Bonython Park: Naming and landscaping in the 1960s

This Park received its English name only in 1962 after it had been landscaped.

At that point it was named in honour of prominent South Australian politician and journalist Sir John Lavington Bonython, who died in 1960. He was the son of John LANGDON Bonython. Bonython Hall on North Terrace, part of Adelaide University is named after the older Bonython. This Park is named after the younger Bonython.

The name is actually somewhat ironic - in the years just before his death in 1960, John Lavington Bonython was critical of what was being planned here. He had envisaged a more grandiose scheme for the area, which included creating a second lake as large as the existing Torrens Lake.

You may have heard the name William Veale in connection with the Adelaide Park Lands. Mr Veale was the Town Clerk of Adelaide (today we would call him the Chief Executive) for 18 years 1947 to 1965, and he left a very significant legacy on the Park Lands.

Together with the Mayor of the time, Arthur Rymill, their efforts are very noticeable throughout the Adelaide Park Lands. Rymill and Veale, as leaders of the City Council in the post-war era, were responsible for getting a lake and other facilities installed in Rymill Park, for the landscaping of what we know call Veale Gardens in Park 21 off South Terrace and Bonython Park.

Mr Veale laid out his plans for Park 27 in 1958. At the time, he said this area was like the ‘Siberia of the Park Lands’ and needed to be addressed. According to newspaper reports of the time it was regarded as “the most unsightly location in the Adelaide Park Lands”. The banks of the river looked like steep ravines.

The Council, led by Messrs Rymill and Veale started their landscaping scheme. It involved the removal of over 30,000 cubic metres of soil. A series of low weirs were built to form shallow lakes, and the land was transformed into the lawns, picnic grounds and gardens, that you can see today. The idea was that the shallow lakes could be safe for children, and also used for canoeing, small rowing and pedal boats.

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