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View of Gladys Elphick Park / Narnungga
A park for play and peace, culture and cricket!
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The city park celebrating culture and cricket

One of the 30 parks within the expansive Adelaide Park Lands has been given a makeover, a meaningful new name honouring an inspiring Adelaide woman and, in 2020, will host a series of warm-up matches in the lead-up to the Women’s T20 World Cup.

Located in the west Park Lands –  across Port Road from the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, Gladys Elphick Park / Narnungga (Park 25) now officially honours the life and work of Gladys Elphick (1904 – 1988) – pictured below.

Aunty Glad (as she was known) was a Kaurna and Narnungga woman. Born in Adelaide and raised on Point Pearce Reserve, her maternal great-grandmother was Kudnartu (after whom North Adelaide’s Wellington Square is named).

Aunty Gladys Elphick
Aunty Gladys Elphick | Photograph credit: Aunty Gladys’ family

A champion for equality, Aunty Glad advocated against discrimination of Aboriginal people and worked as a social worker for women. As the founding president (1964 – 1973) of the Council of Aboriginal Women of South Australia, she worked to raise the status of Aboriginal people in the community.

Between 1966 – 1971, Aunty Glad was a member of the South Australian Aboriginal Affairs Board. She was appointed MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in 1971 for services to the Aboriginal people and named ‘SA Aboriginal of the Year’ In 1984.

Aunty Glad possessed a “lively sense of humour” and “a shrewd personality” that “pierced through humbug”. In 2003 the Aboriginal women’s group advising the International Women’s Day Committee (South Australia) presented the inaugural Gladys Elphick award.

The naming of this park after Aunty Glad followed consultation with family and Kaurna Elders. The park is also known as Narnungga – which means ‘native pine place’ in the language of the Kaurna People, the traditional owners and custodians of the Adelaide Plains.

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Gladys Elphick Park / Narnungga
Wayfinding signage throughout the park ensures you always know where you’re heading

Like all the open spaces within the Adelaide Park Lands, Gladys Elphick Park / Narnungga continues to be an important place for people to meet and connect – even more so following a $7.3 million upgrade in 2018 of both its built and natural amenities – made possible through a partnership between the City of Adelaide and South Australian Government.

In March 2018, the South Australian Cricket Association (SACA)* took the covers off a new $10 million three-level community sporting pavilion located in the centre of Gladys Elphick Park / Narnungga. A coup for South Australian cricket, the new facilities offer six changerooms, including state-of-the-art women’s facilities, tiered seating, sculptured viewing terraces, a function room and player viewing areas. The upgraded main ground honours another inspiring local woman, Karen Rolton.

Gladys Elphick Park / Narnungga
A shady stroll to SACA’s new community sporting pavilion

A 2018 inductee into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame, Karen Rolton is a former South Australian and Australian captain. She played 14 Tests, 141 one-day internationals and 15 T20Is between 1995 and 2009, scoring more than 5,800 runs and posting ten centuries. Rolton remains the only woman to score a century in a World Cup final and has scored more Test runs (1,002) than any other Australian.

Adelaide will be one of two preparation hubs for teams competing in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in 2020. The oval at Gladys Elphick Park / Narnungga is set to host five of the world’s best teams for a series of warm-up matches to be scheduled in the week before the World Cup commences on 21 February 2020. Fixtures and ticketing details will be announced in early 2019.

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Integrated with the SACA redevelopment, the recent investment in the enhancement of Gladys Elphick Park / Narnunnga has created new spaces and more ways for people to enjoy this scenic open space in the city’s west. Led by the City of Adelaide, these improvements were thoughtfully planned to meet both current and future needs. Initial works have enhanced connections with the city’s west and are drawing more people to the park with a wider range of community amenities on offer. Moving forward, there are opportunities for future enhancements to meet the community’s changing needs.

With summer upon us, the mature shady trees make Gladys Elphick Park / Narnungga a great spot for families to enjoy a city picnic. A meandering network of paths around and through the park provide ample opportunity to run off lunch or take your pick of a selection of vantage points to sit back and watch a peaceful game of cricket or a boisterous footy match – or you can join in a game yourself. The various logs and low walls along the pathways can be used as natural work-out stations or just let the kids loose on them to enjoy some old-fashioned nature play. There are also several grassy knolls your little ones will love rolling down! For added convenience, a new public toilet was installed as part of the upgrade.

Gladys Elphick Park / Narnungga
A sea of green as you look across the western end of Gladys Elphick Park / Narnungga

Importantly, Gladys Elphick Park / Narnungga has become a place of natural respite for both visitors to and patients of the Royal Adelaide Hospital, with connection between the two locations made easier with new and improved pedestrian and cyclist connections.

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So next time you’re looking for a place to take the kids or meet your mates for a few relaxed overs, a kick of the footy, a jog or just to roll out the picnic blanket – head to the west and rediscover this glorious patch of city open space!

*Click here to see SACA’s 2018-19 Season Fixture Card

Skye Murtagh

Skye Murtagh

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