I should state upfront, lest people who have visited this fountain prior to 2014 think I have lost my sense of direction, that this fountain has in fact moved. It is at the southern end of Victoria Square and not the northern end, having been moved in a 2013-14 redevelopment of the Square.
To commemorate the visit of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh in 1963 the local council decided to build a fountain. After much debate local artist and prolific sculptor, John Dowie, was engaged to design a fountain worthy of their Royal Highnesses.
In describing his fountain in the Advertiser newspaper on 22 February 1967 Dowie said:
“’It’s an ancient tradition for fountains to honour the gods of the rivers that feed it. We have no river gods, but the water feeding this fountain will come from the Murray, the Onkaparinga and the Torrens and I decided to make it symbolic of this’. The rivers are represented by human figures and birds: ‘I made the two lesser rivers female figures (a woman and a black swan for the Torrens and a woman with a heron for the Onkaparinga). These are the cultivated areas, so I made the women European. But the old substantial Murray is male and had to be Aboriginal’. The Aboriginal man holds an ibis.”
While I quite like the granite and aluminium fountain and think that it adds substantially to the ambience of the Square, Prince Philip, when he switched the fountain on during a subsequent visit to Adelaide on 28 May 1968 was not so sure. He commented:
‘although there is not material advantage in having a fountain, it will give future citizens a great deal of pleasure, and no doubt a great deal to argue about’.
and later reputedly referred to it as a ‘monstrosity’ – a the view shared by the council gardener at the time.
Address: Victoria Square
Directions: Southern side of the Square