A new hardcover copy of The Adelaide Parklands: a social history came across my desk this week, a Wakefield Press title, written by 2013 SA’s Historian of the year Patricia Sumerling.
This is a glorious book, full of rich social history, and fabulous photographs of the parklands throughout the past century. It traces the early days from Colonel Light’s initial plan in 1837 to the present day.
From the Wakefield Press synopsis: Where crowds once thronged for a public execution, or to see Blondin, the tightrope walker of Niagara Falls fame, now thousands gather for car races and cultural festivals. Adelaideans play sport in the Park Lands, get married, enjoy picnics, and meet for secret assignations. Many simply seek tranquil retreat in the Park Lands – although, as Patricia Sumerling shows, controversy has been never far away.
Sumerling talks about the political influences upon their development, the various festivals and celebrations the parklands have seen and some of the complaints from citizens about these uses. One that stood out from the early 1900’s was a complaint that the parklands on weekends and evenings were full of ‘loose behaviour of hundreds of couples lying about in all directions..,’ and I think ostrich harness racing probably wins the weird event prize.
Patricia Sumerling will be speaking at the Library about her book and a history of the Parklands in late October so watch this space for details.