Subscribe      List an Event or Business      Invite a Writer      Write for WN      Writers      Other Locations
list an event      1 million Australian readers every month      facebook

A Saunter Down South Terrace, Adelaide

Home > Adelaide > Architecture | Free | Historic Houses | Parks | Walks | Lists
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 March 19th 2021
Soak in South Terrace Adelaide
After walking many kilometres through Adelaide CBD's streets, as well as losing a reasonable amount of shoe leather, I have come to the last article re exploration of the major streets of the city.

South Terrace in the CBD of Adelaide borders the southern edge of the city, running from East Terrace to West Terrace, and is bordered by some breathtaking gardens and parklands, as well as some admirable architecture and heritage.

Sculpture Veale Gardens
Sculpture Veale Gardens South Terrace Adelaide

Here are 9 interesting places I discovered whilst wandering from one end to the other:

1. Himeji Garden

If you like Japanese style gardens within a peaceful corner of the city, then Himeji Gardens is the place for you.

The gardens were originally a gift from one of Adelaide's sister cities, Himeji, in 1982. During the mid 1980s, a Japanese landscape designer by the name of Yoshitaka Kumada came in and re-designed the space with appropriate trees and stones, so as to transform the gardens into much more of an authentic Japanese experience.

The granite Okunoin lantern, which stands out amongst the lush green spaces, was a gift also from the City of Himeji back in 1985. Adelaide City Council gardeners have been trained by Kumada in how to keep the gardens looking Japanese centric.

One of Kumada's design features includes paving stones made to a size that ensures that the adult walker will slow down and be able to take in the atmosphere of the gardens in a more relaxing manner.

The garden is split into two main areas, the Sansui, a mountain and lake garden and a Kare-Sansui, a dry rock garden.

Whilst walking through the serenity of these gardens, you may hear a "clank" noise, which when investigated is a bamboo pipe filling with water. This pipe once horizontal then empties the water, causing one end of the pipe to strike a rock, hence making the sound. Traditionally this apparatus was used in Japan by farmers to scare deer away from their crops.

An oasis to be found between Pulteney Street and Hutt Street along South Terrace in the city.

Himeji Garden
Himeji Garden South Terrace Adelaide

2. Pulteney Grammar School

One of our earlier private schools in Adelaide, originally established as a Church of England school, dates back to 1848. In fact, Pulteney Grammar is the second oldest independent school in South Australia (St Peter's being the first).

However, the school, even back then, was open to children from all denominations and beliefs.

Today the school is co-ed, although prior to 1999, it was a boy's school only, from 1854. Its current location on South Terrace dates from 1919, being previously located on the corner of Pulteney Street and Flinders Street. (Formerly called Pulteney Street School, hence the retention of the name Pulteney today).

By 1953, the school was offering classes for boys from what is now called Reception, right through to Leaving Honours (now Year 12).

Many noted alumni have attended the school over the years, including Peter Dawson, the noted Bass-Baritone singer and songwriter, as well as Bruce Abernethy, former AFL player.

Harold Thomas was the first Aboriginal student of Pulteney and designer of the Aboriginal flag, which proudly flies in its main location in Victoria Square today, South Australia being the first place in Australia to recognise the stand alone Aboriginal flag, back in 1971.

Today there are approximately 1,000 students housed within a blend of heritage and modern architectural spaces. You can find Pulteney Grammar at 190 South Terrace in the city.

Pulteney Grammar School
Pulteney Grammar School South Terrace Adelaide

3. 1850's House

If you venture just off South Terrace into Symonds Place, you will come across an interesting residence, its earliest parts dating back to the 1850s, distinctive for its parapet and gothic arch front entrance.

The detailed elaborate work on the house can be attributed to one-time owner and plasterer, Charles Vernon who apparently occupied the house from the 1860's right through to 1908.

Another elaborate example of Vernon's work can be seen at 150 - 154 Rundle Mall, an unusual and detailed decorative facade resembling a Baroque period piece of architecture, which dates from the 1880s.

The Rundle Mall building, originally designed as shops, was so distinct in style and detailing that a description of them appeared in an eastern colony journal.

You will find Vernon's house at 53 - 55 Symonds Place in the city.

