A few steps past the cricket nets, at the top of a gentle rise, a dirt road rolls away downhill, towards the west. The road is lined with about a dozen mature pepper trees.
One of the lovely things about this Park is that it's not flat. The gentle slopes give it much more character than some other parts of the Park Lands. It's said to be a reminder of the Adelaide landscape prior to European settlement in1836.
Like so many other parts of the Adelaide Park Lands, this Park was cleared of almost all trees in the first three decades of European settlement – from the late 1830's to the late 1860's. During that time it was used for gathering firewood and grazing cattle.
Attempts to turn it into a proper Park really commenced only with fencing and tree plantings in the late 1870s and 1880s.
This avenue of pepper trees is just one of the many notable achievements of City Gardener August Pelzer, who virtually ruled the Park Lands for 33 years from 1899. The pepper trees here were planted in 1905. There were more of them initially. Some have been lost over the years.
Before Pelzer's time, a Scottish forestry expert, John Ednie Brown, had recommended creating a semi-formal Victorian Garden, and laid out a plan for it. Pelzer used elements of Brown’s plan, without fully committing to it.
More recently, King Rodney Park was one of 32 sites in the Park Lands for the “SA Urban Forests - Million Tree Program” which ran from 2003 to 2012. It aimed to recreate the original woodland environment where possible, and protect remnant grasses.
Most of the trees planted during that period were put in along the course of Botanic Creek.
NOW, WALK DOWN THE HILL AND STOP AT THE EDGE OF THE MAIN SPORTING OVAL.