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8 Top Discoveries on Gilbert Street, 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 March 5th 2017
Take a gawk down Gilbert Street
Another one of the lesser known streets in the city of Adelaide is Gilbert Street, located in the south-west corner, running between West Terrace and King William Street.

The street itself was named after Thomas Gilbert, who had been appointed the first Colonial Storekeeper in South Australia, responsible for all government stores.

Gilbert arrived in the colony on "The Cygnet" in late 1836. In fact the storekeeper's house, the store and the first post office were the first recognisable buildings in the new settlement of Adelaide, located on the northern side of the River Torrens.

Like some of the other smaller streets in the city, Gilbert Street has an interesting mix of businesses, including pubs as well as row cottages, terrace houses and even a mosque on Little Gilbert Street.

Today the precinct is fairly quiet, although the Market Shed on Holland Street livens things up a bit on Sundays.

8 Top Discoveries on Gilbert Street Adelaide
Historic Cottages

Here are 8 places I discovered covering the span of the street, which are worthy of visiting.

1. Elephant & Castle Hotel

The original Elephant & Castle Hotel was built in a different location than today, down at the southern end of West Terrace as early as 1849. The current site on the corner of Gilbert Street and West Terrace dates from 1879.

Its location in early days marked a "watering hole", particularly for horses on the coaches heading down to Victor Harbor, as the adjacent stock yards contained a substantial well. At one time folding doors between the two front parlours could be opened to form one large room, which was even used as a coroner's court.

Sadly the original "Elephant and Castle" window was lost during some renovations.

Today the pub boasts its great steaks, sourced from South Australia's south-east. Wednesday is known as "rump"day with a special of rump steak and chips for only $13.50.

The steaks on the normal menu are not exactly cheap, with 500 grams of rib-eye costing you around $40.

However if a classic menu is more to your liking, you can pick up a schnitzel for around $19.

The iconic heritage pub is open for the restaurant 12 Noon to 9 pm, and the front bar from 10 am until late every day.

8 Top Discoveries on Gilbert Street Adelaide
Elephant & Castle Hotel

2. Adelaide Mosque

Just off Gilbert Street, in aptly named Little Gilbert Street lies the Adelaide Mosque, the oldest surviving mosque in Australia and the first to be built in an Australian city.

The mosque was erected in the 1880's, originally being designed to meet the spiritual needs of Muslim cameleers and traders coming down to Adelaide from the far north of the state. The four striking minarets were added in 1903, adding a distinctive edge to the imposing mosque.

The number of cameleers in the region gradually dwindled and the Muslim presence in South Australia less pronounced, which meant the mosque gradually fell into disrepair. It was only post war immigration of Indonesian and Europeans which led to the mosque being restored.

These days parishioners come from all over the world, those groups who have started a new life for themselves in Adelaide.

8 Top Discoveries on Gilbert Street Adelaide
Adelaide Mosque

3. Workers Cottages and Terrace Houses

The private dwellings around Gilbert Street are quite distinctive and show that there was a mixture of society living in the area, by the amount of workers cottages as well as terrace houses.

Some of the working class in this area would have grown their own produce to be sold at the nearby Central Market.

Some date back to the 1860's, whilst others, particularly the terrace houses from the 1880's.

Today residents quietly go about their business, close enough to the centre of the city but far enough away in streets less utilised by vehicular traffic.

8 Top Discoveries on Gilbert Street Adelaide
Worker's Cottage

4. Gilbert Street Hotel

Like quite a few pubs around Adelaide, the Gilbert Street Hotel has been badged with many different names over the years, including it originally being called the Shoemaker's Arms when it was established in 1849, then the Crown and Sceptre in 1850.

Subsequently it was named Bell's Inn in 1859 and finally the Gilbert in 1938.

Located at 88 Gilbert Street, the pub has undergone dramatic facelifts over the years, including renovation of their upstairs function rooms. At this time of the year in particular, the beer garden is the place to go, and boasts itself as one of the best beer gardens in the city, which can be enjoyed all year round with its retractable roof.

The two function rooms upstairs cater for a maximum of 40 guests in their Grande Room and up to 20 in their Picolo Room. However if the rooms are required for cocktail functions, they can hold a lot more.

As for dining, the Chef's Plates are varied as well as mouth-watering and include Kangaroo Sirloin, Lamb Rump as well as Pan Seared Duck Breast. These will set you back between $28 and $33.

The traditional "pub grub" as they call it, will normally cost you around $19 - $21.

If you like live music then a good range of genres of music are on offer on varying nights of the week, including Blues and Roots, Jazz as well as Guitar ensembles.

The Gilbert Street Hotel also offer an interesting range of cocktails, including a Dr Klugers, reputedly stolen from a London cocktail bar which comprises Gin, Aperol, Bitter Lemon, Mint and Cucumber. All cocktails are around $17.

