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History of Adelaide - History

History of Adelaide - History

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(SwStr: t. 734;1. 233'0"; b. 32'1"; dr. 8'10")

Sidewheel steamer Adelaide was built in 1854 at Greenpoint Long Island N.Y., by the firm of Lupton and McDermott for Cornelius Vanderbilt who intended to send her round Cape Horn for service in the rivers and shallow coastal waters of California during the Gold Rush. However, changing business conditions caused this plan to be cancelled; and the ship was sold while she was still under construction to the Calais, Maine, Steamboat Company for which she operated as a passenger packet between l Boston and New Brunswiek, Canada.

The Baltimore Steam Packet Company purchased the vessel early in February 1859 to replace its steamer North Carolina which had caught fire at sea while en route to Norfolk, Va., on 29 January of that year and had sunk early the following morning. Adelaide arrived at Norfolk late in February and took up duty, carrying passengers between that city and Baltimore.

On 7 May 1861, after having plied the waters of the Chesapeake Bay on this run for over two years, the steamer arrived at Old Point Comfort Va., her last stop on her route south before Norfolk. She was detained there by Union naval authorities and forbidden to proceed further south since all of the southern coast in Confederate hands was under blockade.

A few days later, the Union Navy chartered the ship to serve as a transport attached to the Atlantic Blockading Squadron. She performed her most important naval service late in the summer of 1861 when she carried Union troops to Hatteras Inlet for combined operations against the forts guarding the entrance to the North Carolina sounds. This operation on 28 and 29 August enabled the Union Navy to controf these important waters, and it led ultimately to the Confederate evacuation of Norfolk, Va.

Soon thereafter, the Navy returned the ship to her owner for whom she resumed runs out of Baltimore which she continued through the end of the war and for many years thereafter. Rebuilt by William Skinner and Sons in 1871, the ship was turned over to Harlan and Hollingsworth in 1879 in partial payment for that firm's construction of the new steamer Virginia. The following year she began operating out of Long Branch, N.J. On 19 June 1880, Adelaide was rammed by the excursion boat Grand Republic and sank in New York harbor.

The History Hub, with locations in the Adelaide City Library and North Adelaide Library, has worked with a wide range of leading historical organisations and individuals to enhance the community’s connection with the City’s past and present.

History Hub programs and resources have enlightened the community with amazing exhibitions, online tours, assistance with research projects, interactive presentations, one-on-one training and more. Find out more about what the History Hub can offer you!

The History Hub includes the Adelaide Picture Collection which offers thousands of photographs of Adelaide’s surrounds including the city centre, North Adelaide and the Park Lands dating from the mid-19th Century. You can also access free history research resources including Trove and Ancestry Library Edition.

Community Created Collection

The Adelaide City History Hub celebrates our living history in our Community Created Collection. This Collection captures photos, artworks and stories from community contributors. It is a living record of our present shared with generations to come. View online.

Remembering My Streets

Remembering My Streets is aimed at capturing research and community stories exploring different aspects of Adelaide’s local history. Every three months a team of history volunteers and staff explore a new theme and a Discussion Group meet to hear the findings and share their stories. Book into our upcoming discussion groups.

Discover work captured on past themes including the Beatles visit in 1964, the historic Adelaide City Baths and the Adelaide Grand Prix. View online.

Share your stories and help us capture the true spirit and atmosphere of our local history.

Safeguard Your Snaps

Archive and protect your precious photos and important documents with the help of our friendly History Hub volunteers.

Scanners available at City Library include Brother (ADS-16000w) Scanner and Epson Perfection V850 Pro Scanner

Scanners available at the North Adelaide Library and Community Centre include the Epson Perfection V550 and the Plustek OpticPro A320 Graphic Scanner

Scanners can be used independently or for a one-on-one training session. Book now.

Family History Research One-on-one

Are you working on a history project and want to learn how to find reliable information? Are you interested in unravelling your family history or curious about a historic Adelaide landmark? The Adelaide City Library's History Hub is now offering one-on-one sessions to help you bring your history project to life!

Sessions can be tailored to fit your individual interests, needs, and computing level. Learn how to use the Adelaide Picture Collection, Trove and Ancestry Library Editions. Book now.

Your A-Z guide of the history behind Adelaide’s suburbs

WHEN you give someone your address, you’re telling them a lot more about where you live than you realise.

Flinders Park, for example, was named after explorer Matthew Flinders, and many of the streets within the suburb are named after early explorers.

Munno Para, meanwhile, was taken from an aboriginal word meaning “golden wattle creek” while Blackwood was named after dark-barked blackwood or peppermint gum trees that grew there.

Author of Behind the Streets of Adelaide, Dr Jeff Nicholas said suburbs, much like street names, generally provide a snapshot of an area’s history, who settled there, how people lived and what it used to look like.

“The original streets of Adelaide were virtually named three weeks after Colonel William Light surveyed the city,” he said.

“He set up the Street Naming Committee which decided on 58 names and that’s how they were named.”

Dr Nicholas said, settlers were then encouraged to purchase at least one acre out of town which were then considered as rural landholdings.

“These landholding later became suburbs as the city grew and main street were set up.

“As for the naming of these suburbs, they usually referred back to the original owners.”

But as Adelaide continued to grow and boundaries were changed, the city of churches lost a number of good suburb names.

Kilburn residents, for example, used to live in Little Chicago, while Morphett Vale was once known as Emu Downs and Rosewater once bore the name of a famous bear, Paddington.

And Slapes Gully doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as Burnside.

Other German-sounding names were also changed during World War I because of anti-German sentiment.


German Christian Sauerbier owned land near Happy Valley. His son, John Chris Sauerbier changed his name to Aberfoyle after an area in Perthshire, Scotland, during WWI.

Named after Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, queen consort to King William IV, and founded in 1836 as the planned capital.

First established in 1955, a dual international/domestic terminal was opened in 2005.

Named for Prince Albert, Albert Park was laid out in 1877 by a W.R. Cave.

A corruption of the original name Albert Town, named in 1847 by Angas, Kingscote & Todd of the SA Company.

Claimed to be a corruption of an Aboriginal word meaning ‘much water’. Others claim it means ‘good place for meat’, ‘open, wide plain’ or ‘tree district’.

Field Mashal Lord Allenby led an army in Palestine during World War I.

Named after early property holders in the area.

Named in the 1950s by SA Housing Trust.

Angle Vale was named to describe the area – with an angled road cutting through it.

Angle Vale Post Office opened on 1 October 1866

Named after the English racecourse in 1914.

Laid out by Charles J. Everard in 1909, the name comes from Kent, England.

Thomas Shepherd called the land Athelstone Estate. He died in Edinburgh, ten years later, 20 miles from the village of Athelstaneford.

Name probably taken from Athol Farm, a property that once occupied the area. Athol is a district of Perth, Scotland.

It stands on the site of a once-famous vineyard “Auldana” established by Patrick Auld.

Named by Fairview Park Shopping Centre Pty Ltd in 1967 after the native Australian plant.

Samuel Davenport named an existing property after the French town Beaumont which means beautiful mount.

Historical image of Adelaide Town Hall on King William Street circa 1900-1910.

Edwin Joseph Hancock built a homestead in the area, naming it Bedford after family connections in earlier generations with the Bedford family in England.

Name proposed by May and Margaret Mills in 1965 but was initially refused because it was believed it would cause confusion with the existing Bellevue at McLaren Vale.

Originally called Rosaville, Beulah Estate was laid out in 1912 and later extended as Beulah Park. Beulah Rd originally led to the village of Beulah, named after a village in Wales.

Named by Edward Stephens in 1850, possibly named after a town in Yorkshire, England.

Named by Thomas Elder and John Hart in 1864, possibly named after a Birkinhead in Cheshire, England.

Named after a dark forest that used to occupy the area and was frequented by bush rangers and cattle thieves.

Robert Burfield was granted a publicans licence in 1869 for the Blackwood Inn (now The Belair Hotel). The name Blackwood was apparently derived from the dark barked blackwood or peppermint gum trees.

Celtic for a plain cleared of trees, and takes its name from the home of the Magarey family.

