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Tunnels

King William Road, Adelaide

A tunnel running under King William Road, behind Government House towards Frome Road was built between 1836 and 1856 for soldiers to bypass what is now King William Road (formerly City Bridge Road) when taking their horses to graze.

In the 1880s the tunnel was used for a train line between the Adelaide Railway Station and the Exhibition Building, which stood on land now occupied by the University of Adelaide.

The tunnel was closed in 1924. In 1973 the Adelaide City Council considered a proposal to re-open the tunnel as a pedestrian subway, but this never eventuated.

Old Treasury Building tunnels

The Old Treasury Building on the corner of King William Street and Flinders Street was once part of a complex of buildings which served as Adelaide's chief government offices. The Building was constructed in 1839, but much modified over subsequent years, and designed by George Strickland Kingston. Only one portion of wall from the original 1839 building is still standing.

The vaults below the Treasury Building were constructed in 1850 and predate the existing building. It is thought that gold discovered by South Australian diggers in the Victorian Goldfields was stored and smelted at the Treasury Building vaults. The tunnels contain a furnace and a well, but these date from after the goldrush era.

A tunnel entrance at the northern end of the Treasury vaults is thought to lead under Flinders Street to the Torrens Building on the corner of Wakefield Street and Victoria Square, however, it has been blocked for many years.

Further information about the King William Road and Old Treasury Building tunnels can be found in this conference paper: Morgan, Deb (Dept. of Environment and Heritage). Tunnel visions: Persistent myths about Adelaide's underground history, presented at the State History Conference (South Australia), 2006

Sleeps Hill Tunnels

The Sleeps Hill Tunnels on the Adelaide to Aldgate railway line were last used by trains in 1919. In 1942, when the Japanese entered World War Two and the threat to Australia increased, the Tunnels were used as a secret storage space. The shorter tunnel stored the state's most valuable and irreplaceable documents, records and artefacts from the Archives and Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery. Faced with large collections that would not fit into the tunnel, the Museum had to split some of them. The ethnological and entomological collections were numbered, with the even numbers being transported to the top secret hideout and the odd numbers remaining in the Museum. An enormous painting (about seven metres square) of King George VI's coronation, which was touring Australia on exhibition and happened to be in Adelaide at the time Japan entered the War, was also stored in the tunnel. Sensitive military records were housed there too. The second tunnel was used as an ammunition store. The valuable items were gradually returned to their institutions as the danger to Australia was diminished and the War came to an end.

King William Street: Treasury Building
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New Sleeps Hill railway tunnel
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Old city subway as festival walkway: Rediscovery of 188
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Wartime treasure storehouses
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