Adelaide is the best planned nineteenth century city in the world.
It was the first city in Australia to be planned before settlement began.
The City Layout and surrounding belt of Park Lands devised by Colonel William Light in 1837 anticipates a new approach to urban design emphasising public open space which later provided inspiration to the Garden City movement.
Together, the City and Park Lands cover an area of 13 square kilometres (5 square miles).
More than half of this is open green space.
Adelaide’s Park Lands are larger than Central Park in New York and Hyde Park in London combined. More than 170 years after Light set out his plan they were recognised on the National Heritage List in 2008 as “an enduring treasure for the people of South Australia and the nation as a whole”.
The grid pattern of the city spread over one square mile (1.6 kilometres) has been used since ancient times.
Light’s use of the grid with five city squares echoes that of William Penn’s Philadelphia in the United States.
However it is the sweeping figure of eight ring of open space centred on the river and encompassing the formal grid layouts North and South that distinguishes Light’s design for Adelaide.
The legacy of Light’s vision for a city wrapped in a park remains largely intact, despite numerous encroachments and periods of destruction and neglect.
Today, our unique Park Lands are both more valued and more vulnerable than ever before.
Once again we need to remember the value of this gift and fight to preserve this land as public space open to all.
This trail enables you to explore and enjoy one of the world’s most visionary designs for an urban environment. Because of the magnificent scale of Light’s plan, you could easily spend more than a day discovering the 28 designated parks that make up the Adelaide Park Lands and several more making your way through the city grid nestled within.
Make a start on the walk from wherever you choose, there are points north, south, east and west where you can pick up the trail.