Adelaide - Opinions of Adelaide
For an account of a trip from Port Adelaide to Adelaide in 1838 see Port Adelaide - The Port
The South Australian Record, published in London over the period 1837-1841, contains letters from colonists in almost every edition.
"Talk With a Pioneer - First White Woman in Adelaide" is in the Observer,
5 January 1907, page 41d.
"Colonial Life and Scenery in 1837" is in the Register,
27 December 1886, page 1d (supp.).
"Adelaide as it Was" in 1838 is in the Advertiser,
13 October 1881, page 6f,
"Adelaide in 1839 - Gum Trees and Narrow Tracks" on
1 January 1932, page 6g.
"Primitive Adelaide", the reminiscences of James Chittleborough, is in the Observer,
29 December 1906, page 37a,
5 January 1907, page 43c.
An obituary of Joseph Bell, which includes comments on early Adelaide, is
in the Observer,
30 August 1879, page 10g.
"Ancient Adelaide" (1846) is described in the Register,
25 June 1904, page 6e:
[It] lay panting and sweating..., hot as Hades and as wicked. Stifling smoke
from bush fires on the hills, plenty of dust, sand flies, cockroaches, flat
insects and fleas numerous and big enough to lift one off the ground.
"Eliza Davies and Infant Adelaide" is in the Observer,
7 February 1925, page 49b.
The reminiscences of George Smith of Adelaide in the 1840s are in the Observer,
9 August 1924, page 47a.
The town is described in the Southern Australian,
26 March 1840, page 3d,
2, 16 and 23 April 1840, pages 4d, 5a and 4a,
26 April 1844, page 2b and
22 January 1847, page 6c:
Heat seemed the order of the day. The wild looking figures, bearded and belted,
booted and spurred, sometimes with long leather leggins [sic] and broad-rimmed
straw hats... some on horseback and some on foot reminded you of pictures
of Spanish bull fighters... Vagrant dogs, ad infinitum, swarm the streets...
Adelaide is a miserable hole to live in. It is built upon a plateau of
red loam, which the summer heat converts into dust, so fine and impalpable
that it rises in clouds with every breath of wind and penetrates into the
corner of every house; whilst in the wet season it becomes a mass of mud...
and it is nothing to see a bullock dray stuck fast until it is dug out
(South Australian, 31 August 1847, page 3c.)
A filthier place I have never entered... nor one in which less regard
is paid to the comfort and cleanliness of its inhabitants. I allude more
especially to the butchering establishments... Sheep are killed at all
hours and the blood and offal is left exposed to the boiling sun.
(South Australian, 15 February 1848, page 2d.)
"Adelaide Seventy Years Ago" is in the Register,
20 January 1912, page 15g.
"Is Adelaide to Be, or Not to Be, a Great City" is in the Observer,
21 August 1847, page 4b.
An interstate visitor proffered the following opinion in the Register,
26 April 1848, page 3b:
There is not a public building in Adelaide of anything but the meanest description;
both in design and execution. They can't even build a bridge over their insignificant
Torrens - their river, as they call a shallow, ditchy looking creek with
a few odd pints of water in it in the summer...
(Also see Observer, 29 April 1848, page 1e and Buildings and Bridges..)
"Adelaide 62 Years Ago" is in the Advertiser,
28 December 1910, page 9a.
"Early Adelaide - How a Woman Saw It", the reminiscences of Mrs Richard Verco,
is in the Advertiser,
21 March 1914, page 6f.
Reminiscences of early Adelaide by Mr C.B. Stevens appear on
25 August 1928, page 14a.
"Adelaide in 1848 - An Old Letter" is in the Register,
5 January 1926, page 5i,
"Adelaide in 1850", by E.T. Saunders, on
23 July 1926, page 11h.
"Filthy Adelaide" is in the Observer,
26 February 1848, page 2b:
Adelaide is a disgrace... Sickness, in one form or another, is in almost every
house, and the Angel of Death has visited many.
(Also see Observer, 15 April 1848, page 2d.)
"When Adelaide Was Young", an 1850 letter written by Mr E.G. Day, is in the Register,
9 August 1926, page 13f,
"Adelaide in the 'Fifties - An Interesting Letter" appears on
10 January 1928, page 6f.
"First Impressions of Adelaide and Vicinity" is in the Register,
25 January 1850, page 4a,
5 February 1850, page 3c; also see
27 July 1852, page 3a and
7 June 1851, page 6a.
"Adelaide in 1850" is in the Observer,
31 July 1926, page 47c,
"Adelaide in 1851" in the Advertiser,
8 August 1908, page 10d.
"Six Months Sojourn in Australia" is in the Observer,
31 July 1852, page 6a.
The lack of "City Improvements" is the subject of editorial censure in the Register, 17 October 1854, page 2d:
Where is the jaded citizen of Adelaide to betake himself for a little refreshing
enjoyment at the close of his labours on a summer's day? Where is the public
bath in which he may enjoy the luxury of a swim and a thorough cleansing
from the dust? Where are the pleasant lounges, the embowered walks and shady
groves "for talking age and whispering lovers made?"
