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Published September 8th 2019
Curiosities of Currie Street
Another of the streets within the CBD of Adelaide, which runs in an east-west direction from King William Street to West Terrace is Currie Street, named after Raikes Currie, an English banker who also entered politics in his late 20's/early '30s. Currie was a lover of literature and was a member of the South Australian Literary and Scientific Association in 1834, the body which established South Australia's very first library two years later, once we were established as a British colony.
Currie was also a founder of the South Australian Company, the organisation which established South Australia in the first place. As a banker, he was instrumental in procuring substantial monies as surety for the colonisation project, hence one of the reasons why he has been immortalised in one of our street names.
In and around Currie Street I found a really interesting mix of great sentinels to our past, as well as some quirky bars and eating places off some of its side lanes and roads.
Lady Burra Brewhouse has been described as a traditional brewhouse with a Portuguese twist, influenced by its authentic home-style Portuguese dishes. It is as their website claims, to be the only operational microbrewery within the CBD of Adelaide. The name of the brewhouse has been adopted from the story of a woman from the Burra area who learnt the craft of brewing during the 1860s and 1870s. The story includes "Lady Burra" writing and recording her infamous recipes for both illegal and legal distillery, which apparently were washed up on a beach in WA in 1991, contained within copper canisters, which had been stolen by her husband, an American brewer. He perished in a shipwreck off the WA coast.
These recipes, with some enhancements, are being used today for the current business here in Adelaide.
Craft beers range from Pilsner, Irish Red Ale, India Pale Ale as well as traditional Pale Ale. What Lady Burra describes as Beer Food is on offer to compliment the craft beers, including Portuguese Fried Chicken, Rosa's Succulent Ribs, Beef as well as Chicken or Veggie Burgers. Prices range from $19 up to $25.
There are also wood oven pizzas with 9" bases starting at $16. Salads go for $17 and there are also sharing platters such as Paella for $25.
Lady Burra is located at 4 Topham Mall in the city and is open Monday to Wednesday 11.30 am - 10.00 pm, Thursdays 11.30 am to 11.00 pm, Fridays 11.30 am to late, and Saturdays 12.00 pm until late. It is closed on Sundays.
Tucked away in Playhouse lane, off Currie Street lies the oldest surviving theatre building in mainland Australia, known as Queen's Theatre, built in 1840, with operations commencing the following year.
The theatre was originally started up by two brothers, Vaiben and Emmanuel Solomon. When first established, the theatre held 1,000 patrons and its first performance was "Othello". The theatre has had a chequered history, having been closed and re-opened many times, the first closure being 1843 when the Colonial Government at the time took over the building for the Resident Magistrates Court as well as for the Supreme Court.
In 1850 these courts moved to their current location in Victoria Square. The theatre was then re-opened in that same year and re-badged as the Royal Victoria Theatre. It was only short-lived however and closed a year later, due to the mass exodus to the Victorian gold-fields.
In the late 1850s through to the late 1860s the Queen's Theatre operated at the site, but due to heavy competition from the new Theatre Royal in Hindley Street led to its closing yet again.
For more than a hundred years from the 1860s the site was used for mainly non-theatrical purposes, including the City Mission, a Horse Bazaar, stores and warehouses, etc.
Archaeological excavation work took place during the 1980s which unearthed varying layers of history associated with the old theatres on the site, including the discovery of dressing rooms and an orchestra pit.
Since the 1990's the venue has again been revived for some theatrical use but also for markets, art exhibitions and corporate functions. The site is preserved, hopefully for all time to remind us all of the heyday of Adelaide's theatre.
Named for the man who both sited Adelaide as our city as well as its designer, Colonel William Light, Light Square (Kaurna name Wauwi, meaning female grey kangaroo) was part of the original plan which incorporated six city squares.
It was originally intended to be a recreational garden oasis, however soon developed itself with a reputation for prostitution, drinking and violence in its early years.
By 1880 Light Square was surrounded by an iron palisade fence with six gates, each gate opening to defined pathways lit at night by lamp posts. By the early 1900s tram tracks were laid through the square, and then in 1910 Currie Street was also extended through its heart.
The palisade fence was finally removed during the 1920s, however many of the beautiful trees we still see today, such as Pepper trees, Moreton Bay Fig trees as well as other species have been retained.
Within the square a monument still exists to Colonel William Light, marking the site of his burial place. In 1986, commemorating the 150th anniversary of South Australia, another memorial was added to the square, namely that of social reformer and politician, Catherine Helen Spence, who was first female politician in Australia, as well as Australia's first female Journalist and the first woman to write a book about Australia. Catherine was instrumental in South Australia becoming the second place in the world where women gained franchise.
During 2016, the City of Adelaide installed the Pride Walk, commemorating the city's diversity and inclusion of LGBTQI residents, which highlights the milestone dates during the journey of its community. The rainbow colours are eye-catching and can be found in the north-west corner of Light Square. Commencing with the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1975, the first state in Australia to do so, the path winds its way through milestone legislative changes as well as community achievements.
One of the more notable residences along Currie Street is Darnley House, constructed by a Scottish builder, James Anderson in 1874 and stands as an imposing two-storey house on a prominent corner site. At the rear of the property the historic stable buildings, dating from the 1890s still remain.
It remains one of the rare combinations of historic house and stables still existing for people to view today.
