South Australian History Timeline
The first hundred years of colonization
A chronology of the history of South Australia and its capital, Adelaide, up to 1936, the centenary of foundation.
|Evidence of aboriginal occupation of the future South Australia through flint mining and cave wall engravings in the west & South East.|
|Further evidence of aboriginal occupation through wooden tools found in the South East.|
|About 40 tribal groups of aborigines inhabited South Australia.|
eg the Kaurna people occupied the Adelaide Plains & beyond from Cape Jervis to Pt Broughton.
|26 January: 1st known sighting of the South Australian coast (far west) from a European ship, the Gulden Zeepaard, by East Indies Councillor, Pieter Nuyts, and the captain, Francois Thijssen.|
|1789||1st smallpox epidemic reached SA from Pt Jackson, NSW resulting in hundreds of aboriginal deaths.|
|1800||Lt James Grant RN in the Lady Nelson sailed along the south east coast.|
|1802||Capt Matthew Flinders RN in HMS Investigator and Nicolas Baudin in Le Geographe charted all the remaining unexplored coast.|
|1803||1st recorded long term occupancy of Kangaroo Island by American sealers from the brig Union.|
|1819||George Sutherland spent 7 months on KI harvesting seal & kangaroo skins and crossed from Nepean Bay to SW coast. His report influenced the future South Australian Company to establish itself on KI.|
|1829||June: Sketch of a Proposal for Colonizing Australasia by Robert Gouger based on discussions with Edward Gibbon Wakefield.|
National Colonization Society formed in Britain.
2nd smallpox epidemic reached SA and continued into the early 1830s.
|1830||Charles Sturt's expedition from New South Wales reached the River Murray mouth.|
|1831||April: Collet Barker surveyed Gulf St Vincent, climbed Mount Lofty and saw the Port River inlet.|
29 October: 1st "plan of a company to be established for the purpose of founding a colony in Southern Australia..." by Wakefield.
|1833||27 November: Gouger formed the South Australian Association in Britain to found a colony on the principles of Wakefield.|
|1834||30 June: Meeting at Exeter Hall to explain to the public the plan for a new colony of South Australia.|
15 August: South Australia Colonization Act.
29 August: SA Literary Association formed by Richard Hanson & Gouger. Their book collection was the basis of the colony's 1st library.
|1835||5 May: Board of Colonization Commissioners appointed.|
15 October: South Australian Company formed.
|1836||January: Free passage scheme for immigrant labourers commenced.|
21 January: John Hindmarsh appointed as Governor.
4 February: William Light appointed as Surveyor-General.
19 February: Letters Patent issued and attached to the 1834 Act to legally create the Province of South Australia and define its boundaries.
22, 24 February: 1st migrant ships left England with British pioneers for SA.
12 April: Pastor ALC Kavel first met with GF Angas in London to initiate arrangements for the emigration of German Lutherans from Klemzig & elsewhere to SA.
The South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register newspaper founded (1st issue published & printed in England 18 June).
1st permanent pioneer settlers in large numbers arrived at Kangaroo Island on 27, 30 July and 16 August aboard the Duke of York, Lady Mary Pelham and John Pirie.
20 August: Light arrived with other settlers at KI aboard the Rapid.
5 September: Light began his exploration of the areas proposed as possibilities for the capital of SA.
14 November: 1st pioneer settlers arrived on the mainland at Holdfast Bay aboard the Africaine (after its 1st arrival at KI).
20 November: 1st school opened at Kingscote, KI.
17 December: Light chose the site for the capital, to be named Adelaide after King William IV's Queen, & its harbour, having rejected the alternatives at Encounter Bay and Pt Lincoln.
28 December: Governor John Hindmarsh and other European settlers arrived aboard the Buffalo (after 1st arrival at Port Lincoln) and Hindmarsh proclaimed the Province of South Australia.
This began the invasion of the Kaurna tribal lands. There was no treaty nor consultation of any kind. Although the aboriginal people's rights and lands were protected by the Letters Patent attached to the 1834 Act, these provisions were largely ignored by the province's commissioners, governors and the South Australian Company. George Stephenson nominated temporary Protector of Aborigines.