The city is described in the Register,
12 December 1860, page 3a.
"Adelaide and the New Comer" is in the Chronicle,
30 January 1864, page 4e.
Melbourne and Adelaide are compared in an editorial in the Register on 4 July 1868, page 2c.
The editor of the Register ventured the following opinion on 11 June 1868, page 2c:
Adelaide, like all small and isolated communities, has passed through an Eatanswill
state of development - during which it was full of its own importance - impressed
with the dignity of its increasing wealth, on familiar terms with all leading
citizens, and tormented by a morbid passion for local news.
"As It Was", the reminiscences of James Jones - "The First Labor Candidate",
is in the Advertiser,
8 November 1913, page 6f.
Also see South Australia - Politics.
An English visitor gives his opinion of the city and environs in the Chronicle,
13 February 1869, page 7f.
A historical literary sketch of the city is in the Register,
1 January 1870, page 2d; also see page 5c on the same day.
"An Adelaide Letter in the Times" is in the Chronicle,
15 March 1873, page 11e.
Some activities in Adelaide "Between Night and Morning" are described in
3 and 15 February 1876, pages 4e and 4f,
"Adelaide by Night" on
16 January 1879, page 5c.
An editorial on Adelaide and its suburbs is in the Advertiser,
13 January 1879, page 4d. Also see Adelaide - Suburbs.
The city just now is in a bad way. It is in debt; it is on short allowance
of water; gas is abolished; the town is dusty in the extreme, and municipal
stenches are on the increase.
(Advertiser, 8 April 1879, page 4e.)
A Victorian's impressions of the city are in the Register,
22 January 1879, page 5a:
The state of the gutters in your streets and the way in which they are kept
is a disgrace to any civilised people... I see daily in my business walks
stagnant water in these channels of all the colours of the rainbow and the
deadly effluvium or miasma arising from them and which we have to inhale
is perfectly sickening... Then there are those cesspits which might do in
the country three or four chains from the dwelling-house, but which in the
city in many instances are only a few yards away from the houses. They are
a standing disgrace and a slur on your other-wise progressive city.
"A Dark Side of Adelaide Life" is in the Observer,
25 January 1879, page 20f,
1 February 1879, page 11b,
"Adelaide by Night" in the Chronicle,
25 January 1879, page 21d.
"Public Improvements" is in the Advertiser,
20 August 1879, page 5e.
Under the heading "The Capital of South Australia" an expatriate colonist expresses his opinion of the city in the Glasgow Weekly Mail as reproduced in the Register, 18 October 1879, page 6g:
The climate is the benignest under heaven and every fruit known seems to ripen
in its smile... And to this sun-favoured soil are flocking thousands to find
that it is not all their fancy painted... To a working man, with a strong
heart and plenty of patience, this might prove to be an advantageous place
in the long run... It is perhaps the dearness of fuel that renders colonial
cooking so abominable. A boarding-house diet is quite sufficient to ruin
the noblest digestion...
An emigrant expresses his opinion of the city in the Register on 20 January 1880 (supp.), page 1e - "[It]... is a beautifully laid out city with nice wide streets and pathways..."; he continues and supplies interesting information on his employment.
Impressions of Adelaide are in the Express,
23 September 1880, page 3c,
6 November 1880, page 3e,
9 October 1880, page 5e,
"Adelaide and Suburbs - More Than Forty Years Ago" is in the Register,
25 November 1924, page 8h.
A Victorian's impressions of Adelaide are in the Register,
24 June 1881 (supp.), page 2a - "King William Street is, without doubt, the finest street in the colonies...".
"A Stranger's Opinion of Adelaide" is in the Chronicle,
25 June 1881, page 9e.
"Beautiful Adelaide" is in the Express,
27 March 1882, page 2f.
A correspondent to the Register on 2 December 1884 at page 7e opines that:
It would appear that the skimmings of the slums from the old country are being
poured upon us and safety of either person or property is fast becoming a
reminiscence... Our beautiful Park Lands are the haunts of blackguardism;
our pretty river banks conceal obscenity; the habit of idleness grows rank
by indulgence... Why do not the citizens organise for self-protection a city
and suburban guard... Where are our rifle volunteers? Shall our women be
befouled and degraded on our suburban roads and Park Lands while they sulk
and their rifles rust?
