Victoria Square was the largest of the six squares and the centerpiece of Light’s plan, originally named ‘the Great Square’ by him. Covering eight acres, Light imagined that it would become the commercial hub for the settlement. In the Northern end of the square, the State Survey mark today commemorates the commencement of Light’s survey on 11 January 1837.
Named after Princess Victoria, then heir to the British throne, who became Queen in June, just months after Light completed his survey, Victoria Square has been an important civic space ever since. Instead of commerce, the surrounds of the square are dominated by Government buildings, including the original Treasury and various court buildings.
The landscaping of the square went through many changes as various planting schemes were tried involving native and introduced species. By 1883 the square had been divided into four sections to enable King William Street to pass through from North to South. At the end of the nineteenth century many trees were removed and more lawns and flower beds were added.
The statue of Queen Victoria (1819-1901) that stands in the centre of the square was cast in bronze made from copper mined in the South Australian towns of Wallaroo and Moonta. It was unveiled in 1894 in the very centre of the square. Despite many other changes to the square the statue has maintained its position. Only in 2013 was the monument moved slightly to the north of its original location.
Victoria Square has great cultural and historical significance to Indigenous people. As part of the Adelaide City Council’s commitment to reconciliation with Aboriginal communities, places within the City have been given Kaurna names. The Square is now known as Victoria Square/ Tarntanyangga which is derived from ‘tarnta = red kangaroo’ and ‘kanya = rock’. Tarntanyangga is where the Australian Aboriginal flag was first unfurled in 1971. It remains a popular civic space for political gatherings and celebrations.
A tram line heading north from the square was reinstated in 2007 after being removed in the 1950s. A major redevelopment of the square was completed in 2014, including the addition of more seating and an events space.