Colonial Commissioner of Lands Fisher, Secretary Gouger, Treasurer Gilles and Governor Hindmarsh commenced duties.
30 December: Hindmarsh, Light & Fisher visited the chosen site for the capital.
31 December: Adelaide and its harbour at Port Creek founded.
31 December: Population (excluding aborigines) 546 (estimate). Aboriginal population 12,000 (estimate).
|1837||2 January: Supreme Court established by Letters Patent; 1st judge Sir John Wm Jeffcott.|
11 January to 10 March: Adelaide surveyed by Light & BT Finniss.
27 March: Adelaide land sale commenced.
April: Captain Walter Bromley appointed as temporary Protector of Aborigines. In consultation with the Kaurna people, he established a native location in the North Park Lands. He died and was replaced by Dr William Wyatt.
13 May: 1st sitting of Supreme Court.
May: Colonial infirmary transferred from a hut to a permanent building.
3 June: 2nd issue (1st in SA) of the SA Gazette & Colonial Register printed.
July: Emigration Depot established in West Park Lands.
16 October: 1st German Lutheran pioneer settlers arrived aboard the Solway.
October: Jeffcott resigned from Supreme Court & drowned 19 Nov.
November: Henry Jinkling appointed as a Supreme Court judge.
31 December: Population (excluding aborigines) 3,270 (estimate).
|1838||26 January: Foundation stone of 1st permanent (Holy) Trinity Church building laid.|
21 May: 1st export (wool).
June: Light resigned.
July: Hindmarsh recalled.
July: Sir Charles Cooper appointed as Supreme Court judge replacing Jeffcott.
17 October: Governor George Gawler commenced duties.
SA Police Force established (1st in Australia).
Jeffcott proclaimed Aborigines to be British subjects (without consultation of any kind).
18 November: 1st of Kavel's Lutheran settlers, financed by Angas, arrived aboard the Prince George.
1st livestock brought from NSW.
31 December: Population (excluding aborigines) 6,000 (estimate).
|1839||Adelaide Chamber of Commerce founded (1st in Australasia).|
SA Agricultural Society formed.
A school for Aboriginal children was opened by Lutheran missionaries.
Dr Matthew Moorhouse was appointed Protector of Aborigines.
German settlers established their village of Klemzig SA.
Others, with assistance from the Zebra captain, DM Hahn, established the village of Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills.
Smallpox vaccination began.
6 October: William Light died of Tuberculosis.
Dec: Infirmary transferred to Emigration Depot.
31 December: Population (excluding aborigines) 10,300 (estimate).
|1840||15 July: (Royal) Adelaide Hospital founded.|
October: Adelaide to Port Adelaide road completed.
October: City of Adelaide council elected (1st in Australia), mayor James Hurtle Fisher.
December: Free passage immigration scheme ceased due to lack of funds.
Total cultivated land 1,013 ha.
Livestock: 959 horses; 16,050 cattle; 166,800 sheep.
Adelaide population 8,480. Number of buildings 1,615.
|1841||January: Population (excluding aborigines) 15,440 (only SA census with surviving details).|
January/February: Adelaide Hospital opened and infirmary closed.
15 May: Governor George Grey commenced duties.
Edward John Eyre crossed from Fowlers Bay to Albany, Western Australia.
Glen Osmond Wheal Gawler silver, lead mine opened (1st metal mine in Australia).
SA Savings Bank opened.
Total cultivated land 2,720 ha.
|1842||Legislative Council of nominated members approved and Colonization Commission abolished.|
Waste Lands Act.
Copper discovered at Kapunda (mining commenced 1844) by Francis Stacker Dutton who later became Premier of SA (1863 & 1865).
Total cultivated land 8,010 ha.
1 July: Compulsory civil registration of births, marriages and deaths commenced.
Annual occupation licences for pastoral land introduced.
|1843||Act to provide for the maintenance and relief of deserted wives & children and other destitute persons.|
The Adelaide Observer newspaper founded.