1850's residence Symonds Place Adelaide
1850's residence Symonds Place, Adelaide

4. Former Tolley Family Home

Another distinctive piece of history can be viewed along South Terrace at number 143-144, a former house, now occupied by offices.

The original section of this building was erected in 1860/61 for a chap called Thomas Sparnon, who leased the property to Albion James Tolley in 1863.

Yes, you are correct in thinking "Is that the same family who produced award-winning wines and brandys"?

A J Tolley first migrated to South Australia in 1853 together with his wife and then 3 children, and several years later established a business as a wine merchant Tolley & Co, on Currie Street in the city. Two of his sons, Albion and Frederick went on to form A E & F Tolley, wine merchants. Another relative, Douglas went on to start up a winery at Hope Valley.

Two of his other sons went on to form the brandy distilling firm of Tolley, Scott and Tolley (TST), whilst two more sons set up in partnership as solicitors.

A J Tolley lived in several locations around Adelaide including residences at Brougham Place, North Adelaide, "Shirley Lodge" on Beulah Road at Norwood and at Sunbury House on South Terrace, named after Tolley's home town in England (Sunbury-on-Thames).

Tolley senior lived in his South Terrace residence until 1866 when he and his family returned to England for 6 years, returning to Adelaide in early 1873. By 1881 Tolley had retired, finally returning to England permanently in 1885.

Following Tolley's time in the house, J P Stow, son of Reverend T Q Stow (who established what is now Pilgrim Church in Flinders Street) lived there for a short time during the late 1870s, which was then followed with purchase by E H Bayer and A S Clark, who leased the residence to Dr John Joyce, a noted GP. Joyce remained in the house until the early 1880s, when he purchased land on Greenhill Road where he constructed a building to contain the Adelaide Eye Infirmary, Queens Hospital for General Diseases and Private Residence for Married Ladies, eventually becoming Annesley College.

Bayer was also related to the Tolley's, being A J Tolley's son in law.

Today the building is occupied by offices, but the ornate architecture is still on view for all to marvel at.

Former home of A J Tolley
Former Home of A J Tolley, South Terrace Adelaide

5. Davaar House

Many of you may have been past this house on the corner of Hutt Street and South Terrace, and have been at least a little curious of what future it has, considering it is part of a major redevelopment on the site.

Davaar House was built for Scottish wine and spirit merchant, William Johnson in 1876 and boasted 14 rooms, pantries, cellars, larder as well as bathrooms. It is proposed to be restored as part of the $35 million apartment project known as August Towers.

Its most recent occupancy was the home of TPI (Totally and Permanently Incapacitated ex-Service Men and Women's Association) from the 1940s right up until 2007 when they moved to new premises on Richmond Road at Richmond, where they are still located today.

There has been much controversy over the renovation work being taken at the site, particularly with the treatment of Davaar House. We can all hope that the final finished re-development will bring the house back to its former glory.

Davaar House
Davaar House South Terrace Adelaide

6. The former Royal South Australian Deaf Society

This imposing facade, which can be viewed at 262-268 South Terrace in the city, was at one time the home of the Royal South Australian Deaf Society, following the need for an institution for deaf and dumb teenagers who were forced to leave the SA Institute for the Blind and Deaf at Brighton once they turned 16 years of age.

The new mission also catered for adults, founded in 1890. The aim of the mission was to promote the interests of the adult deaf by teaching them to help themselves and to make arrangements to apprentice them to suitable trades and other occupations.

Originally the society was established in Wright Street in the city, however, when the overall number of inmates roses from about 20 in 1901 to well over 100 in the 1920s, these premises became too small. The building in South Terrace was opened in 1928 and featured an assembly hall, gymnasium with a stage and dressing room, a large entrance and stair hall, board room, billiard room, as well as a kitchen for entertaining. Upstairs were the memorial chapel, a classroom and vestry.

The building style was built as Georgian Revival.

Today the society, which still operates elsewhere, is classified as one of South Australia's oldest charities.

Former Royal South Australian Deaf Society
Former Royal South Australian Deaf Society South Terrace Adelaide

7. Cranford House

If you have ever visited any medical specialists along South Terrace, chances are that you may have been into Cranford House.

