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8 Significant Plaques along North Terrace, Adelaide

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by Graeme Fanning (subscribe)
I'm a tour guide who is passionate about South Australia and love to showcase to locals and visitors. Visit my facebook page at
Published April 17th 2016
Peeking at Plaques on North Terrace
One of my favourite parts of the city of Adelaide is North Terrace, with its wide boulevard and striking architecture as well as cultural institutions all within close proximity of each other. If you have a keen eye, you can find some historic and significant plaques which tell us so much about South Australia's early beginnings and notable milestones.

1. Centenary of Responsible Government in South Australia

1857 was the year that South Australia was granted Responsible Government, meaning that we could govern ourselves without direct control from Great Britain. Consequently our first constitution was created and this paved the way for our bicameral system of government as well as a democratic political system.

This plaque can be found on the outside wall of Old Parliament House on North Terrace, which was laid in 1957 to mark the centenary of responsible government.

North Terrace Plaques
Centenary of Responsible Government

2. Women's Suffrage Centenary Plaque

Women's suffrage was gaining momentum throughout the late 1800's in South Australia and as a result of prominent lobbying by many citizens, including Mary Lee, Catherine Helen Spence and even the Premier, Charles Cameron Kingston, we were one of the first places in the world to grant women the vote - in 1894.

New Zealand beat us to claim first place, however South Australia was the first place in the world to allow women to represent the public in Parliament.

A plaque on the wall outside Parliament House signifies this ground-breaking legislation and a time capsule has been buried, which will be opened in 2094, at the time of the bicentenary of women's suffrage.

North Terrace Plaques
Women's Suffrage Centenary

3. First School Room and First Public Library

Opposite Holy Trinity Church, South Australia's first church in 1838, and almost under the Morphett Street bridge is a significant plaque imbedded in rock which denotes the first classroom erected in Adelaide in the same year (which was a wooden structure), which then became our first Public Library, long before the Institute Building was built on the corner of Kintore Avenue and North Terrace (1860).

North Terrace Plaques
First Public Library Plaque

4. Site of Colonial Infirmary

Pre- Royal Adelaide Hospital days, an infirmary was built to cater for newly arrived immigrants back in 1837 and it was sited on the northern side of North Terrace, near Holy Trinity Church.

Eventually the infirmary moved into Hindley Street and then it was located in Emigration Square, which was near the present day Adelaide High School on West Terrace.

The plaque was installed to commemorate the first site for the infirmary and also to acknowledge the sesquicentenary of the Royal Adelaide Hospital in 1990.

North Terrace Plaques
Site of Colonial Infirmary

5. The site of the first Government House

Outside the majestic Government House on North Terrace is a plaque acknowledging the original site of the first Government House, which was in fact a mud hut.

Our first Governor, Hindmarsh, moved in during 1837 with his family and would have endured pretty basic conditions including living with vermin and mosquitoes. By the time the second Governor arrived, Grey, he and his family needed more space and tents were erected on the side of the mud hut.

Certainly a far cry from the infrastructure there today and the plush comfortable accommodation on offer.

North Terrace Plaques
Site of first Government House

6. Sequicentenary (Jubilee 150) Plaques

When you take a stroll along North Terrace east from Government House if you happen to look down, you will notice a series of some 170 individual plaques in the pavement, which commemorate notable South Australians who have had significant input into the development of our state. These were laid in 1986 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of South Australia.

North Terrace Plaques
Jubilee 150 Plaques

7. Institute Building Plaque

Institutes played an important role in South Australia for education and literacy and were originally known as Mechanic's Institutes, with the intention of training skilled tradespeople to provide labour for development of our infrastructure.

The Institute building has long been recognised as the site for a permanent public library and still stands today as a grand and majestic building, being part of the State Library of South Australia.

North Terrace Plaques
Institute Building Plaque

8. Centenary of the Mitchell Building

The very first University of Adelaide building was erected in 1879 and was utilised initially for all lectures as well as administration. Named after William Mitchell, an early vice-chancellor and chancellor of Adelaide Uni, today it is primarily a building for admin staff and signifies the importance of education in South Australia.

Sir William Watson Hughes statue stands in front of the building who is penned as being the "father" of Adelaide University, being the first donor.

So much can be learned from a stroll down North Terrace.

North Terrace Plaques
Mitchell Building Centenary

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Why? A great way to learn about Adelaide's early history
When: Any time including weekends
Where: North Terrace, Adelaide SA 5000
Cost: Free
Your Comment
Very interesting to those who merely pass by and do not read. Would make a good brochure in the City Council walks series.
In fact, the centenary plaques would make a walk by themselves. The last one, down to east, was added recently for Sir Hubert Wilkins, another distinguished SA little known at home.
by (score: 2|555) 1498 days ago
Adelaides history is very important , our history should be taught in schools. It is so very interesting .
by Lmd48 (score: 1|13) 1498 days ago
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