Some of the Klemzig SA people established the village of Langmeil in the Barossa Valley.
John Ridley invented a stripper harvester.
Total cultivated land 11,600 ha.
|1844||Walkerville Aboriginal School opened.|
Total cultivated land 10,900 ha.
Population (excluding aborigines) 17,366 (census).
|1845||Governor Frederick Holt Robe commenced duties.|
Copper discovered at Burra (mined for 32 years).
Numerous Aboriginal children were dying of European diseases.
|1846||1st hundreds proclaimed to regulate occupation of Crown Lands.|
Population (excluding aborigines) 22,390 (census).
|1847||1st Barossa Valley winery established at Jacob's Creek.|
Collegiate School of St Peter founded.
SA Savings Bank wound up.
|1848||Governor Henry Edward Fox Young commenced duties.|
Savings Bank of SA opened.
|1849||Central board of main roads established.|
Destitute Board established.
|1850||Australian Colonies Government Act proclaimed by British Parliament enabling Legislative Council to be partially elected.|
Total cultivated land 26,200 ha.
Livestock: 6,490 horses; 60,000 cattle; 874,200 sheep.
|1851||Legislative Council now partially elected.|
Education Board established.
Major exodus began to the Victorian gold fields lasting about 4 years.
Pastoral leases replaced annual occupation licences.
Population (excluding aborigines) 63,700 (census).
|1852||District Councils Act.|
1st escorted consignment of gold arrived overland from Victoria.
|1853||Steam navigation of the River Murray began.|
A year of very high inflation.
SA was Australia's major wheat producer.
|1855||Governor Richard Graves MacDonnell commenced duties.|
Population (excluding aborigines) 85,821 (census).
|1856||Boyle Travers Finniss appointed as 1st Premier of SA.|
Constitution and Electoral Law Acts giving male adult suffrage for parliamentary elections (both houses) and 3 year terms.
SA and Victoria introduce secret ballot (used since ancient Athenian times) with strict rules to prevent fraud.
The office of Protector of Aborigines abolished.
1st government telegraph line opened (Adelaide to Port Adelaide).
Adelaide to Port Adelaide railway opened.
|1857||John Baker took over as 2nd Premier but was soon succeeded by Robert Richard Torrens who was replaced by Richard Davies Hanson.|
1st elections (both houses of parliament).
Adelaide to Gawler railway opened.
|1858||Real Property Act.|
Matrimonial Causes Act to facilitate divorce and separation (weighted in favour of husbands).
July: Telegraph line to Melbourne opened.
Aborigines Friends Association formed.
South Australian Advertiser newspaper founded.
|1859||Copper discovered December on Wallaroo Run near Kadina.|
|1860||Thomas Reynolds took over as Premier.|
1st reservoir completed (Thorndon Park).
|1861||Western boundary of SA changed from 132°E to 129°E, increasing the total area from 802,511 to 1,043,514 km².|
SA Gas Company Act.
Propertied women given the right to vote at municipal elections.
Office of Protector of Aborigines restored.
Copper discovered at Moonta.
George Marsden Waterhouse became Premier.
Population (excluding aborigines) 126,830 (census).
|1862||Governor Dominick Daly commenced duties.|
John McDouall Stuart crossed Australia from south to north (complete journals).
|1863||Northern Territory annexed by SA.|
Gas works established at Brompton.
Goyder's Line of Rainfall delineated.
|1866||Destitute Person's Relief Act.|
209 deaths from typhoid fever.
Population (excluding aborigines) 163,452 (census).
|1867||240 deaths from diphtheria.|
|1868||Method of clearing mallee scrub developed by Charles Mullen.|
|1869||Waste Lands Amendment Act (Strangways Act).|
SA Chamber of Manufactures founded.
Governor James Fergusson commenced duties.
|1870||Deceased Wife's Sister Act.|
|1871||Population (excluding aborigines) 185,425 (census).|
|1872||Overland telegraph connected Adelaide to London.|
|1873||Public Health Act.|
8 hour working day, 6 days per week began to be established.
