The main attraction, and namesake, of the Old Gum Tree Reserve is the famed Old Gum Tree. It is generally considered to be the birthplace of South Australia as the uniquely shaped tree provided the setting and shade for the proclamation reading on December 28, 1836.
Legend has it that the tree, which is thought to be a red gum, was blown over in a storm and continued to grow with a curvature. Now, the remnant of the Old Gum Tree is a valued monument that serves as a reminder of the past.
The tree has long since passed but it is preserved by a concrete casing that was constructed in 1963. A protective canopy was created in 1988 to shelter the relic from the weather so that future generations can visit and view the historic site.
Two small disused cannons stand sentry by the Old Gum Tree and create a sense of significance. There are seats in front of the tree that provide a place to relax and reflect on times gone by.
The Old Gum Tree Reserve is a popular tourist attraction and school excursion. Proclamation Day is celebrated and recreated at the site each year with the current governor delivering the same speech that established South Australia as a colony all those years ago.
Dappled sunlight filters through a canopy formed by many well-developed eucalyptus and other trees in the reserve and makes it a nice, shady place to picnic, read a book, or just enjoy some peace and quiet.
It is ideal for a family outing as it is fully enclosed with fences and has park benches, rubbish bins, public toilets, and a playground with swings and slides.
The reserve is hedged with perfectly pruned rose bushes and a commemorative mulberry tree has a plaque that explains it to be a symbol of tourism that connects the state's two most historic settlements, Kingscote and Glenelg.
There are several tablets and plaques scattered around the park that honour significant people and pieces of history. Informative signs describe the importance of the site in relation to the settlement of South Australia. The Bay Discovery Centre, which is situated in Glenelg Town Hall at the end of Jetty Road, is a great place to go for interactive and interesting information about the early days of life by the sea.
A mulberry tree signifies the link between Glenelg and Kingscote
Located on Macfarlane Street, off Tapleys Hill Road at Glenelg North, the Old Gum Tree Reserve is well-kept and clean with grass that is lush and green. It isn't the largest park around but, before entering, a sign on the fence entitled "Changes to the Old Gum Tree Reserve" announces plans for expansion.
The Holdfast Bay Council purchased the adjoining land in October 2011 and plans to start development mid-2013. The Draft Concept Plan outlines strategies to improve the appearance, advance the amenities, and increase the size of the park, while respecting and retaining the fundamentals of the historic site. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for the Old Gum Tree.
Plans have been made to develop the Old Gum Tree Reserve