Home' SA 50s Lifestyle : SA 50s Summer 10 11 Contents 6 Summer 2010
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Growing up in a small house in
Liverpool Street, in the City of
Adelaide, former Lord Mayor Steve
Condous recalls playing with his
mates opposite the Newmarket
Hotel, running endlessly around a
stone monument. It was not until
many years later he discovered
it was the location where Colonel
William Light had placed the first
survey peg – and so his close
association with the city he loves
began at a very young age!
Back then, the city was a very
“We knew every person who lived
in the city,” he recalls, adding it
was a tight-knit community where
“everyone helped each other”.
The son of Greek migrants,
young Steve loved his childhood
surroundings. He attended the Sturt
Street Primary School, played hide-
and-seek among the Moreton Bay fig
trees in Victoria Square and spent
plenty of time fishing in the River
“I really do feel sorry for the kids of
today because they don’t enjoy the
simple things in life like we did.”
On a Saturday night he would walk
his billy goat, Nelly, down to Hindley
Street, where his father ran a café.
The street would be abuzz, packed
with thousands of people who were
trying to get seats to watch films in
the West, Metro and Civic theatres,
or perhaps see a live performance at
the Royal Theatre.
“Saturday night was just amazing.
The men would all wear suits and
hats and the women would get
However, he laments that nowadays
Hindley Street late at night is
“frightening” and no place for a
Steve’s association with the city
continued long after his childhood,
becoming the owner of Gehlerts
Cake Shop and a snack bar in the
“It was a huge business and we had
15 staff and sold probably the best
range of cakes anywhere in South
“Every weekend families would buy
a block of cake and then sit down
and have a chat.”
At his cake stall in the Central
Market he would sell 2000 dozen
rock buns every Friday and Saturday,
spruiking them for five for 20 cents!
Not afraid to express his views, Steve
initially sought a seat on the City of
Adelaide Council so he could shake
things up and improve the level of
service council offered to business
Once elected, he realised there were
many other issues that needed to
be addressed. In his 25 years on
council he says that while many of
councillors may have disagreed,
once a decision was made they
worked closely together for the
betterment of the city.
As soon as he became Lord Mayor
in 1987 he embarked on a program
to beautify the city’s parklands.
A trip to Paris had confirmed in his
mind what was possible in Adelaide
and he told the Council’s then head
of Parks and Gardens, Andrew
Taylor, that they were going to “plant
trees like they had never done
“I wanted to green the city – it was a
passion of mine,” he admits.
The program included planting Plane
trees along North Terrace, King
William and Pulteney streets and
throughout North Adelaide. However,
he believes the development of
Hutt Street “was my greatest
“I said to Andrew (Taylor), let’s rip
everything out and redo it as though
it is in one of the nicest suburbs in
In addition to redeveloping the Veale,
Bonython and Rymill Gardens,
Steve was also part of a council
that established 12 parking stations
to accommodate the increasing
number of cars coming into the city.
“We provided the best set of council-
owned parking stations in Australia,”
In 1993, “motivated by ambition”
he made the move from local
government into State politics,
becoming the Member for Colton.
He describes it as “the worst
decision I ever made”.
“I spent 25 years and one month
on council and it was exciting to see
things being done,” he explains.
However, as a State MP he found
himself always comprising on things
in order to toe the party line.
“I became so disgusted at the way
the system was a trade off between
parties to get legislation through.
The parties weren’t there for the
good of the taxpayers but to raise
money for the State Government.
Continuing in our Where Are They Now? Series, LINDY
McNAMARA chats with former Lord Mayor Steve Condous
about his passion for the City of Adelaide.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
He remained an MP for eight years
and admits he “hated every day I
“You’ve got to be a person who
doesn’t care about people if you are
going to be a State parliamentarian.”
Eight years after leaving the political
stage, he continues to consider ways
his beloved city could be improved
and is not afraid to air his views.
He told the recent Lord Mayoral
candidates that an apartment and
restaurant development on the
banks of the Torrens, between the
Morphett Street bridge and the weir,
would be a fantastic addition to the
Now in his mid 70s, he keeps
himself busy acting as a consultant
to a small SA firm and still manages
to do the family’s shopping at the
Central Market every Tuesday and
“I just love talking to the people and
getting the mood of how they are
feeling about things.”
And in the New Year, he will be
forced to take things easy as he
has a hip operation scheduled – an
unfortunate part, he says, of getting
One expects it will not slow him
down for too long!
Steve’s love of the City continues
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