Blakeview is named after Joseph Blake, an early blacksmith in the area.

The hotel was built by Mr. Walpole, who arrived on the ship “Bolivar” in 1850.

The Village of Bowden was created around 1842 by Sir J.H. Fisher and named after his native town in Northamptonshire, England.

Name taken from a village in Durham, England.

Named after the trotting horse stud run by Frank Reiss who first sold the land in 1960.

Named by Matthew Smith, solicitor, in 1839 after the seaside resort town in Sussex or New Brighton in Liverpool. The suburb’s main industries in the 1840s were whaling and smuggling.

Originally a private subdivision laid out by C H Angas & K D Bowman in 1915. Later housing developments obstructed the panoramic views.

Name comes from Yorkshire, England where settler William Paxton was born.

The adjacent suburb of Brooklyn was created by Oscar Gorger and Edward Lipsett in 1881 and probably named after the American city.

Named after an early property in the area established by Messrs William Allen and John Ellis.

Possibly named by Peter Anderson who called his property near Second Creek Burnside.

A small Methodist church in the area was known as Burton. The first licensee of the ‘Bolivar Hotel’ came from ‘Burton Latimer’ in Northamptonshire, England, and the second licensee was H.W. Burton.

Campden Estate was created by Florence M, Mackenzie of Campden in 1914.

Campbell bought the land from S.G. Smith in 1842 and subdivided about 1846.

Corporal Young, Royal Sappers and Miners refers to the gully in a survey book as Paddy Carey’s Gully, though Patrick ‘Paddy’ Carey never owned land there.

Takes its name from the Hotel ‘The Cavan Arms’, licensed in 1855 by R.B Colley who was born in County Cavan, Ireland.

Named after shepherd Charles Chandler, who resided at Unbunga and came to South Australia in the John Pirie in 1836.

Native town of John Denham. Cheltenham is a town in Gloucester.

Named after the abundance of native cherry trees that used to exist in the area.

Lambert F.B. Christie purchased the land in 1858 and his wife Rosa Christie was the landowner when the land was subdivided in 1924/25.

The town shares the same name as Clapham Junction, which was named after the suburban London railway station of the same name.

Clarencefield is a town in Dumfries, Scotland which the original owners, the Macklin family, may have been connected to.

Clarendon occurs in Canada, Jamaica and the USA – all believed to have been named after the aristocratic English family. There is a Clarendon Park in Wiltshire, England.

John Martin & Co. Ltd., Rundle Street, Adelaide. Undated historical image of pedestrians and horse-drawn buggies outside John Martin’s.

Clearview was laid out by Clearview Ltd in 1922 and named because the suburb offered views of the Adelaide plains and the River Torrens.

Named after the town of Clovelly in Devon, England by Messrs R., D.M. and P. Mitchell, in 1928, as executers of Richard Mitchell.

On account of its proximity to St. Peters College and named by Henry S. Anthony and William Dixon in 1874.

May have been named after his George F. Angas’ daughter-in law Suzanne Collins.


Named by Charles C Reade in 1915. Unimpressed with Adelaide’s haphazard development, he wanted to create a model suburb with allocation for schools, recreation areas and public buildings. If you have to ask who it was named after, you probably aren’t from around here …

Subdivision undertaken by L. Simon, F.A. Oehm and L. Belling in 1877, when part of it was sold to the government for education purposes. Concordia School opened in 1861 and Concordia is the Roman Goddess of Peace and Harmony.

The ship Coromandel arrived at Port Adelaide on 12 January 1837, when ten of the crew deserted and found refuge in a valley in the Mount Lofty Range.

Named by Edwin C. Gwynne in 1840. Possibly a reference to the aboriginal word kaunenna-dlla, meaning ‘the locality of the waters’ specifically relating to the Glenelg area.

The suburb began when part of Minda Home’s Craigburn Farm was subdivided in the late 1990s.

Craigmore is named after an early homestead in the district.

Means ‘chalk hill’. Named by owner Philip Levi who was born in Surrey, England – that country has a Croydon.

Contains an original subdivision named Cumberland by Ernest T. Saunders and Edwin Ashby in 1913. The name comes from Wales and means compatriots or fellow countrymen.

Named by Flagstaff Inn licensed victualler Samuel Lewis after the town in Durham, England.

Named after a pioneering family in the district in 1983.

J.W. Daw owned land adjacent to South Road.

A subdivision by Richard Arthur Hobby in 1923 which takes its name from a town in France which was the scene of World War 1 battles. A Private L. R. Hobby served in the 27th Battalion.

Laid out by Lavinia and George Charles Braund in 1920 and named after the English town.

An English name given to a post office and telephone exchange near Clarendon, circa 1850. Its local name was ‘Scotts Bottom’.

The name has English origins.

Earl of Dudley was Governor-General of the Commonwealth 1908-1911.

Named in 1854 by John Hector and named after a town in Surrey, England.

Named after a stone eagle kept at the hotel on the hill. The hotel was built in 1853, opening as Andersons Inn, but soon renamed to accompany the nearby “Eagle’s Nest” residence. Unlike the rest of the hotel the stone eagle survived the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires.

The suburb lies east of Parkside and was densely forested at the time of naming.

It was either named by E. Ashby being a description of the areas natural beauty or named by William Datmar Cook who was at one time the Master of the sailing barque “Eden”.

Named after the Duke of Edinburgh.

Lawyer William Edwards laid out the town in 1838 and named it Edwardstown.

Named after Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II in 1955.

Historical image of the SA Fire Brigade on Wakefield Street, Adelaide late 1800’s. (SA Government photo)

Named by George Hickox in 1843 after his birthplace in Middlesex, England.

A house of the same name was built in the area around 1850. Erin is of Irish origin.

Named by Doctor Phillips after one of his 6 daughters who died a young girl.

Henry Goss bought a subdivision in 1861 and built ‘Evandale House’ on it. The home was sold by the mortgagee in 1885.

Named in 1850 by James Philcox. Origin unknown.

Dr Charles D. Everard farmed land in the Unley District from 1838 til he died in 1876.

There is an Exeter in Devonshire and an Exeter Hall in London. The resolution to form an association for the colonisation of SA was carried here.

A descriptive name by B.E. and E.F.J. Chandler in 1967. Lt-Colonel Freeling once owned a property called Fairview near Walkerville.

Native village of Rev T.Q. Stow, original land owner in area.

Subdivision named in 1924 by William Duthie, formerly of Forfar, Scotland, where there is a Ferryden.

G. L. Liptrott was the owner of the land circa 1855, and came from Worthing, near Findon in Surrey, England.

Named after Edward Castres Gwynne, who was born at Lewes in Sussex, England, near the towns of Firle and Glynde. His father was the Rector of Glynde.

It was either named by William E Churcher in 1882 after the Melbourne suburb or after an electoral district in England.

It is named after the hill in the area where Colonel William Light erected a flagstaff during his survey.

The suburb is named after explorer Matthew Flinders, with many of its streets bearing the names of famous explorers.

The suburb is near Black Forest and was named by Andrew Ferguson in 1917.

Named after an early settler James Frew who bought it in 1847 and subdivided in 1865.

Originally owned by John White in 1836 and named Fulham Farm. He built his home from bricks brought over from England and the roof was thatched from local reeds.

Named by James Frew in 1849 whose wife was the former Jane Fullarton.

Isaac Gepp opened the Windmill Inn in the area after arriving on the Fairlie in 1840.

Joseph Gilbert of Pewsey Vale England purchased the property from Richard Blundell in 1839 after he was declared bankrupt and named it Gilbert Town.

Osmond Gilles, first Colonial Treasurer, held land in the area.

Named after a former general traffic manager for South Australian Railways in 1950 when laid out by Rosewater Extension Limited.

Taken from County Cork in Ireland, where one of the original settlers, John O’Dea, came from.

Named after Glanville Hall, the original residence of Capt. John Hart Chief Secretary and Treasurer. It was named after Hart’s mother’s maiden name.

Sherwood Estates Limited named it after ‘a valley near a hill’ in 1961.