Relatively recently lovingly restored to its former glory, Cranford House was originally built in 1878, initially occupied by a guy named William Watts, who had pastoral interests in the colony. Another tenant at one time was the Reverend George Davidson, who had arrived in South Australia in 1898 to be the minister at the Flinders Street Presbyterian Church.

Many of these imposing mansions facing the parklands on the fringe of the city, were financed by wealthy merchants, doctors and retiring pastoralists.

Today the location specialises in plastic surgery. You will find this fine-looking building at 339 South Terrace.

Cranford House
Cranford House, South Terrace, Adelaide

8. Waverly

Waverly, at one time an imposing residential mansion is now part of the St Andrews Hospital complex on South Terrace, found at number 360.

Up and coming businessman, William Sanders was the original owner of Waverly, moving into the newly built home in 1865. Waverly is believed to be one of the very first mansions built in the south-east corner of the city.

Talk about a rag to riches story - Sanders first arrived in South Australia in 1838, his first home being a tent on the beach at Glenelg! William entered into a partnership as a Linen Merchant with John Whyte trading in Hindley Street in the city.

When John Whyte retired, Sanders then formed a partnership with Robert Miller and their business became known as Miller Anderson, a department store that traded right up until 1988.

Sanders also bought many hectares of land, venturing into pastoral pursuits taking up leases east of the River Murray.

Sanders finally moved away from Waverly in 1873, retiring down at Glenelg until his death in 1880.

The second owner of Waverly was one of the Bowman family, Thomas Richard who bought the property in 1873. Thomas was one of 10 children who came to SA during the 1840s. Thomas and two of his brothers purchased a 560 square mile property at Crystal Brook and then purchased Lake Alexandrina Estates, Campbell House and Poltalloch.

Thomas Bowman lived in Waverly until 1910 and one of his brothers, Edmund Bowman had built Martindale Hall at Mintaro, near Clare.

The designer of the house at Waverly was James MacGeorge who had designed such buildings as the original Savings Bank of South Australia in King William Street in the city as well as a Congregational Church in Port Adelaide. MacGeorge's own house was a Baroque mansion at North Adelaide called St Andrews, which has been painstakingly restored and is still standing today.

During 1890, a ballroom was added to the eastern end of Waverly with the property being one of the original 1-acre blocks laid out by Colonel William Light back in the 1830s.

Part of the large acreage is used today by Secateurs Community Garden, where fresh produce - vegetables and herbs are grown for both community use and for the nearby hospital.

Waverly South Terrace Adelaide

9. Ochiltree House

Perhaps one of the more eye-catching mansions in Adelaide is located on the corner of South Terrace and East Terrace, known as Ochiltree House.

The building of this wonderful mansion can be attributed to a retired pastoralist who had made all of his wealth from wool clip, who was looking to maintain a gentleman's lifestyle down in the city.

John Rounsevell was not only a pastoralist but also at one time ran the most successful and principal coaching operation in South Australia, securing contracts for nearly all of the mail through the province, with about 1,000 horses in harness.

Rounsevell had also bought several stations near Blinman, Coorong as well as north-east of Lake Eyre.

The house was built in 1882 and 10 years previously Rounsevell had built himself a 20 roomed mansion on Hutt Street called "Landunna" (now the home of the Naval, Airforce and Military Club).

In 1920, Ochiltree passed to a lady by the name of Violet Bessie Ritchie, and she had married into a family of Murray River Steamboat owners.

Like many of the larger mansions within the city, over the passage of time, many were very expensive to maintain, so some, including Ochiltree, were sub-divided into flats. Fortunately, the home has now reverted to its original layout.

The mansion was at one time described as one of the most flamboyant mansions built in the south-east corner of Adelaide.

Ochiltree House
Ochiltree House, South and East Terraces Adelaide

These and many other jewels can be viewed and explored as you saunter along South Terrace in the city.
Help us improve  Click here if you liked this article  145
Share: email  facebook  twitter
Why? A chance to admire and enjoy both the South Parklands as well as some striking built heritage.
When: Any time of the year
Phone: 08 8203 7203
Where: South Terrace, Adelaide SA
Cost: Free
Your Comment
Very interesting and informative article Graeme. All capital cities have interesting historic sites to see that can only be appreciated by walking. Let's hope the buildings are for ever preserved.
by Neil Follett (score: 3|3318) 261 days ago
Top Events
Popular Articles