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Published on 17 April 2024

Kangarilla grandstand sees 100 years of history


Squally rain fell on the hat and shoulders of Mrs E Hart, president of the Kangarilla Ladies Guild, as she watched the opening of the brand-new Kangarilla grandstand.

She was undeterred by the weather, on that Saturday afternoon on 17 May 1924, and proud of the guild’s achievements. She and her fellow members had raised the first 100 pounds to get the building works under way.

In honour of the guild’s work, three months earlier on 1 March Mrs Hart had unveiled the grandstand’s marble foundation stone.

Now she looked at those around her – the women in flapper dresses with dropped waists, their waved hair protected under their bowl-like cloche hats; the men in woollen suits; the children wriggling in their short dresses and short pants.

She smiled at the builder, Mr Adolph Schmidt, who sat nearby. Community members had donated the local stone, gravel, lime and cement for the grandstand and Mr Schmidt had provided some of his labour for free.

The result was a beautiful structure of honey-coloured freestone walls, red bricks marking the building’s corners and doors, exposed timber holding up the corrugated iron roof, and concrete masonry for seating.

The new elevated pavilion provided protection from the weather for spectators while the two small changerooms underneath were a much-needed addition for home and away teams. Now the cricket and football players wouldn’t have to get changed in the surrounding scrub.

Mr Hart turned her attention back to the ceremony where Mr F G Scammell loosened the ribbons to open the grandstand and Mr R G Morphett, chair of the Kangarilla Recreation Grounds Committee, cut the ribbon into souvenir pieces for sale.

The Kangarilla football team, with the formal part of the ceremony finally over, surged through the rain and onto the oval in their double-blue woollen guernseys. The Scott’s Creek team pounded in behind them.

Umpire Cameron stepped between the two rucks for a muddy centre bounce. The game was on.

Mrs Hart watched the first quarter as Kangarilla provided little defence against the Scott’s Creek forwards. Then she rose with purpose. All hands were needed to help prepare for the evening’s celebrations in the nearby Temperance Hall – dinner, a concert, a fete, a sports championship and a cake-weighing competition.

The hall was glistening with signs of luck – silver horseshoes and black cats – when the unlucky footy team arrived. Kangarilla had lost in a crushing defeat – 4 goals 6 points to Scott’s Creek’s winning 6 goals 14 points.

Mrs Hart pointed the players to the trestle tables full of roast lamb and vegetables, tea cakes dotted with cinnamon sugar and that wonderful new addition to Australian culinary life, Vegemite sandwiches.

Hours later, the food cleared away and the local singers raw of voice, Mr Morphett escorted Mrs Hart through the hall’s front door and locked it behind them.

Their smiles, barely visible in the overcast night, said it all. The day and the build were a rousing success – and they’d earned a further 70 pounds for the Kangarilla recreation ground that would serve as a community focal point for generations to come.


Kangarilla’s current generation is now waiting on a state government decision to list the grandstand as a local heritage place on the South Australian Heritage Register.

Secretary of the present-day Kangarilla Recreation Ground Committee, Mike Golder, says the grandstand holds a lot of history for the local community.

“For this reason, the committee applied in 2020 to have the grandstand listed as a local heritage place on the register,” he says.

Bernie Boag, chair of the Kangarilla Progress Association, says there are many reasons why the grandstand is a local treasure.

“The original works were made with donations and labour from local families, so the grandstand is a reflection of our community,” she says.

“Today, the grandstand is a focal point for people visiting the recreation ground and it’s a gathering point for spectators.”

Since its construction in May 1924, the grandstand has hosted local events like agricultural shows, gymkhanas, rodeos, football and cricket matches, family picnics, ANZAC Day commemorations, Country Fire Service staging areas and school excursions – as well as the annual community day.

The grandstand has also undergone its own makeovers.

Early on, a small iron-and-hessian annex was added to the changerooms with a welcome woodchip heater for much-anticipated hot showers.

After World War II, metal munitions containers were bolted to the changeroom walls to act as lockers. Mounted at head height, players added banged heads to their on-field injuries.

The entire roof was replaced after a wild storm in October 1993 when an easterly gale tore the 70-square-metre roof from its wires and sent it flying into Eunice Tonkin’s back paddock. A roof replacement followed.

The City of Onkaparinga restored the seating and replaced the wooden supports with steel in 2018.

The Minister for Planning is the final authority for approving the heritage listing.