"Dissolute Adelaide" is in the Chronicle,
10 January 1885, page 9d,
"Fair Adelaide" in the Observer,
19 September 1885, pages 41d-42.
Sketches of "a dusty day in the city" are in the Pictorial Australian in December 1885, page 209.
The city and suburbs are described in the Register,
21 June 1887 (supp.), while
"A Look at Adelaide" appears on
16 August 1887, page 6f.
The city in the 1860s is recalled on
6 July 1912, page 18c.
An article "In Praise of Adelaide" reproduced from a Manchester newspaper is in the Register, 23 October 1888, page 5b:
Absent is the soot-laden air... [It] looks what it really is - a fresh, blooming,
new-born city... And withal the spirit of freedom rules supreme. You can
see it in the broad, bold and ambitious streets... in the broad belt of park
lands like an ancient Roman wall... In all this Adelaide is very un-English
and very American...
An interesting letter headed "The City of Dogs" is in the Register,
26 June 1889, page 7e and
a dog nuisance is discussed on
24 April 1891, page 6g.
Also see Adelaide - Public Nuisances.
"My Impressions of Adelaide - By a Working Man" is in the Advertiser,
5 November 1889, page 6a,
"Death Traps of Adelaide" on
14 November 1890, page 6c.
"The Back Slums" is in the Register, 10 June 1892, page 7h:
When we got into morally malodorous Rosina Street the experience was nauseating
in a certain sense. Dirty, slatternly women, half-drunk and wholly impudent
thrust their uncombed, frowsy heads out of windows... The houses of most
were evil-smelling, dirty, untidy and pervaded by lazy, lounging, bold blackguards
An interstate opinion of the city appears in the Register,
15 November 1893, page 5d - "It excells in two things - piety and the market manipulation of mining shares...".
Comprehensive articles on the subject of "Our Food Supply" are in the Advertiser,
5, 7, 14 and 19 May 1898, pages 6b (bread), 10c (meat), 5f (dairy produce), and 6a (fish),
4 and 20 June 1898, pages 7a (fruit & vegetable) and 6c (milk); also see
12 May 1898, page 6i.
Also see Adelaide - Public Health - Milk Supply.
"Cleaning the Streets" is in the Express,
13 January 1899, page 2c.
"Greater Adelaide - Neglected Opportunities" is in the Chronicle,
11 and 18 February 1899, pages 28a and 21e,
11 March 1899, page 28a.
A letter headed "The Dust Fiend" is in the Register,
22 November 1898, page 7e:
The dust fiend is allowed to play havoc in this fair city... with very little
check, much to the vexation of the long-suffering citizens. This nuisance
is one of the reproaches of the place and the city is fast earning an unenviable
reputation elsewhere for its duststorms... People arriving by train had to
encounter a veritable Sahara upon leaving the Station...
An editorial on the dust nuisance under the heading "The Flying Microbe" is
in the Advertiser,
11 January 1902, page 6c; also see
22 January 1902, page 4d,
"Suppressing Dust" is traversed in the Register,
29 September 1903, page 8f; also see
11 April 1904, page 4f,
19 September 1904, page 3f,
18 and 29 November 1904, pages 6e and 3f,
13 March 1905, page 4e,
4 March 1907, page 9b,
6 August 1907, page 4e,
28 December 1907, page 4c,
14 December 1909, page 6e,
26 November 1912, page 6h.
The reminiscences of Mrs W. Garlick are in the Register,
21 September 1899, page 4h.
"A Birdseye View of Adelaide" is in the Advertiser,
4 April 1900, page 11f:
Is it a dream, hopeless of becoming reality, to look forward to a time when
Adelaide will stretch forth in alternate streets, parks and squares to Largs
Bay... when Salisbury will be a suburb, affected by the wealthy citizens,
who will speed homeward by the electric car [tram], and when Parafield, now
the subject of such heated discussion as the site of a cemetery, will see
some future Alderman Tomkinson arguing that it is too near the commercial
portion of the State capital?
"Darkest Adelaide - A Night's Investigation" is in the Advertiser,
28 July 1900, page 10f.
"Adorning the City" is in the Advertiser,
10 January 1902, page 4c,
"Beautiful Adelaide - A Chat with the Mayor" on
23 August 1902, page 9f.
"Cleansing the Capital - Tour Through the City" is in the Register,
9 September 1902, page 6d,
"Fair Adelaide - A Cure for Pessimists" on
27 September 1902, page 10a,
"Beautiful Adelaide" on
28 January 1903, page 4c.
"Civic Enterprise - Abattoirs, Market Extensions and Refuse Destructor" is
in the Register,
26 June 1903, page 6c and
11 July 1903, page 6h.
Also see Adelaide - Public Health - Slaughterhouses and Abattoirs. Adelaide - Markets. and Adelaide - Halifax Street.
