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Published January 28th 2017
Witness Whitmore Square in all its glory
A wander around the City of Adelaide can reveal some interesting pieces of information about its development and culture, one such place being Whitmore Square, located in the south-west corner of the city.
Whitmore Square was originally known as Iparrityi, which was the Kaurna name meaning "gentle, misty rain", named after a Kaurna ancestor born in the 1840's, the last fluent Kaurna speaker of her era.
Once white settlement occurred in 1836, the following year all of the streets including the six squares of Adelaide were re-named, Whitmore being named after William Wolyrche Whitmore, a British Member of Parliament who introduced the South Australia Foundation Act to the British House of Commons.
There are only two squares which retain the original layout of Colonel William Light's plan, one being Wellington Square in North Adelaide and the other, Whitmore Square, which is distinctive in it not being bisected by a road.
The first thing you notice about Whitmore Square is the high sense of "community" stemming from Colonel William Light's vision of the city squares being regarded as "village commons".
A far cry from the days when it would not have been seen as being a very safe place for the public to wander around, due to the high level of alcohol intake by people in the square as well as a strip club which operated in the Whitmore Hotel for many years, right up to the early 2000's. Since 2001 the square has been made a dry zone, gradually transforming into much more of a community space these days.
Some of the interesting finds on my stroll around the square included:
1. Community Garden
Around the north-western section of Whitmore Square can be found a community garden which comprises raised garden beds for both individual and group use. This has been established primarily with the support of the Adelaide South West Community Centre, which also hosts a diverse range of activities and events for residents.
These gardens have helped people come together to learn how to grow fresh food, learn how to relax as well as make new friends in the community. This particular garden is one of 7 which operate in the city of Adelaide alone, let alone the number which operate in other suburban and country communities.
The imposing St Lukes Church has been serving the south-west of Adelaide's community since 1854 and specialise in embracing people from all walks of life and backgrounds, including those who have been homeless, addicted to drugs or down on their luck.
The church relies heavily on donations by the public of food, blankets, clothing, as well as other household items so that they can help the community wherever and whenever it can.
No matter what people's background, St Lukes offer some great counselling services and are there to "lend an ear" to those who need help.
St Luke's also run an op shop which is open on weekdays from 9 am - 4 pm. Sunday services are run at 10.30 am with a Sudanese community service at 1 pm. Then at 5.30 pm there is a praise and worship session accompanied with a $3 fellowship meal.
Sadly in 1992 the church was destroyed by fire, but with community support, it was fortunately re-built.
Housed on the ground floor of the City Council's Affordable Eco-Housing Development, Cafe Troppo is becoming a must go-to trendy cafe overlooking Whitmore Square. Their mantra is all about sustainability, the environment and the community and this is practiced by the produce they source, the cleaning products they use and the amount of waste they create.
Their food where possible is locally sourced and their coffee is organic, roasted up on Magill Road. Their milk comes from Paris Creek and even their teas are hand blended in the Barossa Valley.
Breakfasts start from $9.50 which you get you either some organic locally made muesli or a bap roll filled with scrambled eggs and bacon. The most expensive thing on the breakfast menu will set you back $17, which consists of soft poached eggs on sourdough with beetroot relish and dukkah, local goat's cheese as well as micro-greens.
For lunch, a simple side salad will cost you $5, home-made pot pies and pastries with sauce from $6, and a Roo Steak Sanga which is made up of spicy kangaroo fillet, with fresh greens, fried SA Haloumi and housemade zucchini pickle for around $16.
They are open from Tuesdays to Thursdays 7.30 am until 4 pm, Fridays 7.30 am until late, Saturdays 9 am until late, and Sundays 9 am until 4 pm.
The Salvation Army have played a major role in assisting the underprivileged people of Adelaide for many years, and still today they offer various programs to help people in need.
Some of these include a Sobering-Up Unit for both alcohol and drug addiction, supported accommodation and recovery services, which incorporates in-house counselling and rehabilitation, as well as IT training and computer based support to help homeless people connect with the outside world.
From Mondays to Fridays between 11 am and 1 pm, the Salvos invite people in need of assistance to attend an intake interview and information session. The great thing about this is that no bookings are required.
This centre is run by St Vincent de Paul Society and is a crisis accommodation, meals and support service for homeless and vulnerable men in Adelaide. The centre will cater for up to 47 men with their immediate needs and runs 365 days a year, 24/7.
Breakfast is available in the centre each morning and evening meals between the hours of 6.30 and 7.00 pm.
The centre can also be accessed by those who may have recently been released from hospital who need additional care, or in other times of crisis. The aim of this centre, like many others is to help people tackle daily living matters, build resilience and provide services which will hopefully lead to a better quality of life for all.
Today as you wander around Whitmore Square, you still get a sense of the past in the historic cottages and terrace houses still standing.
Whitmore Square, particularly on the western side was always a predominantly residential environment with one storey and two storey housing going up from the 1870's. The majority of the population were working class and from the second half of the nineteenth century gravitated to this part of Adelaide, proceeding to work locally.
People from the country who came to the city to find work were able to find temporary accommodation at nearby hotels and private facilities such as the former Bushman's Club, previously on part of the site where the Salvation Army is located today.
As the twentieth century dawned, an influx of migrants began to occur in the area, particularly from Southern Europe. Gardens flourished with herbs, fruit and vegetables which were sold to the local markets and corner shops.
Today Whitmore Square is attractive as being close to the Central Markets and ease to public transport and has become a centre for more sustainable housing projects, such as the Affordable Eco-Housing Project located on the south-east corner of the square.
This project includes 26 residential apartments and one commercial property, with key features including solar design, gas powered hot water, rainwater to toilets, as well as a Smart metering system.
The Whitmore Hotel was one of the very first public houses in Adelaide dating back to 1839, and was formerly known as the Queen's Arms Hotel. The very first publican was Thomas Maslin, the man behind the name of Australia's first legal unclad beach, Maslin Beach.
In 1904 the hotel was renamed the Bushman's Club Hotel and then over the years had several names including the Gothic Hotel, St Andrews Hotel, BT's Hotel and then finally the Whitmore Hotel in 2008.
The Whitmore has become the location for some great live music on a regular basis and offers a good range of meals and refreshments in a refurbished yet retained heritage environment.
One of their popular menu options is the grazing plate for 2, valued at $29, consisting of salt and pepper squid, prawns, prosciutto, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, Mersey Valley cheese, Aioli, and warm pitta bread. Mains range from $13 to $28.
The hotel is open generally from Tuesdays to Sundays 9 am until late.
Does anyone know where was the site in the square of Lady Buxton's club for young women? Although the Buxtons were in SA not for many years, they did an enormous amount of 'good works'. The club (hostel?) was set up in 1898. Where was it exactly (not please, where the electricity substation is now!)
I work in an office on Gilbert St, and I have breakfast in cafe troppo almost every day. I've been in Adelaide for three years, but I have to say I really do not have much knowledge about it. And this article is great for me to know the place I pass by everyday. Thank you!
BTW, I like the other one about Gilbert Street as well.