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Historical Trams of Adelaide
Photo: Historical Trams of Adelaide

Adelaide History South Australia

More than 40,000 years ago, the Kaurna Aboriginal people settled the Adelaide Plains, calling it Tandanya, ‘place of the red kangaroo’.

In 1802, after a chance meeting with the French navigator Nicolas Baudin off the coast of south Australia, the early British explorer Matthew Flinders maps the entire South Australian coast in his ship, the Investigator.

Despite their respective countries being at war (again), both were more interested in each others respective scientific finds than anything else. The pair ended up swapping notes off the Fleurieu Peninsula coast. See Map of South Australia.

Adelaide City

The City of Adelaide in South Australia was founded in 1836, being named after King William’s popular wife.

Unlike the other Australian states, Adelaide’s citizens were not taken from the many convicts originally sent by Britain to Australia, but were free settlers. While most immigrants in the 1800s came from Great Britain, others began to arrive from diverse places, including Germany, Poland, Afghanistan, China, Italy, Lebanon, Spain and Scandinavia. All have left their mark in Adelaide and South Australia.

Attracted by the potential to build their wealth in the copper industry, or in wool and wheat, there were also those seeking safety from the religious persecution that was still present in Europe at the time.

Colonel William Light

The city of Adelaide was purpose designed from the beginning in a grid formation by Colonel William Light, with wide, attractive streets, while being surrounded by the boulevards and green parklands. See Adelaide Map.

Colonel Light’s foresight in reserving the surrounding fresh water lagoons and good grasslands in Adelaide for a city, prompted him to finally choose this region as the State’s capital. Other places that had been considered at the time were Kangaroo Island, Yorke Peninsula and the Eyre Peninsula.

Glenelg Beach

The first ships landed at Glenelg beach, southwest of today’s central business district and now a bustling seaside resort.

Some Adelaide Historical Facts - Timeline

  • 1840: Adelaide gets the first municipal government in Australia.
  • 1847: The Barossa Valley’s first winery began operating.
  • 1857: The Adelaide Botanic Gardens opens its gates on North Terrace Boulevard.
  • 1863: Gas begins to be supplied to the city.
  • 1873: Adelaide Oval hosts its first Cricket Match.
  • 1880: The University of Adelaide became to the first in Australia to open its doors to women.
  • 1894: The colony’s Parliament votes to make South Australia the first place in the world to allow women to become politicians.
  • 1900: South Australia opens its first electricity station.
  • 1915: A referendum was held about the liquor laws, forcing pubs to close their doors at 6 p.m.
  • 1929: The city begins operating electric trams to Glenelg Beach. This tramline is still in operation and a great way to get to this beautiful part of Adelaide.
  • Adelaide’s Goal

    See Greater Adelaide Surrounds Map: Adelaide City Map, South Australia.

    Work, Jobs in South Australia

    Thought about a working holiday in Australia, including Adelaide? - Work in Australia - Jobs.

    South Australia Accommodation

    South Australia hotels and other accommodation - Hotels in Australia.


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