The Gilbert is open for business everyday from 11 am, with lunch from 12 Noon and dinner from 6 pm.

8 Top Discoveries on Gilbert Street Adelaide
Gilbert Street Hotel

5. Adelaide Law Bistro

Adjacent to the convenience of an IGA store, Adelaide Law Bistro has become a popular venue for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the coffee is well worth a try.

Established in 2011, the bistro even has an extensive takeaway menu with a good range of pasta, risottos, pizzas with prices starting at around $8 up to $24.

For their big breakfast which will set you up well and truly for the day, the cost will be around $18.50 or for a vegetarian option, the cost is $15.50.

You'll find the bistro at number 31 Gilbert Street on the southern side. Hours of operation are Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays from 7 am until 2.30 pm and every other day from 7 am until 8.30 pm.

8 Top Discoveries on Gilbert Street Adelaide
Adelaide Law Bistro

6. Adelaide Woodwork School

A surprise discovery whilst walking along Gilbert Street was an old building with lettering indicating it was once the Adelaide Woodwork School. The school was established around the end of World War One and primarily served as a training facility for woodwork teachers.

In a 12 year period between 1923 and 1935, 800 teachers had been trained with the intent of upskilling them to be able to teach school students. Some of those teachers came from far and wide from all over South Australia.

Instruction at the site also involved the teaching of children in the craft. By 1935 approximately 300 state schools were equipped for the teaching of woodwork.

Back at its peak, the Woodwork School did not have the sole intention of creating skills for carpentry, but also to teach children in particular, skills of manual dexterity, perseverance, patience, training the eye, developing the touch, accuracy and concentration.

8 Top Discoveries on Gilbert Street Adelaide
Adelaide Woodwork School

7. The Duke of Brunswick Hotel

The Duke of Brunswick Hotel at 207 Gilbert Street has been touted as the "country pub in the heart of the city" and has that distinctive country feel about the place as you approach.

Controversy plagued the historic pub back in 2015, leading to a temporary closure, when a dispute arose between the owners of the pub and the publican regarding who was responsible for maintaining the heritage aspect of the building.

Fortunately the pub, which began trading back in 1858 has since re-opened and is affectionately known as "The Brunswick" or "The Duke". The hotel is believed be one of the oldest continuously trading hotels in South Australia.

Recent chef specials these days include Thai Beef and Mango Salad for $19 and Chargrilled Chicken Breast with Tomato, Field Mushrooms and Danish Feta Salad with Fat cut Chips for $22.

The pub is normally open for lunch and dinner, open every day from 11 am until midnight, with the added bonus of live music on certain days.

8 Top Discoveries on Gilbert Street Adelaide
Duke of Brunswick Hotel

8. The Brecknock Hotel

Perched on the corner of Gilbert Street and King William Street in the city of Adelaide lies the Brecknock Hotel, which dates back to the 1850's and was one time known as the Brecon Arms.

Up to 2007 the pub had only been ever run by 2 families since its inception.

The pub for many years boasted an Irish theme, with it's signature drink being Guinness, and the focal point for St Patrick's Day celebrations in Adelaide.

They still host "open mic" nights on Wednesdays and Thursdays with the flavours of Irish music, however the pub has these days been infiltrated with a Chinese restaurant known as Citi Zen.

Citi Zen specialises in authentic Cantonese cuisine, particularly known for their Peking Duck, fresh seafood dishes and traditional Yum Cha. Citi Zen can cater for up to 350 people with its two large dining areas as well as 3 private function rooms.

A range of banquet style meals are available stretching from $40 per person (min 4 people) up to their premium banquet at $98 per person (min 6 people) which offers 11 different options.

Yum Cha is available 7 days a week at lunchtime, with Sunday in particular being exclusively a Yum Cha menu only.

The hours of Citi Zen are 7 days a week, for lunch Monday to Friday open 11.30 am until 2.30 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays 11.00 am until 3 pm. For dinner, the restaurant is open 6 pm until late 7 days a week.

8 Top Discoveries on Gilbert Street Adelaide
Ornately carved Junk at Citi Zen

You never know what you might discover when you venture down some of Adelaide's streets - most of it I can guarantee will surprise you!

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Why? A chance to discover some of the lesser known streets of Adelaide - Gilbert Street
When: Any time of the year
Phone: 08 8203 7203
Where: Gilbert Street, Adelaide SA
Cost: Dependent upon your plans
Your Comment
A great article Graeme. It just goes to show what our cities have to offer if only we take the time to look.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|8059) 1461 days ago
The Brecknock is in fact open these days? Must check what I thought had become a building site.
by (score: 2|555) 1456 days ago
Great article. But don't stop there! Do all the streets in the CBD.
by pkevi (score: 0|8) 1450 days ago
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