The HMS Buffalo, the ship carrying Governor “elect” Hindmarsh and other early settlers of South Australia arrived in Holdfast Bay, Glenelg on the 28th December 1836.
That afternoon in a temperature of over 40 degrees centigrade (100+F – nothing has changed in this regard and summer temperatures regularly reach 40 degrees still) everyone gathered under the “Old Gum Tree” to listen to Hindmarsh reading a proclamation, on behalf of King William IV, which announced that the government and State of South Australia had been established, that the law would be enforced and that Aboriginal people would be protected.
On the occasion of the proclamation marines on the Buffalo fired a feu-de-joie, the white ensign was raised and the guns of the vessel rang out in a salute to the new Governor.
The Governer hosted “a cold collation”, which included dressed Hampshire ham ( and copious amount of alcohol by all accounts) and congratulated everyone for having such a fine country! Various toasts were drunk, the National Anthem (British), and Rule Britannia were sung and at 5pm the Governer departed for his ship leaving the merriment to continue all night.
21 years later on the 28th December 1857 a further day of public rejoicing was held to celebrate the State’s 21st birthday. The State’s 100th birthday in 1936 was celebrated by Australia Post with the issue of a one shilling stamp depicting the Old Gum Tree. The reading of the proclamation is now recreated each year on 28 December under the Old Gum Tree and in good Aussie tradition there is a free barbecue for all.
The Old Gum Tree (probably a red gum) to-day is infinitely more concrete infill than it is tree which in fact died in 1963.
There is a small children’s playground, a picnic area with tables and toilets in the small park.
Finally readers should note that there is controversy around whether or not this is the site of the foundation of South Australia in 1836. Whether it is or not is not especially relevant. The importance of the day, and its history, is not diminished.
Address: Old Gum Tree Reserve, MacFarlane Street
Directions: Intersection with Bagshaw Street