Veale Gardens, in the South Park Lands, is a fine example of mid-twentieth century thinking about gardens and public space. In 1957 Bill Veale (1895-1971), the Town Clerk (chief administrator) of the City of Adelaide returned from a study tour visiting 40 cities in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Europe inspired with a new vision for transforming Adelaide’s Park Lands into a series of landscaped gardens.
Work began the next year in Rymill Park and Veale Gardens followed in 1959. The plan for Veale Gardens included the construction of grottos, rockeries, statues, a floral clock and various water features. A key structure was the Alpine-styled restaurant, opened in 1963. The restaurant was designed to be in keeping with what Veale called the “alpine” theme of the garden, based on an illustration of a Cincinnati restaurant that he saw in the American periodical Architectural Record. The idea was ridiculed in some quarters, but the structure has endured as a landmark of modernist public architecture. The Alpine Restaurant is now known as the Adelaide Pavilion.
Veale Gardens exhibits the serpentine-style canal through its centre, and winding paths, designed to demonstrate the plantings and features throughout the gardens, such as the rose garden. Sculptures such as “Pan” designed by local sculptor John Dowie and “The Couple” by Dutch immigrant Beren van der Struik proved controversial.
Despite the various criticisms, the gardens soon proved their popularity and the Alpine Restaurant was in huge demand. Today, Veale Gardens remains much as Bill Veale planned it and is a popular events location. It shows again the many ways in which the Adelaide Park Lands have been embraced and transformed by successive generations.