Named after Lord Glenelg, the secretary of state when the colony was founded in 1836. Town laid out in 1839. Known to the aborigines as Patawilya (cloggy green place) or Kaunennadla (place of waters).

Means ‘Glen of Gowrie’, in honour of Lord Gowrie (formerly, Alexander Gore Arkwright Hore-Ruthven), Governor-General of Australia from 1936-1944.

Osmond Gilles was the first Colonial Treasurer & landowner in the area.

Portion formerly known as Knoxville.

Named by Charles T Hargrave in 1882. ‘Glen’ because of its closeness to Glen Osmond and ‘unga’ which is aboriginal for ‘near to’.

Created in 1998 by renaming that portion of Bolivar involved with the horses and Globe Derby Park.

Edward Castres Gwynne built a cottage at Payneham called Glynde Place and laid out the suburb in 1856.

Captain Adam Robertson, of the ship the Golden Grove, settled here in 1846.

Named after the seat of the Duke of Richmond in Chichester, England.

Originally an estate named as ‘The Grange’ built by Charles Sturt.

A descriptive name by owner Christoph Samuel Mueller in 1919.

A descriptive name for the colour of the winter landscape, named by Hayborough Limited in 1954.

Greenwith Methodist Church built in 1866. The suburb was named in 1977.

Either named by Edward Castle, who sold the town, after his home in England, or previous land owner James Kingsdon, or named after JB Hack who lived in the area in 1837.

The ‘Village of Hackney was created in 1847 and was named after Hackney in London.

John Hallett discovered the cove while looking for missing stock in 1837.

Named after the town in London, England.

A descriptive name by Edward Burgess, who landed at Holdfast Bay and was at the first Methodist service on mainland South Australia in 1837.

A common place name in England. The suburb was named by Edward Thornber and David Garlick in 1880.

Taken from a line in Sir Walter Scott’s poem The Lay of the Last Minstrel: ‘and seen from cavern’d Hawthornden’ by the Austin family.

Francis Clark bought a property on Greenhill Rd in 1850 and named it Hazelwood after Hazelwood School in Birmingham.

Named by the father of George Reed after his native town in Northumberland, England.

Named by Partick Boyce Coglin after the first full time officer for the Savings Bank of SA, John Hector.

Named by Captain Henry John Butler who established an aerodrome there, and named the suburb after an English airport.

Name adapted from Henley-on-Thames in England and named by Arthur Harvey, Henry S. Anthony and William P. icksteed in 1877.

Named after Highbury in north London, England.

Named by F.J. Botting, who laid out the area in 1881, after his birthplace in London.

Hillbank was previously known as Elizabeth Heights, and is a descriptive name.

Named after Matthew Hill QC, the original land owner.

Named after South Australia’s first Governor, John Hindmarsh. It was the first private town laid out in the colony.

Corruption of the name of Robert Haldon, an original landowner in the area.

Named by William Holden, a butcher and storekeeper in 1842. His store burnt down but he said he felt “inspired by hope”, hence the name. He later left the area when his wife was killed in an accident in 1851.

Named after Hove near Brighton, England.

The Hunt family were landowners in the area, and served in many capacities in the local community.

Named after Hyde Park in London, England.

Name taken from a farm that was located on the land. It was named by Jabez Rowe because he had married a Miss Wright, who was from Inglewood.

Land originally purchased by Firmin Deacon, who built a pub on the land and named it ‘Inglewood’. The name comes from Yorkshire, England.

Named because iron was mined in the area in the 1850s.

Named after Henry Joslin, a director of the South Australian Company.

A corruption of the native word ‘Kangooarinilla’, meaning ‘where the sheep mother sits down’.

Named by Charles Catchlove after Kensington, near London.

See Kensington. Originally known as Pile’s Paddock.

Named after Dr Benjamin Archer Kent, the first occupier of the area.

Named by John Bowden after his birthplace in Cornwall, England.

Named after Keswick in Cumberland, England.

Named after Sir Sydney Kidman, who was known as the ‘cattle king’.

Originally known as Chicago, but this title was never officially recognised in the Land Titles Office. Kilburn is named after a suburb of London.

Named after Kilkenny in Ireland.

Believed to commemorate King Edward VII.

Named after George Strickland Kingston, who owned the land.

Possibly named after Stuart King, a member of John McD Stuart’s expedition of 1861-1862, or the Kingswood in Gloucestershire, England.

Named after a north German town, it was changed in 1916 to Gaza, a World War I battlefield at the time, and was reverted back in 1935. The native name for the area was Warkowodli-Wodli.

Kurralta is the native word for ‘on the hill’ or ‘up there’.

Named after Largs on the Firth of Clyde in Scotland.

Named after a town in England.

Name comes from Devon, England, and was applied by the original owner o fthe land, Margaret Gorton, who arrived on the Buffalo in 1836.

The name comes from “Linden”, the name of a property in the suburb. Linden is a Bavarian name, made famous in the poem Hohenlinden by Campbell.

Named after Lockleys in Hertfordshire, England.

Named by an earlier settler, W. Colley, who was born in Longwood in Yorkshire.

Named after an adjacent railway station, the origin of its name is not known.

Believed to be named after Lynton in Devon, England.

Created by MacDonald Reid Pty Ltd.

It was either named in 1837 after David McLaren, the commercial manager of the SA Company, or named after J.W. McLaren, a surveyor.

Surveyed in 1838 and originally laid out as Makgill, and was bought from the government by Messrs Robert Cock and William Ferguson in 1838. Named after Sir Maitland Makgill, who was the trustee for Mr Cock’s wife at the time of their departure from Scotland. The reason as to why the ‘k’ was dropped is unknown.

Named after Malvern in Worcestershire.

Named after Manninghima in Yorkshire, England.

Name taken from Mansfield, a town in Ayrshire, Scotland.

Laid out by Joseph Gilbert around 1848, who came from Marden in Whiltshire, England.

One of the earliest recorded names in South Austrlia. The name comes from the Italian spelling of “marine”.

Named after Miss Marion (or Marianne) Fisher, daughter of Sir J.H. Fisher, first resident commissioner.

Land originally owned by John Marles, who subdivided it in 1879.

The name comes from the maiden name of Governor Sir Henry Young’s wife, Augusta Sophia Marryat, who was the daughter of Charles Marryat of Park Field, Potter’s Bar, Middlesex, a niece of the novelist Captain F. Marrat RN, and a sister of Charles Marrat, Dean of Adelaide.

Originally owned by George Maslin, who bought the land in 1849 for 240 pounds.

Laid out by William Wadham and named after his second wife, Emma Josephine May.

A native word, of which the original meaning in unknown. First spelt “Medindi”.

Named after the aviator Jimmy Melrose, who competed in the 1934 England to Australia Air Race.

Laid out by the South Australian Company in 1880 and named because it is a mile from Adelaide city.

Named after George Mills, of Hills, Mills & Co. who owned the land.

Named after Mitcham in Surrey, England.

Named after Richard Mitchell, who subdivided the land in 1912.

Named after the Maori word for “blue water”.

Named by R.S. Kelly in 1840 after his native town in Devonshore.


Believed to be named after Montacute in Somerset, England.

Native word meaning “ever flowing”.

Named after Sir John Morphett, a prominent early settler, who arrived in South Australia on board the Cygnet in 1836.

Named by Captain Charles Sturt after his friend, Captain Collet Barker, who died at the Murray Mouth on April 30, 1831.


Named after Osmind Gilles, the first Colonial Treasurer.

Taken from a native word meaning “golden wattle creek”.

Named by William Sanders, who bought a property and built a home on the land, which he named Myrtle Bank. His friend James Gall owned a property of the same name in Trinity, Edinburgh.

Once covered by a forest of native pines, the area was first named Pine Forest. Enoch Fry, a farmer in the area, who named it after Nailsworth in England.

Named after Netherby in Yorkshire, Cumberland.

Named by Thomas Hudson Beare, who owned the land, after the ruins of Netley Abbey in Hampshire.

Named by the developers of the land, who originally requested to create a new suburb called Newport Quays but this name was not supported.