Ironically the area was noted for its working class, and as factories sprung up in the area, some of the poorer citizens populated this area, and during the 1930s surveys were conducted which showed many of the homes were almost uninhabitable (just under 50%). During a ten year period in the 1950s and 1960s, the residential use of the land in this area had dropped from 50% to 15%.
The Hains family go back 5 generations in South Australia, with one of the more notable members of the family being having partnered with a man called Hunkin, who both started up a furniture business in Hindley Street called Hains Hunkin, now the site of the Grand Chancellor Hotel. The business no longer operates, however, the family name continues with Hains & Co, located at 23 Gilbert Place, which specialises in rum, gin and whisky.
The rum of the month currently is a Mount Gay, Barbados Daiquiri for $19. If you prefer a South Australian gin, then one of the specials is Ounce Bold Fever Free Med Tonic with Thyme for $14. Whiskies range from $11 to $17. If you prefer wine, a good selection of red and white wines are also available.
If you are feeling a little peckish and fancy something to go with the liquid refreshments, then you can try, for example, Smoked Short Rib Nuggets for $14, Sticky Wings for $10 or perhaps something a little different, a "Sea Dog", consisting of Crab and Bonito Sausage on a mini brioche bun with Kewpie, Pickled Cucumber and Seaweed for $12.
Hains is open from 4 pm until 2 am every day of the week. It is one of a growing number of quirky laneway bars opening up in Adelaide.
Kaffana is also located in Gilbert Place, at number 27, celebrating Balkan food with the combination of Serbian history and culture as well as a modern dining experience.
Main courses vary between $27 and $40, although if you want to wrap yourself around an Aged Rump Steak, you could be looking at paying as much as $75 for a 1 Kg piece ($55 for 500g).
One of their Serbian specialities is Gurmanska Pljeskavica, which comprises char-grilled beef and pork patty, bacon, kajmak( a type of cheese), fire-roasted peppers with traditional spices served on a bed of diced onions, which will set you back $40.
If you feel like a feast (minimum of 2 people), they will cost you between $50 and $70 per person.
Kaffana is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays 6 pm until late, Thursdays and Fridays, 12 pm until 3 pm and then 6 pm until late, and Sundays 5.30 pm until late.
7. Colonial Building on corner of Currie Street and Leigh Street
This eye-catching building was once the home of A M Bickford and Sons, still today an iconic business which produces cordials, juices, waters and syrups. The building was constructed in 1879 with additions added at the rear in Leigh Street during 1894. The buildings were designed by one of Adelaide's leading architects at the time, Daniel Garlick.
The family originally migrated to South Australia in 1838 with William Bickford working as a Chemist both in North Terrace and in Hindley Street. After William died in 1850, his wife Anne continued to run his business, and with the help of other family members, it expanded, becoming A M Bickford & Sons.
Looking to diversify, the family built the South Australian cordial factory in 1872, beginning production two years later. One of the very first cordials was the now iconic Bickfords Lime Juice Cordial.
The Manufacturing and Laboratory were located for many years in Waymouth Street.
In 1920 Bickfords produced their first Coffee and Chicory Essence which today is known as Iced Coffee Syrup. In 2006 Bickfords Lime Juice Cordial was recognised by the National Trust of South Australia as a Heritage Icon.
The original Pancake Kitchen in Adelaide, located at 13 Gilbert Place in the city, has been around as an icon since 1965 and still serves up lashings of great pancakes whether it is during daylight hours or late night after exploring some nightlife.
Tuesdays are "All you can eat Pancakes" for $16.50. However not only pancakes are on the menu. They also have other daily specials including a tasting platter of Nachos on Mondays for $15, Steak, Chips and Gravy on Wednesdays for $15, Burger and Chips on Thursdays for $15 or 15 Wings on Fridays for also $15.
If you like crepes or waffles, they offer a great selection for between $14.90 and $16.90, including Banana Nutella Crepes.
Pancake Kitchen also do an all-day breakfast which will set you back between $17.25 and $19.25.
All-day dinners are also available, including Pulled Pork Crepe for $18.50. Vegan options are readily on tap and can be washed down with either non-alcoholic or alcoholic beverages.
Pancake Kitchen is open 7 days a week and offers six different dining areas.
The site on the corner of King William Street and Currie Street today has survived since the current building was built during the late 1870s, opening for the Bank of Adelaide in 1880.
During its heyday the building's internal design included in the basement accommodation for two strong rooms, a voucher room, a stationery room as well as a clerk's cloakroom.
The ground floor included a public office and clerk's room, a board room as well as a waiting room. The first floor was to be the Manager's residence, comprising a drawing room, dining room, morning room and library, together with 3 bedrooms, two servant rooms, a kitchen, scullery and larder. The Manager's residence was entered from Currie Street. Interestedly this residence was never used, as the manager preferred to live in his house up at Lower Mitcham.
In 1937 the bank acquired the adjacent building in Currie Street called Alfred Chambers, which when demolished and then rebuilt during the early 1940s, doubled the size of the head office.
To think, back in 1844 when Capt Charles Sturt left from the site on the corner of King William Street and Currie Street for Central Australia, the location was a weedy and rubbish littered vacant lot.
The site was later used by the ANZ bank. Today there is a 24-hour gym operating at the location.
Another imposing heritage building which happens to be on a prominent corner located within the city.