Adelaide, in South Australia, is known as the “20-minute city”, but if you stay at the Treasury, you can shave quite a few minutes off your travelling time. And you don’t leave a carbon footprint.
The Adina Apartment Hotel Adelaide Treasury and its hidden courtyard on King William Street is a Colonial oasis in the city’s heart. Facing Victoria Square, the 172-year-old former Treasury building is a great starting point from which to explore inner Adelaide on foot. The focus of the square shifts and changes as the city keeps pace with major events which range from the Adelaide Festival, Fringe and Womadelaide to the Clipsal 500 motor race.
In spring, Victoria Square is a hive of activity as contractors work to complete a $28 million facelift, ready for the international cycling event, the Tour Down Under, in January 2014. A few minutes’ walk south of the Treasury, extensive landscaped and paved areas are taking shape, the Three Rivers fountain has been shifted and the iconic statue of Queen Victoria is being restored. The western edge of the square will accommodate live music and pop-up cafes.
Opened in late 2002 after a $20 million restoration, the Adelaide Treasury was named in Cond Nast Traveler’s list of the top 80 best new hotels in the world. The dignified 19th century Victorian building evolved in stages and by the mid-1800s featured a three-storey central section boasting Florentine Palazzi architecture. Settlers once slept in its courtyard, queuing for land grants from the Survey Department. Today, it’s a popular meeting place for post-work drinks. River Murray explorer Captain Charles Sturt worked at the Treasury; the Premier’s Cabinet met in the Cabinet Room from 1876 to 1968 and the building was the political power base of former state premier Sir Thomas Playford. Limestone walls, archways and cast iron columns were retained in the restoration, heavy timber staircases and balustrades were restored and chic Italian-style finishes and fittings were used to create 79 comfortable one and two bedroom apartments and studio rooms.
The Cabinet Room, with its yellowing map of South Australia, timber table, leather chairs and book cabinets, was preserved and the underground tunnels, used in the late 1960s by Lands Department map-makers and surveyors, were restored. The Beatles used the tunnels to dodge the thousands of screaming fans which filled King William Street on their visit to Adelaide during the super group’s 1964 Australian tour.
But the rejuvenated Franklin Hotel in nearby Franklin Street has trumped that with a bit of its own history. The boutique pub has The Doors on a door.
The Treasury has long been a focal point for South Australians. On January 21, 1863, people flocked to the square in front of the building to welcome explorer John McDouall Stuart. Stuart had done his fair share of walking. The skeleton of a man in tattered clothing had led his ragged party of nine companions and skinny pack horses back from a 15-month-long, 3000km journey, crossing the continent south-to-north, from Adelaide to the Gulf of Carpentaria. On the same day, Melbourne was in mourning as the bones of Stuart’s rivals, Burke and Wills, who reached the Gulf but died on the return journey, were being buried in Victoria’s first state funeral.
In the 1930s, in the Great Depression, while homeless people lived in shanties along the River Torrens, others more vocal rallied in front of the Treasury building, protesting at the lack of beef in their rations. Today, the multi-award winning Treasury on King William Restaurant offers diners smoked Hahndorf venison with horseradish crème and olive oil, courtesy of innovative Riverland chef, Andy Thiele.
Diagonally south across Victoria Square, it’s a five-minute walk to Adelaide’s iconic Central Market. On the way, strollers will pass under the bronze gaze of the square’s namesake, Queen Victoria, surveying all with the countenance of a cane toad and an expression that after all these years “we are still not amused”.
Walk it out! (strolling time from the Adina Apartment Hotel Adelaide Treasury)
Adelaide Central Market, Victoria Square (5 minutes’ walk)
Australia’s best fresh produce market. Buy fresh Gulf-caught prawns
and a bottle of Clare Valley Riesling to eat back at the Treasury
Antique Market, 32 Grote St (5 minutes)
Explore 3000 square metres of vintage toys, jewellery, china, glassware,
militaria, sporting memorabilia, kichenalia and vintage clothing.
Jam Factory, 19 Morphett St (15 minutes)
Take a guided tour ($5 a person, $4 concession)
or watch for free the impressive art of glass blowing.
Franklin Boutique Hotel, 92 Franklin St (5 minutes)
One of the latest city pubs to be given a new lease on life.
Simple, trendy with exposed orange electrical conduit and old timber. Well-priced pub food.
Art Gallery of South Australia, North Tce (15 minutes)
Take a free tour revealing the history of a Colonial art collection recognised as the best in Australia.
All photos by Vincent Ross – All Rights Reserved