In the 1850s the road to Woodforde was known as “Road to New Town”, which became “Newton Rd”, which eventually became the area’s name. Newton is also a common place name in England.

A native name meaning “the place with the hill”.

A descriptive name, and the name also appears in three English counties.

Suburb created by renaming a portion of Northfield in June 2000, following a request by builder/developer A.V. Jennings.

Name taken from the North Haven Indenture Act, which created the suburb. Creation of the suburb was originally opposed by the Post Master General due to its size the fact there was another North Haven in Australia.

Named after Norwood, near London, England.

Originally laid out as Morphettville by the State Bank of Australia in 1921. The name was changed to honour Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson, 1st Viscount Novar, who was the Governor-general of Australia from 1914 until 1920.

Named after John Oakden, who explored west of Lake Torrens in 1851.

Originally laid out as Oaklands Estate, named after the English oaks that were planted on the property by the original owner, the Hon. J. Crozier.

Major O’Halloran was the commissioner of police and police magistrate in 1838.

The name Uley and One Tree Hill appear to have been used since the early 1850s to designate two separate portions of the area now known generally as One Tree Hill.

A native name, originally spelt ‘Unkaparinga’, meaning ‘Mother river, plentiful’, and first given to Onkaparinga River.

Captain Osborne was an early resident and well known Port Adelaide mariner, who built the first house in the area.

Possibly named after an early settler in the district.

Land originally owned by Thomas Ottaway. The origin of the misspelling is unknown.

A descriptive name for a harbour further out than Port Adelaide.

Named after Ovingham in england.

A descriptive name given because of the view of the plains and gulf from the area.

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Joseph Ind, who arrived in South Australia in 1837, named the land after his old farm in Gloucestershire, UK.

Name taken from the native name “para”, meaning “river or creek”, and the English “field”.

Name taken from the native name “para”, meaning “river or creek”, and “Hills” to describe the area.

Name taken from the native name “para”, meaning “river or creek”, and “lowie” meaning water. It is also the name of a very old farmhouse in the area.

Name taken from the native name “para”, meaning “river or creek”, and “vista” being descriptive.

A descriptive name meaning “a flat, park-like area near a river”.

Named because it was next to the parklands that surround Adelaide.

Possibly named after Pasadena in California, USA. Pasadena was adopted in 1967 after residents opposed the proposed name Centennial Park.

Named after Samuel Payne, who was the original landowner.

Penfield is named after William Penfield, an early resident in the area.

Named after one of the three Pennington’s in England.

Named after Peterhead in Aberdeen, Scotland.

The exact origin is unknown, but one theory is that during the 1930s depression the area was used as a camping ground by unemployed people, who were known to consume a cheap wine called “pinky”.

The pioneer John Crews named his farm Plympton after his birthplace in Devonshire.

A native name meaning “dry waterhole”.

Named by Colonel William Light as the port of Adelaide.

Named due to the prospect the locality presented, with its views over the plains and the parklands.

Named in honour of Queen Victoria in 1848.

Named by Realty Building Co. in 1964 with no origin known.

Named after Samuel Reeves, who came across the plain when looking for land for the South Australian Company.

Name taken from the adjacent Regency Rd, which was adopted after the first visit by Queen Elizabeth II to South Australia.

Named in 1920 shortly after the H.M.S. Renown brought the Prince of Wales to Australia.

John Reynell laid out the town in 1854, and is recorded as planting the first vineyard and making the first wine in South Australia.

Named after a town in Surrey, England.

A descriptive name for the subdivision where the homes were to be situated on high areas.

Named after John Ridley, who was the inventor of the Ridley Stripper, an agricultural machine.

Named by Mr A. B. Cashmore after Risdon Cove in Tasmania, which was named by John Hayes in 1794 after a Devonshire family.

Named in 1878 by Sir John Rose, G.C.M.G., who was the Chairman of the S.A. Company. Sir Rose named it after himself even though “Prescott”, an early lessee of the sections was submitted to him as a possible name.

Named by Phillip Levi, who owned the area, to offset the smell of stagnant water from a nearby swamp.

A Scottish name for a subdivision made in 1878. There is an Earl of Rosslyn, which is a combination of the two Celtic words ‘ros’, meaning ‘promontory’, and ‘lynn’, meaning deep pool. Roslin Castle was also the original home of the Scottish noble family.

Named after Rostrevor in County Down, Northern Ireland.

Named by T.J. Matters, the land agent who subdivided the area. It was originally known as ‘Piggery Park’, because of the pig farms and abattoirs that were once there.

Named by land agent Stephen Parsons, whose wife went to school in Royston in Yorkshire, England.

Laid out and named by John Harvey after Salisbury in Wiltshire, England.

Named after Seacombe in Cheshire, England.

Probably named after Seaford in East Essex, England.

Probably named by Gifford Tate after Seaton in Devon, England.

Descriptive name for the views to the sea.

Named after a railway station in Lancashire, England.

Named after William Sellick, an early settler.

Named because the site was chosen for a signal station and landing place in preference to Glenelg in 1837, a year after the colony was founded.

Named after the Sheidow family.

Created by Skye Estate Ltd.

Named after John Smith, an early landowner in the area and built the Smithfield Hotel in the 1850s.

Named after Somerton in Somerset, England.

Named after Springfield in Surrey, England.

Named by George Muller after Stepney in London, England.

Name means “a rocky hill”, named by Annie Montgomery Martin.

Named after the explorer Charles Sturt.

Named after the English county.

Named on 5 November 1959 after the products of Angoves Pty Ltd, vignerons and distillers. Dr Angove settled in the area in the early 1880s and St Anges is the patron saint of purity.

The name was chosen to reflect the history of the area. St Clair was first used by Robert R Torrens for his home, built circa 1842. After twelve years the property was sold and a second grander home name St Clair was built by Mr Stoddard R Clarke in 1850 adjacent the current Woodville Road. This home remained until the mid 1900s when it was demolished but the use of ‘St Clair’ has been retained in the area through the recreation oval and the St Clair Youth Centre.

Named after a competition operated in 1918 by Horace Allen and Barton, land estate agents of Unley. After 400 entries, H.E. Lewis of Malvern’s suggestion was chosen.

Named after the island of St Kilda, off the Scottish Coast.

Named by the father of John Wickham Daw, who owned the land and helped to establish the Church of St Mary’s.

Laid out by Henry Woodock about 1880 and named after his wife, who married twice. Her maiden name was Morris and her first married name was Saint.

The subdivision of St Peters was created by Joseph Jackman in 1884 and took its name from the adjacent college.

Named after the English county.

A native word meaning “calm”.

A descriptive name of trees that grew in the area.

Baron Tennyson was Governor of South Australia from 1899 to 1902, and second Governor-general of Australia. He was also the son of Poet Laureate Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

An early homestead in the district was called Teringie.

Name of the house was taken from Colonel Light’s English home – Theberton Hall. Thebarton was the first village laid out outside of the City of Adelaide. The current spelling with a central “a” is believed to have come about through a typographic error.

Named after William Battye Thorngate, the proprietor of Thorngate Estate in South Australia.

Toorak is a native word meaning “swamps, springs”.

The River Torrens was named by Colonel Light in 1936 in honour of Colonel Robert Torrens, Chairman of the South Australian Colonization Commissioners, and father of Sir Robert Richard Torrens, author of the Real Property Act.

Named in 1838. The house was named after a place near Birkenhead, Liverpool, England.

A subdivision of glebe land owned by the Holy Trinity Church.

Possibly named after an early settler in the district.

Named by William Rogers, pastoralist in 1839.

Laid out and named by John Symonds Williams in the early 1850s, with no reason known for the choice of name.

Undley Hall or Parish is located in the parishes of Mildenhall and Lakenheath in Suffolk, Whistler’s home County. Was originally thought to have been named after his wife’s maiden name.

Named by Thomas Williams, one of the largest shareholders in the South Australian Company, after Hermitage in Northampton, England.

Named after Captain Charles Sturt.

Urrbrae is Scottish for “our valley”. It may also have been named by Robert Forsyth MacGeorge after his Scottish hometown Urr, and “brae”, Scottish for the side of a hill.

