Between Frome Road and Kintore Avenue, a whole block of North Terrace is occupied by the University of Adelaide, and the art gallery, museum and state library. The University of Adelaide, the city’s oldest, was established in 1874 and began to admit women right from its founding – another example of South Australia’s advanced social thinking. The grounds are pleasant to stroll through: along North Terrace are Bonython Hall, built in 1936 in a vaguely medieval style, and Elder Hall, an early twentieth-century Gothic-Florentine design now occupied by the Conservatorium of Music (concerts Fri 1.10pm during term-time; $7; t08/8303 5925, whttp://www.music.adelaide.edu.au).
Overbearing Victorian busts of the upright founders of Adelaide line the strip between Bonython Hall and Kintore Avenue until you reach the Art Gallery of South Australia, established in 1881 (daily 10am–5pm; daily guided tours 11am & 2pm; lunchtime talks on exhibits Tues 12.45pm; free; t08/8207 7000, whttp://www.artgallery.sa.gov.au). The gallery has an impressive collection of Aboriginal art, including many non-traditional works with overtly political content; major works by the Western Desert school of Aboriginal artists are on permanent display in Gallery 7. There’s a fine selection of colonial art, too, and it’s interesting to trace the development of Australian art from its European-inspired beginnings up to the point where the influence of the local light, colours and landscape begin to take over. The collection of twentieth-century Australian art includes works by Sidney Nolan, Margaret Preston and Grace Cossington-Smith. There’s also a large collection of twentieth-century British art, including paintings by Roger Fry and Vanessa Bell (Virginia Woolf’s sister). The gallery has an excellent bookshop and coffee shop too.