"Fair Adelaide" is in the Register,
8 June 1900, page 5i.
A visitor expresses his opinion of the city in the Register,
25 April 1901, page 3d:
The charm of your city is only equalled by the kindness and hospitality of
its inhabitants. But there is one blot upon an otherwise fair picture. Your
streets are swimming with, dirty, howling boys, who spend their time loafing
around ostensibly selling matches but some really begging... [Off] Hindley
Street there are about 20 of them playing pitch and toss, in almost every
conceivable state of rags and dirt...
"Fair Adelaide - From a Schoolboy's Essay" is in the Register,
30 August 1902, page 5h:
... The river is emptied at stated periods to allow people to search for their
missing friends or relatives... There are no cable cars, because under the
present system tramhorses can be used to feed the animals at the Zoo. Members
of Parliament... sit for six months, cackle a good deal but (unlike other
fowls) do not hatch much... I like the people... they are so intellectual
and took such a deep interest in the leading national events such as the
Transvaal crisis, the Fashoda trouble and test matches... [I] will close
by quoting the words of Tennyson:
There is a land where summer flies
Come buzzing in your nose and eyes
Blended in witching harmonies
"Go Ahead Adelaide - Impressions of an American Journalist" is
in the Register,
7 February 1903, page 5e.
The reminiscences of Mr W. Round are in the Observer,
2 January 1904, page 38e.
"Around the City - Tragedy and Comedy" is in the Register,
25 June 1904, page 8h,
"Civic Pomp" on
9 July 1904, page 6d.
"Impressions of the City" is in the Register,
21 January 1905, page 6e:
To the idea also that gave birth to the villa residence we owe much for our
present standard of health and comfort... There is noticeable here a distinct
moral and religious atmosphere that cannot but have an elevating effect upon
the rising generation.
The following appears in the Register of 9 March 1905, page 4h and was taken from a pamphlet circulated in California, USA:
South Australia offers many attractions. As a health spot Adelaide hills, with
wild floral fragrance, pure air, water, and eucalyptus are unrivalled. People
eat, sleep and enjoy life better, live longer there than in many parts of
California. Nature seems to have made it a disease-resisting land. There
is no rank vegetation, no malaria, no alkali, no poison oak, no catarrh,
no rattlesnakes to disturb the day's outing...
"Disfiguring the City - The Military Parade Ground" is in the Advertiser,
18 May 1905, page 8d,
27 August 1912, page 10d,
25 October 1923, page 9e.
Also see South Australia - Defence of the Colony.
A review of a book titled Afterglow Memories, reminiscences of old
days in Adelaide, is in the Observer,
8 July 1905, page 4c.
"Saturday Night in the City" is in the Register,
18 November 1905, page 4e.
"Our Queenly City - How It is to be Improved" is in the Observer,
30 December 1905, page 46c.
"A Visit to Adelaide - A Delightful City" is in the Register,
11 January 1907, page 6h; also see
14 January 1907, page 4e,
"Beautiful Adelaide - And Beyond" is on
22 January 1907, page 4b and
"Adelaide Easily First" on
23 January 1907, page 5b.
"The City Beautiful" is in the Register,
25 March 1908, page 4d and
20 December 1909, page 8c,
"Queen City of the South - English Compliment to Adelaide" on
23 February 1910, page 5a; also see
7 March 1910, pages 6f-7g.
"How it Strikes a Newcomer" is in the Advertiser,
18 April 1907, page 5i.
"Adelaide and Its People" is in the Advertiser,
5 June 1909, page 9e,
"Adelaide Praised - A True Garden City" on
1 September 1909, page 7i.
"The Queen City" is in the Register,
1 and 20 April 1910, pages 6f and 5d,
"The Philadelphia of Australia" on
4 April 1910, page 7c,
"Adelaide the Beautiful - A Story of Progress" is in the Advertiser,
26 March 1910, page 14a,
"Our Beautiful City - Progress and Expansion" on
11 March 1911, page 7,
"A Newcomer's Impressions" on
29 July 1912, page 12a.
"Hoardings and Civic Beauty" is in the Register,
26 April 1912, page 4d,
Also see under South Australia - Transport - Roads.
