Rifle butts monument

This plaque marks the site of former rifle butts. These were huge earthen structures used for rifle practice in the 1800's.

The earliest recorded use of this Park after European settlement was in the training of volunteer military forces. A well-trained militia was seen as an important asset to the colony.

A rifle range nearly a kilometre long was set up in the 1860s, which incorporated large rifle butts - a set of four tall mounds made of earth and stone.

The rifle butts were as tall as a two or three storey building. The riflemen shot at them, so they had a large target!

However, the rifle range was not fenced off from the public walking between Unley and the City, nor from the cattle that were still permitted to graze in the Park Lands. There were several reports of near misses.

In one case, fourteen-year-old Master Ebworth, was stooping to pick up a piece of wheat. As he stooped, he had his hat knocked off by an errant bullet. At another time, a pedestrian walking past was told by the rifle-butt man that he could safely go on, only to hear the crack of a rifle and whizz of an overhead bullet.

There were no fatalities during this era, but that is probably down to luck, rather than the care and aim of the marksmen.

Concerns over this use of the Park Lands so close to Adelaide’s growing population caused the closure of the range in 1878.

The stones of the butts were carted off to build new cattle sheds on North Terrace, while the mounds of earth were intended to be incorporated as a feature of the park. However, the mounds were removed in 1903 and the soil used in the planting of trees in the Southern Park Lands.

This park was also used as the site of volunteer military parades during World War Two.

Now, turn around and walk back into the Park along the old access road until you come to a small garden in the centre of the Park.

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