When people identify places that are important to them, do they overlap with those that have been deemed important officially? The recent City of Marion Cultural Heritage Survey explored the unofficial heritage of the community. It also helped to illustrate crossover points where professional and public opinions regarding heritage overlap.
There was certainly an overlap in the Marion Historic Village, where several buildings are listed officially as having heritage value, either on the SA Heritage Register or as Local Heritage Places. These buildings were noted by many survey respondents, who also identified the remnant almond orchard along Oliphant Avenue as important. Almonds were once one of the main tourist attractions in Marion, with thousands of visitors coming on tour buses every July up until the 1950s to view the almond blossom. Although the almond orchards are no longer part of the Marion landscape, they live on in people’s memories, and the remnants are important tangible reminders of the past.
The Sturt River featured in many survey responses because of the importance of the remaining river red gums, scarred trees, the bike track, its history of flooding before the drainage scheme, its bridges, the wetlands and dense vegetation, connection with the Kaurna people, and the sound of the river flowing. Although the survey comments applied to the Sturt River in its entirety as it crosses the Marion Council area, there is no official heritage acknowledgement of the river, except that it flows through the state heritage-listed Warriparinga area. There is an interpretive tile near the river, however, as part of the historic walk in the Marion Historic Village.
Another natural element recorded in the survey was the Moreton Bay fig tree in the Fisk Avenue Reserve at Glengowrie. Again, there is some overlap between official and unofficial heritage. This tree was previously recorded in a 1990 heritage survey of Marion, and noted as the dominant feature of the reserve. In fact, the Council bought some of the land at the time to ensure that a proposed new development wouldn’t damage the tree.
It’s fair to say that the survey responses revealed a broad view of what’s important to local people. Some of the places recorded as important are already recognised officially on the list of Local Heritage Places or in the SA Heritage Register. However, more are considered important primarily by the local community, for example, trees and the river, but also the Westfield Marion Shopping Centre, local reserves and children’s playgrounds. They lend themselves to recording and recognition through oral histories, community maps, plantings and interpretive signage.