Vale House was the home of Phillip Levi, a pastoral pioneer.

Descriptive name given by a subdivision by Pleasent Hills Estate in 1960.

Named by Captain Walker, R.N. in 1838.

Named by Dept. of Environment and Planning.

Taken from the native word “warra”, meaning timber, and “dale”, meaning valley.

A descriptive name due to the waterfall located in the area.

Believed to be named after the Battle of Waterloo.

A descriptive name of the area which was once densely covered with wattle trees.

Named after Way College, which was erected in memory of Reverent J. Way, father of Sir Samuel Way.

Named after Welland in Northampton, England.

A descriptive name for a beach west of Adelaide.

Name established by the West Lakes Development Act in 1969 to describe a man-made lake west of the city.

Westbourne is a well-known London name.

Willaunga means place of green trees.

Named after Windsor in England, named by Nathaniel Hailes in 1849.

Richard William Wingfield was the private secretary to Governor Jervois. Subsequently used as a suburb name.

Proclaimed in 1985, takes it name from the Early Day Woodcroft Farm.

Named after Dr John Woodforde, who came to South Australia on Rapid with Colonel William Light.

Woodville is a descriptive name of the well-timbered locality.

Possibly named after an early settler in the district.

Yatala was the name applied by the Weera tribe of Aborigines to the country north of the Torrens, from Port Adelaide to Tea Tree Gully.

Information here is taken from the Dept of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure Gazetter, The Romance of Place Names of South Australia by Geoffrey H Manning, Place Names of South Australia by R Praite and JC Tolley and What’s in a Name? Nomenclature of South Australia by Rodney Cockburn. Every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of this list, however, there are varying accounts of the history of some suburbs.

The People

On the 28th of December 1838 the 344 tonne ship Zebra carrying 187 German Lutheran immigrants (38 families) arrived in Port Adelaide. The ship’s passengers were unfortunately unable to disembark the ship until the 2nd of January 1839 due to low tide. The ships captain Dirk Hahn, a Dane, had grown to respect the passengers and promised to help them achieve their goal of settling and farming together. He was able to negotiate a parcel of land in the Adelaide Hills(3).

The negotiated contract provided the families with 100 acres of land rent free for the first year. Of this 19 acres were allocated for housing and roads and the remainder for cultivation. In addition the settlers were also provided with a years’ provision of seeds and some livestock, all on credit as a communal debt. The settlers resolved to buy the land at the end of the first year however it took them a few years to completely discharge the debt(3). I n addition to the 38 families that arrived on the “Zebra” an extra 14 families who had previously settled at Klemzig joined the settlement. The names of the 52 pioneer families are inscribed on the gates of the Pioneer Memorial gardens in Hahndorf. The new settlement was named Hahndorf (Hahn’s village) in honour of Captain Hahn who had assisted the refugees to achieve their goal. A bust of Captain Hahn has been erected in the Pioneer Memorial Gardens in Hahndorf.

Historic city hotel records

Adelaide has long been referred to as the City of Churches, but its occupants weren't exactly teetotallers, with a multitude of hotels across the city and North Adelaide.

This guide has been prepared by the knowledgeable staff at the City Archives office to assist researchers working on the history of hotels within the area. It shows the main series of records which may be of use to researchers however it should be noted that this guide is not exhaustive. There may well be other records, accessioned and unaccessioned, held in Archives which contain relevant information.

Building application plans

The Building Application Plans may be of major interest to anyone researching the history of the city's hotels.

Before 1882 the inspection of all new buildings was performed by the City Surveyor under By Law No. 26 (1863). No plans were required to be approved by Council prior to the construction work taking place.

Following the passage of the Building Act in 1881, Council was required to approve plans of building work in the city but did not have to keep a copy of them. The building plans were submitted to Council and then returned to the owner.

The registers of city building plans submitted for approval during the period 1881 to 1924 can be accessed below.

Reference: Adelaide City Archives. Building Surveyor’s Department (Cl1) Register of Plans Submitted to Council and Local Board of Health 1882 -1923 Record Series S .

In 1924 a new Building Act mandated that Council had to keep copies of plans of building work in the city, including alterations and additions, submitted for approval. This included applications construct or change hotels.

The majority of these plans still exist, with those that are missing primarily from the early years. Apart from plans and specifications of new building work, the series also contains plans of alterations and additions to existing buildings and of demolition work.

The Building Application Plans for 1924 to 1956 can be researched via the list below.

Reference: Adelaide City Archives. Building Application Plans, 1924 - . Department of Building Surveying (Cll) Record Series Sl7.

Please note: Access to plans of hotels which are still standing can only be granted once the consent of the owner of the building has been obtained.

Building Surveyor's reports

A Building Surveyor was first appointed by the Council in 1883, to check designs and drawing for building work and to carry out inspections at building construction sites. It was also part of his duties to ensure that public buildings such as hotels, had adequate means of ventilation and fire escape.

The fortnightly reports of the Building Surveyor are held among the Town Clerk's Department Dockets and may be located using the appropriate Indexes and Registers.

Reference: Adelaide City Archives. Town Clerk's Department (Cl5) Town Clerk's Dockets. Record Series S3.

From 1901, the Building Surveyor's Annual Report was printed and included as part of the Council’s Annual Report. It contained references to major building work in the city together with a list of those buildings which had been demolished during the municipal year. Copies of the Annual Reports are available for viewing in the Reference and Guide Room.

Reference: Adelaide City Archives. Town Clerk's Department (Cl5) Annual Reports, 1901-67. Record Series S21.

City Valuer's Plans

There are six volumes known as Plans of Acres Books which appear to have been created about 1865-68 by the City Valuer for the purpose of rate assessment.

They show the layout and dimension of properties and the names of occupiers on each Part Town Acre within the city, and generally include the names of public buildings and some hotels. There is one book for each Ward of the city and one page for each Town Acre.

Reference: Adelaide City Archives. City Treasurer's Department (C5) "Plans of Acres" Books. Record Series S36.

Another useful series of records created by the City Valuer are the City Valuers Plans 1924-36, which contain some detailed plans of several city hotels (namely the Buck's Head, Exchange, John Bull, Thistle, Southern Cross, Sturt Arcade, Aurora, and Star and Garter Hotels).

Reference: Adelaide City Archives. City Treasurer's Department (C5) City Valuer's Plans 1924-36. Record Series S, Accession 168.

Please note: The City Valuer’s Plans will need to be requested and retrieved by the Archives team and made available to look at in the Search Room. You can do this by phone, email or by completing a records request form at the Archives Office.

Council Digest of Proceedings

The Digest of Proceedings date from the municipal year 1871 to 72 and are records of the business of the City Council. They contain minutes of Council and Local Board of Health meetings, as well as reports of the various Committees of Council.

From the 1880s they also provide references to the Town Clerk's Department Docket and File numbers relating to matters dealt with by Council, which included the city’s many hotels.

The Digests are printed and bound and indexed from 1891 by subject and Town Acre numbers. Indexes for earlier volumes (1871-80) have been prepared by Archives staff, while some original handwritten indexes also exist for some years before 1891.

The Town Acre index can be particularly helpful when researching the history of buildings in the city, as it can be used to identify the use of buildings and any significant alterations made to them over the years, as well as any Council orders which may have been served on their owners (usually for breaches of the sanitary regulations).

The Digests may be examined in the Reference and Guide Room at the Archives.

Reference: Adelaide City Archives. Town Clerk's. Department (Cl5) Digest of Proceedings, 1871- Record Series S35

Inspectors reports

The Reports of the Inspectors of Nuisances, which date from 1849, are a valuable source of information about Adelaide's early hotels. It was the Inspectors' role "to perambulate the city from daylight to dark to take notice of any nuisance existing upon premises which are or may prove detrimental to the health of the citizens". Not surprisingly, the many inns and taverns which dotted the city during its early years were a constant source of complaint and accordingly were subjected to intense scrutiny by the Inspectors.

