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Victoria Square fountain re-emerges

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The reconstruction of Victoria Square’s famed Three Rivers Fountain is underway.

The heritage-listed fountain and its 18-metre-wide hexagonal pool have been relocated to the southern end of Victoria Square (Tarntanyangga) as part of Stage 1 of the square’s redevelopment.

Stage 1, which has seen the northern end of Victoria Square upgraded and the fountain moved, is budgeted to cost Adelaide City Council $28 million.

The cost of the full redevelopment is expected to be up to $110 million, but Stage 2 of the project has not yet been budgeted for.

Despite a few hitches – including the discovery of asbestos under the site and the repaving of the central roadway – the upgrade is running on time and on-budget, a council spokeswoman said.

The details of Stage 2 are subject to council deliberation.

The Three Rivers fountain was designed by John Dowie and opened in 1968 by the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Phillip.

The fountain was built to commemorate the visit of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke five years earlier.

Despite this association, Prince Phillip was reputed to have called the fountain “a monstrosity”.

The three figures on the fountain represent the state’s major rivers – the Torrens, Onkaparinga and Murray – but the symbolism is a little dubious.

A year before the fountain’s opening, Dowie is quoted as having said: “I made the two lesser rivers female figures. These are cultivated areas, so I made the women European. But the old substantial Murray is male and had to be Aboriginal.”

The council expects the fountain to be complete by the middle of the year.

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