John McDouall Stuart Monument

John McDouall Stuart Monument

A public collection for a statue in Adelaide to honour Stuart began in 1896. In mid 1901 the project was taken up by the Caledonian Society, and the state government pledged to match the funds raised. A design submitted by William Maxwell of Adelaide was selected. After lengthy attempts to find a suitable block of South Australian stone, marble was imported from Carrara, Italy. Maxwell died in 1903, so his design was executed in Adelaide over six months by several men, led by James White of Sydney. Master builder Walter Charles Torode oversaw the assembly of the statue on its base of New South Wales trachyte, topped by a bronze frieze featuring a Scottish Thistle. The pedestal features a globe with Australia in polished relief showing Stuart’s route.

The statue was unveiled in Victoria Square on 4 June 1904 amid controversy. None of the four surviving members of Stuart’s final expedition attended the ceremony. They had written to the Caledonian Society protesting against the selection of Maxwell’s design, arguing that it bore no resemblance to the man, that it represented Stuart ‘from a mere artistic point’. They wrote: ‘for the public and posterity we would like Stuart to appear as the typical bushman he undoubtedly was’. The society was also criticised for stubbornly sticking to a date for the unveiling that clashed with the commitments of the governor, lieutenant-governor, and the premier and his ministry.

The revealed statue and base confirmed their original concerns. Among the concerns were that the names of the nine members of Stuart’s party did not appear on the front of the memorial, but were relegated to the side. Regardless of the furore, or perhaps partly because of it, the memorial proved popular, as numerous members of the public came to view it on the days that followed the unveiling.


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In addition to commemorating the bold exploits of one of Australia's premier explorers the monument to John McDouall Stuart is of heritage value for the manner it invokes the era of the exploration of the Australian continent's interior and the many consequences that flowed from this. These included the South Australian annexation of the Northern Territory, the construction of the Overland Telegraph and the pastoral penetration of the interior. The location of Stuart's monument is also significant being located in Victoria Square.

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Images of John McDouall Stuart Monument

William Maxwell
Walter Charles Torode
Building materials
Stone, Marble
Architectural styles
3 Federation Period (c. 1890–c. 1915)
1904 -
Architecture and design features
bronze, trochyte
Engineering features
Victoria Square- Tarndanyangga
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
Adelaide City Council
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Commemorative, Statue
AS2482 classification
32240 - Monument - Column - Cairn - Cross - Shrine - Marker - Statue
Public Access
Access unrestricted
State Heritage ID
ACC Reference No.
DPTI Heritage No.
Certificate of Title No.
CR 5779/247 F218073 A116
NTSA file exists
Heritage Status
State Heritage listed
State heritage listing
State Heritage listed
Date of State heritage listing
Local heritage listing
Date of Local heritage listing
NTSA listing
Date of NTSA listing
Section 23 (4) crtiteria
Risk status
Historic Themes
5.1 Local Government
5.1.3 City Improvements and City Planning
6.2 Recreation and Entertainment
6.2.7 Enjoying the natural environment
6.5 Significant Events
6.5.2 Public spectacles and celebrations
Australian Curriculum references
Year 5: The Australian Colonies


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