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The inaugural Arbor Day in Australia was held in Adelaide’s south parklands on 20 June 1889 following the first ‘arbor day’ in Nebraska in the United States in 1872. The proposal was backed by several South Australians, including parliamentarian John Cockburn, Bureau of Agriculture Secretary Albert Molineux, Conservator of Forests John Ednie Brown and Friedrich EHW Krichauff, a prominent advocate of scientific agriculture and forestry. Concerned about the rapid loss of vegetation across the South Australian landscape and the need to conserve soils and assist pastoral sustainability, Brown prepared a report on the ‘desirableness for the establishment of an Arbor Day’. After a parade of some 5000 Adelaide school children and dignitaries, a parade of the participants from Victoria Square, the governor, Lord Kintore, and his wife, planted a Bunya Bunya (Araucaria bidwillii) and a Weeping Scotch Elm (Ulmus pendula) that grow today. Representative groups of pupils planted trees in designated areas. While this event has not continued, 100 trees were planted at an Arbor Day centenary ceremony on 20 June 1989 near the original site.

By David S Jones

This entry was first published in The Wakefield companion to South Australian history edited by Wilfrid Prest, Kerrie Round and Carol Fort (Adelaide: Wakefield Press, 2001). Edited lightly and references updated. Uploaded 23 April 2014.

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First Arbor Day Celebration

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Image: Lord Kintore
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South Australian Arbor Day Celebrations

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