The Inspectors of Nuisances were required to submit fortnightly reports in writing to the Town Clerk specifying the nature of nuisances and the measures taken towards their abatement. Many of these reports have survived and are among the earliest records of the Corporation held by Archives.

A typescript guide to these early records has been prepared as a separate finding aid and can be viewed on our website index to the Earliest Corporation records.

A hard copy of this guide is also available in the Reference and Guide Room. Requests to examine selected items may be made on the appropriate form.

Reference: Adelaide City Archives. Inspector of Nuisances' Reports 1849-c.1866. Earliest Corporation Records. Record Series S .

During the 1860s, the Inspector of Nuisances became known as the Sanitary Inspectors and later, around the turn of the century, as Health Inspectors.

These officers were responsible for enforcing the provisions of the Public Health Acts (1872 and 1898) and any related Council By-Laws and Regulations. They also administered parts of the Common Lodging House Act (1881), the Sale of Food and Drugs Act (1882), and the Places of Public Entertainment Act (1882), all of which had implications for the way in which hotels were managed.

The Inspectors reports can therefore throw much light on the social and sanitary conditions of many of Adelaide's hotels. The reports are part of the main series of Town Clerk's Department Dockets and may be identified through the related controlling Indexes and Registers.

Reference: Adelaide City Archives. Town Clerk s Department (Cl5) Town Clerk s Dockets. Record Series S3.

Other records created and maintained by the Inspectors which may contain relevant information include a Nuisance Complaint Book, 1854-84 (Accession 620) and Notices of Abatement of Nuisances, 1881-85 (Accession 622).


There are five main photo collections held by the City of Adelaide Archives that may be searched to locate images of the city’s hotels, either still standing and long gone.

  • The Historical Picture Collection, featuring about 1800 images, gathered together by the former Commercial Department during the 1970s. Accession 5531
  • The Lantern Slide Collection, containing several hundred glass lantern slides originally assembled by Town Clerk AJ Morison in the 1920s and 30s, showing views of Adelaide c1845 - 1930. Accessions 573, 5738, 4348, 4351
  • The Commercial Department Photographic Collection, consisting of around 3,000 images created by the Council’s Commercial Department, and which focuses mainly on images of city’s streets, buildings, parks and gardens, civic events, personalities and developments from the 1950s to 1970s. Accession 3554
  • The Town Clerk’s Department Photograph Albums (23 volumes), containing an array of images of the city and the Council from around 1900 to 1970. Accession 1258
  • The City Engineer’s Department Photographic Albums, containing a collection of engineering photos of works carried out on the City’s streets and squares 1940s – 1960s, and which often show nearby hotels in the background. Accession 3261

With the exception of the Town Clerk’s and City Engineer’s Albums, many of the early photographs are available to view online on the Archives Photo Library. Many of the images have been digitised in partnership with the Adelaide City library and funded by the Keith Sheridan bequest.

To view the archives' photos, go to the Archives Image Library and click on the ‘New Search’ tab in the upper left-hand corner.

You can also view more fascinating images of the city as it once was on the City of Adelaide Flickr page.

Rate Assessment Books

The City of Adelaide Rate Assessment Books were produced annually from 1847. They were prepared for the purpose of assessing and levying the annual municipal property rate.

Each book shows the name of the owner, occupier, and agent of a property, its location, nature and the annual assessed value and rates paid. They are arranged by Wards and generally follow Town Acre number order within each Ward.

Originally in handwritten form, these records were later typewritten from the 1890s. One large volume exists for each year for the 19th and most of the 20th centuries, before they moved to computerised printout in the late 1990s.

The Assessment Books can be used to find out the year of construction of a hotel, as well as the names of its owners and licensees, and how long it existed on a particular site. Unfortunately, they do not always show the name of the hotel.

In order to preserve the original records, the Assessment Books were microfilmed by the Archives during the 1980s, then later digitised. Some of the digitised books (1847 to 1870) are now available on the City Archives website, the remainder can be researched on the Archives Search Room computers (these are being progressively added to the website over time).

Reference: Adelaide City Archives. (C40) Assessment Books 1847-Corporation of the City of Adelaide Record Series S34.

Register of hotels 1941-1963

The Register of Hotels 1941-1963 lists the city's hotels in alphabetical order, showing:

  • the name of the hotel
  • the occupier
  • its Part Town Acre location
  • assessed annual value.

It also contains some reference numbers for related Town Clerk's Department and City Engineer's Department Dockets where additional information may be found.

Reference: Adelaide City Archives. City Treasurer's Department (CS) Register of Hotels [Book]. Record Series S , Accession 1870 Item0001

The Smith Survey

The Smith Survey was a detailed trigonometrical survey of the city of Adelaide carried out by the City Engineer, Charles William Smith during 1879-80, in preparation for the installation of a general system of deep drainage for the city.

The Adelaide City Survey, to give its full official title, comprises some 126 large format maps each of 10 acre blocks, divided into South and North Adelaide. The maps were presented on a scale of 40 feet to the inch.

These maps can be helpful to researchers as they show the location and general site layout of all buildings which existed in the city at that time. The names of many prominent public buildings - including the hotels - are shown, together with their overall dimensions, and other features such as balconies and outbuildings.

Reference: Adelaide City Archives. City Engineer's Department (Cl6) City of Adelaide Survey Plans 1880. Record Series S , Accession 1619.

In addition to the survey maps, the Archives also holds the Adelaide City Survey Field Books that were used by Smith and his assistants to assemble the data that was used to produce the plans.
There are 23 volumes of these, filled with mostly pencilled drawings, notes and calculations. Each volume deals with a particular part of the City being surveyed, with one page of a book covering one Town Acre.

Reference: Adelaide City Archives. City Engineer's Department (Cl6) City of Adelaide Survey Plans 1880. Record Series S , Accession 5913.

The Field Books can be searched using the a separate Index volume which shows which volume details of a particular Town Acre can be found in, along with the page number and the number of the survey sheet.

Reference: Adelaide City Archives. City Engineer's Department (Cl6) City of Adelaide Survey Plans 1880. Record Series S , Accession 5914 Item 0001.

A copy of the complete Smith Survey, including all 23 Field Books, is available for viewing in the City Archives Reference and Guide Room and on the Smith Survey Reference Guide.

Other records

There are miscellaneous records relating to Council-owned hotels to be found within the City Archives.

From 1869 to 1953 the Prince Alfred Hotel, which adjoined the Town Hall building in King William Street (Town Acre 203), was leased by the Council. The Archives holds records relating to its original construction, leasing and eventual transformation into Council offices.

Similarly, there are records relating to the Council’s interest in the Langham Hotel, which was erected in 1880 next to the City Market in Gouger Street (Town Acre 379) and which was demolished in 1968.

In addition to the Building Application Plans, there is a separate series of plans of buildings within the city which since 1924 have been demolished. This includes plans of some hotels which are no longer standing. (Accessions 1829 and 2630).

An alphabetical list of hotels in the city for 1923 appears at the end of Town Clerk’s Department Special File 71B. This source seems to have originally been compiled as a mailing list intended to promote the opening of the new municipal Golf Links and shows the hotels proprietors names and addresses.


Transport has always been a difficulty and cause of concern in Hills history. The building of a Great Eastern Road, an expensive undertaking for a young colony, began in 1841. After much discussion, work began on a south-eastern freeway in the early 1960s. The freeway, running from Eagle on the Hill to beyond Murray Bridge, prompted a boom of new suburban settlement in the Hills. Between 1996 and 2000 the freeway was extended through the steepest part of the Hills, from Glen Osmond to Crafers. Construction of a railway, ultimately connecting to Melbourne, began in 1879 with the first completed section, to Aldgate, opening in 1883. This made commuting to Adelaide an option and promoted a rash of development.

European settlement

South Australia became the chosen location for an experimental form of colonization conceived out of the ideas and the entrepreneurial enthusiasm of Edward Gibbon Wakefield. Wakefield had developed a theory of “systematic colonization” in 1829 that advocated a careful synchronization between the sale of land at a fixed price and the introduction of capital and labour. It was intended also to make emigration a more certain and respectable enterprise for ordinary British folk and to free Australian colonization from the stain of convictism. The proposals for the new colony emerged through a series of controversial negotiations with the British government. The government generally curbed, though it did not eradicate, the original plan’s aspirations toward civil and religious liberties. The projectors were wrongly suspected of republicanism. South Australia was to be no ordinary colony but rather a “province” of the mother country.

