By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
The Adelaide Park Lands: a social history
By Patricia Sumerling (Wakefield Press, $49.95, hardcover, 283 pages)
In light of the fact that Adelaide’s Park Lands are an asset listed on the National Heritage Register, this history is a valuable and lasting account.
It records a cornucopia of cultural, economic and social history, along with controversies involving mishandling by both governments and citizens.
Historian Patricia Sumerling has to be commended for the arduous work put into collating this mammoth task which will benefit not only the present, but future generations as well.
This was the area where once crowds gathered for a public execution, or to see Blondin, the tightrope walker of Niagara Halls fame, and now thousands are packed in to watch locals play sport in the Park Lands, enjoy family picnics, get married and have secret assignations.
The Park Lands also offer a peaceful haven for many.
The book contains a lot of material that has been unpublished and covers a history that’s quite diverse.
Featured is an abundance of fascinating and weird tales and historical facts and fiction from the time of earliest European settlement to the present.
Countless archival and modern images shed light on the stories as they depict the attractiveness together with the bleak and troubling aspects of the Park Lands.
Sardonic cartoon drawings are intertwined with colour and black and white photos to reveal that public opinion over the past two centuries has not changed. Many of the images are reminiscent and noteworthy.
The Adelaide Park Lands is also an imperative reminder of the value of green open space to the ‘collective psyche and community life’.
Enjoy finding out what makes the Park Lands “unique in Australia, with no known counterparts elsewhere in the world”.
Edition 406, 22 April 2014
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.