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A City Planned by Light

The story of Adelaide's design and layout is as fascinating as it is historic.

A City Planned by Light

European settlers first arrived in South Australia in 1836. Surveyor Colonel William Light was given the task of planning out the City. After deciding that the banks of the River Torrens would be the site for the state’s capital, Light laid out the City and the suburb of North Adelaide in a unique grid pattern featuring flat, wide streets, squares and terraces encircled by a ring of Park Lands.

To get a real sense of the City’s size and layout, visit Light’s Vision a lookout perched on top of Montefiore Hill in North Adelaide. Created in 1938, the lookout features a life-size bronze statue of Colonel Light and provides sweeping views of the Park Lands and the City.

To learn more about Adelaide’s history and view images of the past, visit the History Hub, located in the City Library

The City layout and Park Lands are widely regarded as a masterwork of urban design and signifies a turning point in the settlement of Australia. It was the first place in Australia to be planned and developed as a place for free settlers. The area received Australia's highest heritage honour when it was included in the National Heritage List on 7 November 2008.

A City Planned by Light
A City Planned by Light

The Adelaide Park Lands are arguably the City's defining feature and greatest asset. They consist of 7.6km2 (760ha) of green open space, providing a rich social, environmental and recreational resource for the City and wider metropolitan community.

In the past, the Park Lands have been used for a range of activities ranging from a home for livestock and grazing animals to military practice ranges and air raid shelters during the Second World War. Today, the Park Lands still maintain many of the cultural heritage places and elements which reflect their important history and are used for a variety of uses including sports, events, festivals, public art and civic ceremonies as well as fitness, recreational and leisure activities.

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