The Wakefieldian experiment began with the official settlement on Dec. 28, 1836, soon after the arrival of the first colonists at Glenelg and Kangaroo Island. Col. William Light was responsible for the much-admired plan for the city of Adelaide, which was sited a short distance inland from the first landing on the shores of Gulf St. Vincent.

There were complicated arrangements governing the new colony, including regulations about the finance and control of immigration funds and the uses of revenues. The propaganda efforts of the first promoters—a mixture of commercial, theoretical, and utopian ideas that gave prominence to religious and political freedoms—attracted large numbers of immigrants and led to rapid expansion during the first five years of the colony’s foundation. But the administrative arrangements were ambiguous about the precise powers of the governors and the emigration commissioners and encouraged severe factional bickering. Instability and overexpansion produced a disastrous financial crisis in 1841–42 that threatened the very future of the experiment. The British government intervened, and the fledgling colony was placed under direct control of the Colonial Office. Gov. George Grey imposed severe economic austerity. There was a collapse of confidence, and immigration and investment ceased. Nevertheless, within three years the colony returned to a pattern of growth, which eventually led to solid expansion. Settlers moved outward from Adelaide, and their production of wheat and wool soon exceeded local requirements and provided the basis for export earnings.

South Australia — History and Culture

South Australia is renowned for its booming wine culture, which dominates the landscapes that surround Adelaide. However, the state is also famous for its history. South Australia was the only state in Australia that wasn’t established as a penal colony. Free settlers cleared, constructed and developed the area around modern day Adelaide from 1834.


Indigenous Australians inhabited the area now known as South Australia between 20,000 and 30,000 years ago. Evidence through rock art and settlement tools has been found in the areas of the Nullarbor Plain and Kangaroo Island. European settlers didn’t begin to immigrate into the state of South Australia for about four decades after Australia was first colonized.

Sightings of the South Australian coastal area were first mapped by Dutch explorers in the early 1600s. However, colonization of the state didn’t occur until 1836. Originally, the area was part of the New South Wales colony of 1788. However, the British parliament passed an act permitting the establishment of another state in 1834. This colony state was about 310,000 square miles in allotment, and took up much of the southwestern region of New South Wales. This was called the South Australia Act 1834, and by 1836, the state was formed.

Originally, the first settlers inhabited Kangaroo Island, at the present day Kingscote area. The movement of 636 people and seven ships to area was known as the South Australia Company. However, five months later the settlement was moved to the present-day Glenelg district due to several important factors, including lack of water sources on Kangaroo Island. On December 28, 1836, South Australia was proclaimed as an independent colony.

What makes South Australia different to other colony states in Australia is the fact that no convicts settled here. It was a colony that didn’t use terra nullius laws against local indigenous people, meaning land was supposed to be given legally to Aboriginal populations. Unfortunately, the law was not enforced well, and many squatters and colonists took land from indigenous tribes, often through violence. Nevertheless, South Australia still prides itself today on being the country’s ‘free state’.

South Australia grew on the back of agricultural industries like wine, and the mining industry in the late 19th century. Economic depression hit the state at the end of the 19th and turn of the 20th century, although the wartime era saw Adelaide and other South Australian towns start to increase revenue and expenditure. New industries, such as Whyalla’s shipbuilding industry, become significant players in South Australia’s market economy during and following WWII. This led to large manufacturing companies opening up businesses in the state, including car makers Chrysler and Holden.

Apart from a recession in the late 1990s, South Australia’s modern economic and cultural landscape has continued to develop in recent decades. Much of the state’s history is housed within the History Trust of South Australia (Torrens Parade Ground, Victoria Drive, Adelaide). In addition, Glenelg, which is where the first settlers arrived onto the state’s mainland, boasts the Bay Discovery Centre Museum (Mosely Square, Glenelg, Adelaide). It is full of wondrous information about the first settlers.


The culture in South Australia is similar to that found in other Australian states. Locals enjoy the outdoor lifestyle, with daytrips to beaches and national parks a common occurrence on weekends and holidays. Sport plays an important role in the culture of South Australia too. Australian Rules and cricket are the most popular sports in the state. Two teams play in the Australian Rules Football League (AFL) Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide Power. The rivalry between these teams is excitingly fierce.

The wine culture in South Australia is also quite prominent. There numerous wine regions found in the state, producing some world class brands of white and red wine. The Barossa Valley is considered to be the most renowned wine-growing region in Australia. Jacob’s Creek is now a global wine sensation too.

Adelaide Township A History

Some terminology that may be used in this description includes:

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One of the most crucial requirements for a human settlement is water, and one of Colonel Light’s reasons for situating Adelaide where it is was that a good water supply in the form of the River Torrens was available.

The Kaurna name for the Torrens is Karra Wirri Parri, which means ‘river of the redgum forest ‘ (Whitelock, 1985a p187). Until 1860, Adelaide and its suburbs depended upon water from the Torrens, from wells and from rainwater tanks.

From the early days of Adelaide’s settlement, the problems of maintaining a clean water supply were evident. The Observer of 25 May 1843 published a letter which read in part:

It does appear strange to me that no steps are as yet taken to supply the town with cleaner water. It would be hard indeed to persuade me that the Torrens water is at all wholesome, if sheep washing with tobacco, tanning hides and so forth, are allowed on its banks….

During the 1870s, the infant mortality rate as a result of typhoid and dysentery was so high that the Mayor of Adelaide set up a Central Board of Health to investigate the problem. Unsanitary conditions were finally recognised as the cause of disease, and the death toll began to drop after the first drainage and sewerage farm opened.

In 1881, Adelaide became the first Australian capital city to be connected to a water borne sewerage system (ABS, 1995 p209). The weir that dammed the River Torrens to form the Torrens lake was also built in this year (Whitelock, 1985a p187).

H2O — Hard 2 Obtain

As a result of the pollution of the Torrens, the necessity of importing water became evident. The Mount Lofty Ranges were catchment areas, but the provision of reservoirs became important with five new reservoirs established to 1937:

Thorndon Park 1858
Millbrook 1920
Hope Valley 1876
Mount Bold 1937
Happy Valley 1896

While the provision of these facilities was a remarkable achievement which allowed Adelaideans access to a secure supply of safe water, the precedent had been set to import water, rather than to deal with the causes of pollution (Clark, 1991*).

The next source of water to be tapped was the River Murray, with a pipeline opened from Morgan to Whyalla in 1944 and later Mannum to Adelaide in 1961 (Williams, 1974 p258).

By EC, Adelaide’s water consumption was upwards of 150,000 megalitres per year, rising to 187,000 during the drought of 1993–94. During this time, over 100,000 megalitres was pumped from the Murray to the Adelaide and Onkaparinga pipelines to slake Adelaide’s thirst. The total storage capacity of Adelaide’s metropolitan reservoirs was 195,540 megalitres, with over 8,500 kilometres of water mains infrastructure required to deliver Adelaide’s supply, and the length of sewerage infrastructure was over 6,000km (ABS, 1995 p206, p208)

Adelaide had a totally imported water supply and an almost total export of waste water from the urban area: ‘To South Australians the Murray is an ‘exotic’ water supply.’ (Nance, et al, 1989 p105). South Australia’s water requirements from the Murray were subject to the Murray Darling Basin Commission after 1983 (ABS, 1995 p207), as well as all events occurring upstream. Professor John Lovering, who was the president of the Murray Darling Basin Commission, warned Adelaideans not to take the River Murray, ‘…a long and tenuous lifeline stretching from the snowfields and rain catchments of the eastern states’ (Williams, 1994) for granted.

The Basin covers over 1,000,000 square kilometres of eastern Australia, and was worth $10 billion annually in primary and secondary production to its users in EC times (Williams, 1994).

No River Murray, no Adelaide. It is as simple as that…Without that water, we wouldn’t be here. You just couldn’t sustain the city.

