some would be gone or converted to apartments but so far it hasn’t happened. The main reason I can think of for that is that they are probably full of asbestos which is expensive to remove. Here is one I took in 2011.
This week Cee has asked us to show houses and / or barns. I am very interested in architecture and the built environment so I knew I would enjoy this challenge. Most of the photos are from my archives but I did have the opportunity to take a couple of new ones while I was away in Adelaide recently.
Here are some older style homes in the suburbs of Adelaide, South Australia.
In many cities former industrial sites and older homes like the ones above are being demolished to make way for apartment blocks like these. I do not approve.
The apartment in the next photo is well known to many older Australians who remember the TV series “Number 96”. This is the apartment block used for the exterior scenes in the show which was filmed in the Sydney suburb of Woolhara.
The next homes are convict era cottages in Tasmania built in the early to mid 1800s followed by a couple of grander homes from the same era.
Finally a couple of modern apartments in Hobart.
Last week was Architecture Week in Hobart and for the past couple of years an event called Open House Hobart has been held to enable members of the public to get a look at buildings they would not normally be able to visit. Over the weekend numerous places were open, some only had guided tours which had to be pre-booked and others were open access for a day or part of a day. I did not hear about it in time to book anything but decided to go to Hobart on Saturday and see if I could visit a few.
I am interested in history and I have very strong preferences about the type of architecture I like. I’m also a sticky beak and love to go to places that I would not normally see so this was perfect for me. I visited about four different places all located in the CBD.
First of all I went to the Colonial Mutual Life Building in Elizabeth Street. I have often admired this building which I pass often on my way to and from the bus stop but I’d never seen inside. Volunteers at the door directed me to the lift to go up to the roof. I was pleased because as Hobart does not have many tall buildings I don’t often get a chance to take pictures from high up.
Up on the roof I found that the parapets were decorated with gargoyles and that there are hand painted terracotta tiles up there. The building, which is offices with shops and cafes at street level, was built between 1934-36.
I also got some photos of the waterfront including one of Macquarie Wharf. There were a couple of open sites over there too but you had to book for those so I missed out. The construction site is a new hotel being built next to the cruise terminal.
My next stop was the Town Hall in nearby Macquarie St. Initially I went through the front entrance and decided that as long as I was there I should visit the flower show that was being held upstairs. I took some pictures of the flowers and the grand room where the exhibition was held. I’ll show you those another day. Realising my mistake I then left and went round the corner to the car park in Elizabeth Street where I was able to enter the basement which was what I had come to see. This part of the building was constructed in the 1860s and is four rooms which were the Constable’s and what look like they were once cells. It is dimly lit with just a few greenish lights and there was a rather creepy soundtrack playing softly in the background. I am sure it must be a mecca for ghost hunters. I don’t see very well in the dark but there were a few people who had brought torches wandering about so there was enough light so that I didn’t trip over anything. The walls of the rooms had marks and drawings on them which I don’t know the story of but I wonder if they were done by some of those long ago convicts who were confined there.
For my next stop I chose something totally different. Further down Macquarie St is an apartment which has been built as a modular unit and hoisted atop an office building. It is tourist accommodation and I was curious to see inside it and see the views from it. The apartment has two bedrooms with ensuites and an open plan kitchen/ living area, a BBQ area on the roof of the office building and a deck looking out over Davey Street. I heard the Manager telling some people that the rate was $500 a night or $600 for weekends which she described as “very affordable for two couples”. Certainly not in my budget! I would love to wake up to these views though.
After leaving the apartment I walked down to Davey Street to photograph the exterior of it and then went into St David’s Park to visit the Rotunda. As you know St David’s Park is a favourite spot of mine and I had often wished I could go up into the Rotunda. You get to it from a door in the bottom, climb a flight of stairs and come out via a large trapdoor. I think it is a great pity that they don’t hold concerts in the park any more except for the Christmas Carols concert.
I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse of a few different parts of Hobart as much as I did. I will certainly try to visit a few more properties next year.