"Life in Adelaide - The Under Side" is in the Register,
10 June 1912, page 8h
"As Others See Us" on
20 August 1913, page 13a.
"Adelaide Through American Spectacles" is in the Register,
15 November 1913, page 7b.
"Progressive Adelaide - Modern Developments" is in the Register,
27 March 1911, page 7b.
Our city is famed far and wide for beauty and cleanliness and it seems a pity
that it should be blackened and polluted by the black smoke belching forth
from manufacturers' chimney stacks.
(Register, 18 February 1911, page 15g.)
"Fifty Years a Butcher - Chat With Mr Conrad" is in the Advertiser,
7 June 1913, page 6e; also see
1 August 1913, page 11a.
Also see Adelaide - Factories and Mills - Conrad and Company .
The reminiscences of Edward Laughton appear on
15 July 1913, page 11a.
"Adelaide for Pleasure" is in the Register on
12 February 1914, page 6e,
"Our City - Facts Worth Remembering" on
29 April 1915, page 5a.
"The Beauties of Adelaide - Sydney Journalist's Impressions" is in the Register,
19 February 1914, page 7e.
"Chat With an Ex-Mayor" is in the Advertiser,
4 April 1914, page 22d.
The reminiscences of John Battle are in the Advertiser,
17 July 1914, page 8h,
of George McLeish on
5 May 1916, page 7b and
of Henry Hussey on
30 December 1918, page 7d.
A resident passed the following opinion in 1915:
Small tumble-down huts, in wretched culs-de-sac, where our fellow-citizens
meal, sleep and smoke... lend charm to the West End... One is puzzled...
to know how the phrase "Beautiful Adelaide" is to be interpreted... [for]
a good deal of rubbish needs to be removed. Sometimes it assumes the form
of shops, or dwellings, and more particularly of stones, dirt and pre-historic
structures on North Terrace... As a lover of light, beauty and morality will
you, Sir, assist as to the attainment of these.
(Register, 13 July 1915, page 9f.)
The reminiscences of Mr J.S. Lawson are in the Chronicle,
18 March 1916, page 15a.
"Beautiful Adelaide - A Sydney Visitor's Impressions" is in the Advertiser,
28 November 1917, page 9c.
"Adelaide Within the Squares - Interesting Reminiscences" is in the Register,
20 March 1918, page 9c.
"After Dark - Wednesday Night in the City" is in the Register,
26 June 1919, page 7c,
"Adelaide From Above" is described in the Register,
30 October 1919, page 7e.
"City Plague Spots" is in the Register,
25 September 1919, page 6c,
"As Others See Us - An Angry Visitor" on
28 May 1920, page 7d.
An article by Rev John Blacket on the reminiscences of Isaac Breaker is in
7 January 1922, page 2a.
"Adelaide Criticised", by a self-confessed "Pommy", is in the Register,
9 March 1922, page 3b:
In a squalid district I eventually got house-room, where the occupants were
dependent upon a fortnightly purchase of Truth [a newspaper] to feed their
mental pabulum - ignorance is not the name... The common habit of spitting
in the streets is despicable... A city of churches - save the mark! I went
to one regularly twice a day for six weeks and no one spoke to me... Australians
dislike the pommies. Dislike is not the word - hate them is the right term.
(Also see Register, 13 March 1922, page 9e.)
"Adelaide Fifty Years Hence" is in the Observer,
8 November 1924, page 18d.
"Smug Adelaide - An Easterner's Impressions" is in the Register,
26 May 1923, page 10f,
"The City of Adelaide" on
27 November 1923, page 6c.
"As Others See Us" is in The News,
30 March 1925, page 6e.
"Sinful Adelaide - Sunday Sports and Gambling" is in the Register,
6 May 1925, page 9c.
Also see South Australia - Religion - Breaking the Sabbath.
The reminiscences of Mrs M.J. Pickering are in the Chronicle,
3 May 1924, page 54c.
"The Growth of Adelaide" is in the Advertiser,
5 March 1927, page 12g,
"Old Adelaide - A Contrast With the Present" on
16 November 1927, page 15h.
The reminiscences of William E. Adams are in the Observer,
20 August 1927, page 19c,
of C.S. Burnard on
28 July 1928, page 54c.
"Praise for Girls, Hills and City Buildings" is in the Advertiser,
25 November 1933, page 16f,
"Classic Charm of Adelaide" on
26 February 1935, page 8i,
"Exploring Adelaide" on
2, 9 and 16 March 1935.
"An Excursion Into the Past" is in The News,
12 March 1935, page 4g.
"City of Space and Grace", by Ernestine Hill, is in the Advertiser,
26 May 1934, page 18i,
"City of Light" on
6 October 1936, page 18d,
"Fairy Tale City of the Plain" on
26 December 1936, page 7g.