(Lovering in Williams, 1994)

Adelaide had grown beyond what its natural limits would have been without its precarious grip on water originating hundreds of kilometres away.

In Adelaide at the time, 70% of the water reticulated was used for activities (eg. toilet flushing, watering gardens) where drinking water quality standards were not required — less than 5% of the water was used for drinking purposes (Clark & Fisher, 1989 p2, Clark, 1991*). In addition, the amount of stormwater being flushed into the sea was 150,000 ML annually, on a par with the amount of water the city was importing from the catchments and the Murray (Clark & Fisher, 1989 piii).

The problems of pollution — chemicals (particularly runoff from agricultural activity), bacteria and salinity — degraded the River Murray to such an extent that toxic algal blooms thousands of kilometres long appeared during EC, and Adelaide’s water quality suffered accordingly.

Urban conditions were also a factor in the declining quality of Adelaide’s water. Bizarre headlines such as ‘Tonnes of chemicals used to make reservoir water safe’ were a sign of the times (Altmann, 1992).

Because rainwater was not captured and used, it became stormwater. Unable to soak into the earth, the water ran off of the hard surfaces like roads, concrete, roofs, and entered the sea as a filthy cocktail of numerous substances. According to Schwerdtfeger (in Advertiser Newspapers, 1994), Adelaide’s 500,000 cars left 1,000 tonnes of rubber residue on the roads each year, which was then picked up by stormwater — along with dog droppings, grass cuttings, nutrients, legal and illegal dumping — which ended up in the Torrens, the Patawalonga, and eventually out at sea. This in turn resulted in the death of seagrasses which ‘anchored’ sand along Adelaide’s metropolitan beaches, causing erosion, and the ridiculous spectacle of carting thousands of tonnes of sand from one beach to another. Ian Greening, who had a yacht moored at the Patawalonga during this time, made the ominous observation that the Pat’s mud had gnawed away his high strength steel mooring cable in five days: ‘…there’s definitely something down there.’ (Greening in Lloyd, 1994).

Council policies which altered creeks to flush stormwater away as fast as possible had killed Adelaide’s creeks. A study undertaken during EC revealed that no frogs — an indicator of a waterway’s health — were recorded along creeks which had been turned into concrete channels, ornamental creeks which were lined with concrete or creeks which were highly eroded with no vegetation (Suter in The Guardian, 1995).

Consultant Rob Tanner (in Weir, 1993) said that diffuse-source pollution, not point source pollution, was the biggest problem in maintaining water quality, and that each street and each council be made responsible for the quality of water which came from its area. Education programs were launched to teach people that stormwater was different to waste water, and received no treatment before ending up in St Vincent’s Gulf. The separation of waste water from sewage would have allowed grey water recycling, but it was all mixed in together.

Problems were not confined solely to the quality of the water itself. The systems used to deliver this water and export sewage had aged and deteriorated. During, EC the total replacement cost of water supply and sewerage assets in South Australia was estimated to be $10,000,000,000, and 60% of the water supply assets were trunk pipelines for importing water (Clark, 1991*). Adelaide’s waterworks had become a liability, and the city was running out of time:

According to the State’s peak engineering body, the Institute of Engineers…(burst water mains) would become a ‘common occurrence’ unless $1 billion was spent upgrading Adelaide’s water mains system…(which) was a ‘time bomb’ which could explode and kill people at any time.

City Geysers

Burst mains demolished property, caused mini-floods and wasted many litres of precious water. The sewerage infrastructure could not cope either, what with the spills of raw sewage coupled with the 50 billion litres of semi-treated sewage released annually from Bolivar alone (Henschke, 1995).

Clark (1991*) pointed out that centralised systems of water supply (and sewage disposal) had a number of problems: Adelaide was too dependent on the River Murray, and the water was vulnerable to increasing salinisation and activities beyond the control of metropolitan Adelaide the disposal of stormwater, treated, untreated and partially treated sewage had caused the deterioration of marine ecosystems the pricing system was not reflecting the true cost of providing the services or replacing the service infrastructure and the whole system was inherently vulnerable to accident, breakdown or sabotage. There was only one logical choice in the face of all the evidence — the water and sewage systems had to be decentralised.

The Greenhouse That Grows Clean Water

During EC, Adelaide experimented with systems of wetlands and the recharging of Adelaide’s aquifers with stormwater, which was able to be utilised for irrigation at a later stage. Composting toilets made some inroads into negating the sewage problem. The task of dismantling the system which was causing the problems proved to be an enormous task, which could only be done by weaning bits of the city from the mains a piece at a time.

The Halifax EcoCity Project provided the first example of an holistic, co-ordinated approach to water management. The EcoCity’s ethos was to make the city responsible for itself instead of drawing on resources from great distances and flushing the residue elsewhere. The EcoCity sourced as much water as possible from on-site by capturing rainfall, and dealt with all waste water and sewage on site. Reed beds were used to provide a final ‘polish’ on the drinking water, which had been recycled through the Solar Aquatics Biological Treatment Plant:

Solar Aquatics technology duplicates, under controlled conditions, the natural water purification processes of streams and wetlands. Housed within a greenhouse to ensure year round biological activity, wastewater is circulated through ecologically engineered aquatic environments where the contaminants and nutrients are metabolised (broken down) or bound up…Algae, bacteria, other micro-organisms, higher plants, snails and other aquatic animals make up the ecosystem food chain involved in the natural purification of wastewater.

Technology from Massachussetts, USA, in the form of Ecological Engineering’s Solar Aquatics System, enabled the EcoCity to recycle both grey water (laundry, bath, shower) and black water (sewage) within an attractive, odour-free on-site sewage plant, which took up a fraction of the space of a conventional treatment plant. The staff of Ecological Engineering took their clients to lunch in the Solar Aquatics Greenhouse. It was difficult to convince people in Adelaide, before the first plant was built, that this would be a pleasant experience — but the plant on the Halifax EcoCity site soon became a major feature of this popular urban eco-tourism destination.

Solar Aquatics, and the later technologies spawned by it, enabled Adelaideans to gradually to ‘unhook’ themselves from the sprawling but centralised system of water management. This decentralised system was easy to service in the event of problems, as only a small area was affected. The little amount of water required for drinking was captured on site. The fact that there are now less hard surfaces on the Adelaide plains of the Tandanya Bioregion means that stormwater has ceased to be an issue — it is simply soaked up by the earth. The seagrasses are flourishing, and our beaches have recovered from the erosion problems which plagued them during EC. Recycled water from biological treatment plants was able to replace the demand from the River Murray, allowing the river to regain its health. The city of Adelaide now maintains the health of its citizens and the hydrological cycle.

Altmann, Carol (1992) ‘Tonnes of chemicals used to make reservior water safe’. City Messenger, 11/11/92.

Advertiser Newspapers (1994) ‘Nauseous Cocktail flushed into waterways.’ The Advertiser, 18/2/94).

Australian Bureau of Statistics (1993) South Australian Yearbook, 1995. Government Printer, Adelaide.

Clark, Richard (1991* estimate — no date given) Towards Sustainable Water Services For Adelaide And The Integration Of Urban Water And Land Management (Paper). Engineering & Water Supply Department, Adelaide).

Clark, Richard & Fisher, AG (1989) Urban Stormwater: A Resource For Adelaide (Paper). Engineering & Water Supply Department, Adelaide.

Kwan, Elizabeth (1987b) Living in South Australia: A Social History (Vol 2: After1914). Government Printer, Netley, SA.

Lloyd, Megan (1994) ‘Pat filth rots steel: boatie’. Guardian Messenger, 18/5/94.

Weir, Leanne (1993) ‘Turning the tide on water quality.’ The Advertiser, 29/6/95.

Whitelock, Derek (1985a) Adelaide: a Sense of Difference. Savvas Publishing, Adelaide.

Whittington, Sean (1994) ‘Burst pipe triggers new ‘time bomb’ fear.’ Sunday Mail, 8/5/94.

Williams, Michael (1974) The Making of the South Australian Landscape. Academic Press, London.

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