Governor Anthony Musgrave commenced duties.
|1874||Civil Service Act.|
University of Adelaide Act.
|1875||Education Act which made schooling compulsory for children aged 7 to 13 years.|
Forest Board appointed.
Crude death rate peaked at 20 (after about 14 for 30 years, then steadily fell to present day 7).
|1876||Trade unions recognised legally.|
University of Adelaide began teaching.
Stump-jump plough invented by Richard Bower Smith.
Adelaide Children's Hospital opened.
Population (excluding aborigines) 212,528 (census).
Higher proportion of women to men.
Aboriginal population 6,000 (estimate) at 31 December.
|1877||Governor William Francis Drummond Jervois commenced duties.|
Burra copper mine closed.
Government established forest nurseries.
|1878||St Peter's Cathedral consecrated.|
Horse drawn tram system introduced to Adelaide.
Kapunda copper mine closed.
|1879||1st public secondary school (Advanced School for Girls) opened.|
|1880||Women permitted to undertake degrees.|
Adelaide Creche founded.
Severe drought 1880-1.
|1881||Destitute Person's Act to eliminate 'baby farming'.|
Adelaide to Port Pirie railway opened.
More than 440 deaths from tuberculosis (peak after gradual increase, then similar numbers each year until 1895, followed by a gradual decline).
1st Australian capital connected to a water-borne sewerage system (Islington Sewerage Farm).
Population (excluding aborigines) 275,344 (census).
|1882||Adelaide to Port Augusta railway opened.|
More than 140 deaths from typhoid fever (similar numbers each year for the rest of the decade).
Severe drought 1882-3.
|1883||Married Women's Property Act.|
Governor William Cleaver Francis Robinson commenced duties.
Adelaide Telephone Exchange opened.
Roseworthy Agricultural College established.
|1884||Custody of Infants Act.|
United Trades and Labor Council formed.
Land and income taxes introduced.
|1885||Broken Hill, NSW ore (silver, lead, zinc) discovered.|
Total cultivated land 1,100,000 ha which remained approximately constant for the remainder of the century.
|1886||State Children's Council established.|
|1887||Guardianship of Infants Act.|
Adelaide to Melbourne railway opened.
Renmark Irrigation Colony established.
|1888||Crown Lands Act.|
|1889||Governor Algernon Hawkins Thomond commenced duties.|
Lead smelting began at Port Pirie.
School of Mines and Industries opened (later renamed SA Institute of Technology, now University of SA).
|1890||220 deaths from diphtheria (peak after 10 years of about 180 pa).|
|1891||United Labor Party formed.|
National Park Act.
Population (excluding aborigines) 315,212 (census).
|1892||Compulsory education provided free.|
|1893||Village Settlement Act.|
|1894||Women enfranchised (exercised 1896).|
Industrial Arbitration and Conciliation Act.
Department of Mines established.
|1895||Governor Thomas Fowell Buxton commenced duties.|
|1896||State Bank of SA opened.|
Severe drought 1896-7.
|1897||Closer Settlement Act.|
Constitutional Convention on Federation held in Adelaide.
|1898||More than 140 deaths from typhoid fever.|
|1899||Governor Hallam Tennyson commenced duties.|
BHP began mining at Iron Knob.
Referendum on Federation — 70% of South Australians voted yes.
|1900||Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act passed by British parliament.|
Workmen's Compensation Act.
1st electric power station opened in Adelaide.
|1901||1 January: Federation of all Australian colonies into the Commonwealth of Australia.|
Whyalla founded on Spencer Gulf to export iron ore — connected by rail to Iron Knob.
Volunteers left for Boer War.
Population (excluding aborigines) 358,346 (census).
|1902||Barossa reservoir construction completed.|
|1903||1st Australian crematorium opened at West Terrace Cemetery.|
30 September: Automobile & Motor Cycle Club of SA formed, forerunner of the Royal Automobile Association of SA.
Methodist Church formed by amalgamation of Bible Christians, Primitive Methodists & Wesleyans.
|1904||Motor Traffic Regulation Act (1st in Australia).|
Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange opened in the East End.
Lower Murray wetlands drainage commenced.
|1905||Kindergarten Union of SA established.|
|1906||1st free kindergarten opened in Adelaide.|
Military cadet system commenced.
1st state in Australia to issue driving licences.
Municipal Tramways Trust Act.
Uranium discovered at Radium Hill.
|1907||Secondary School Education Bill.|
|1908||Outer Harbour [officially spelt Outer Harbor from 1913] opened at the mouth of the Port Inlet.|
Adelaide High School opened (1st free secondary school in British Empire).
|1909||1st electric tram in Adelaide.|
Women's Non-Party Political Association formed (later, League of Women Voters).
Fruit blocks in Riverland established.
|1910||SA Water Authority established.|
|1911||SA administration of Northern Territory transferred to Commonwealth Government.|
SA Aborigines Act to 'protect and control'.
|1912||Construction of section of transcontinental railway to WA commenced.|
|1913||Construction of Lock 1 on the River Murray at Blanchetown commenced.|
Metropolitan abattoirs opened.
1st issue of SA Motor published.
|1914||Long disputed (~75 years) land adjacent to the Victoria border (a 3.6 km wide strip of ~1,300 km²) was ceded to Victoria on a ruling of the Privy Council and receipt of £215,000.|
1st troops left for Europe to fight WWI.
9 October 1914: Torrens Island Internment Camp opened.
Construction commenced on Millbrook & Warren reservoirs.
Cheer-up Society founded.
|1915||Torrens Island Internment Camp closed.|
1st women police officers in British Commonwealth appointed.
Opal discovered at Coober Pedy.
Wet wheat pickler invented by A Hannaford at Riverton to prepare seed for sowing.
|1916||National conscription referendum — SA opposed.|
|1917||Transcontinental railway completed — 1st train to Perth, WA.|
River Murray Commission established.
1st Australian town planning conference.
German private schools closed because of WWI.
Nomenclature Act changed 69 placenames of German origin.
Holden & Frost began mass producing motor bodies.
|1918||End of WWI — about 6,400 SA soldiers killed.|
Matrimonial Causes Act.
1st woman politician in Australia elected to Brighton Council (later, Holdfast Bay).
|1920||Archives Department for the Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery opened (1st public archive in Australia).|
Town Planning and Development Act.
|1921||Population exceeded 500,000.|
|1922||Blanchetown lock completed.|
|1923||Aborigines (Training of Children) Act.|
Moonta mines closed.
Improved dry wheat pickler invented by A Hannaford.
|1924||Waite Agricultural Research Institute established.|
1st radio stations began broadcasting.
|1925||Adoption of Children Act.|
Motor bus services commenced.
Wayville showgrounds opened.
Public Library, Museum & Art Gallery, and Institute Act (1st in Australia).
|1927||Children's Welfare and Public Relief Board established.|
Mothers and Babies Health Association established (1st in Australia).
Parafield Airport opened.
Paringa rail bridge opened.
|1928||Adelaide Railway Station building completed.|
1st practical pedal wireless sets produced by A Traeger.
|1929||Pt Augusta to Alice Springs railway completed.|
Adeleide to Glenelg tramway completed.
|1930||Unemployment Relief Council formed.|
Opal discovered at Andamooka.
|1931||Financial Emergency Act.|
Holden's Motor Body Builders taken over by General Motors (Aust) P/L.
Population 577,079 (census).
|1932||Liberal and Country League formed.|
Mt Bold reservoir construction commenced.
1st trolley bus in Australia ran from Payneham to Paradise.
|1933||1st John Martin's Christmas Pageant.|
|1934||Local Government Act.|
Aborigines Act (Consolidated).
|1935||Nomenclature Act restored some German place names.|
|1936||State centenary of foundation.|
Parliament House foundation stone laid.
SA Housing Trust established (1st in Australia).
W Vamplew, E Richards, D Jaensch and J Hancock, South Australian Historical Statistics Monograph No 3, NSW, 1984
and numerous other publications including newspapers and acts of parliament.
Government supported schools & tertiary education institutions may continue to freely copy this timeline in whole or in part.