Timelines - Founding to Federation

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South Australian Time Lines from Founding to Federation


1836: South Australia proclaimed by Governor John Hindmarsh on December 28 at the Old Gum Tree, Glenelg.
1836: Site for Adelaide chosen by Colonel William Light beside the River Torrens.
1837: Colonel Light completes survey of Adelaide city centre and designs the city's grid layout. Allotments of 1 acre (0.40 ha) are made.
1837: First regional town, Gawler, is founded north of Adelaide.
1837: Adelaide's first hospital opens on North Terrace.
1838: The first Australian police force is formed in Adelaide, the South Australia Police.
1838: Overlanders Joseph Hawdon and Charles Bonney arrive in Adelaide from New South Wales with 300 head of cattle.
1838: First German immigrants arrive and settle in Adelaide and surrounds.
1839: Colonel Light dies at Thebarton and is interred in Light Square beneath a memorial. He is the only person buried within "the square mile".
1839: The first road in South Australia, Port Road, is opened.
1839: Edward John Eyre begins his explorations of the Flinders Ranges and beyond.


1840: The first portion of Government House is completed, becoming the first in Australia.
1840: Royal Adelaide Show held for the first time.
1840: The Corporation of Adelaide is founded as the first municipal authority in Australia.
1840: All 26 survivors of the shipwreck Maria are murdered by Aboriginals in mysterious circumstances along the Coorong.
1841: Construction of Adelaide Gaol begins.
1841: Adelaide Hospital (later Royal) opened.

1842: Copper is discovered at Kapunda.
1843: The first Legislative Council building opens on North Terrace.
1844: The colonial Government takes control of the Corporation of Adelaide.
1845: Copper is discovered at Burra.
1845: Port Pirie founded on the upper Spencer Gulf.
1846: John Ainsworth Horrocks dies while exploring land to the northwest of Lake Torrens.
1847: St Peter's College established.
1848: Pulteney Grammar School established


1850: The forerunner to Harris Scarfe, G. P. Harris and J. C. Lanyon, opened on Hindley Street.
1852: The Corporation of Adelaide is reconstituted. First transport of gold overland arrived in Adelaide.
1854: The township of Port Augusta at the head of Spencer Gulf is surveyed.
1854: The township of Gambierton, later Mount Gambier is founded in the South East.
1856: The South Australian Institute, from which the State Library, State Museum and Art Gallery
derived, is founded.
1856: First telegraph line and steam railway between Adelaide and Port Adelaide opened.
1856: South Australia becomes one of the first places in the world to enact the Secret Ballot.
1857: Adelaide Botanic Gardens opened at today's site in the Parklands at the corner of North and East Terraces.
1858: Melbourne-Adelaide telegraph line opened.
1858: The first edition of The Advertiser newspaper is published.
1859: A jetty of more the 350 metres in length is constructed at Glenelg.
1859: Shipwreck of SS Admella off Carpenter Rocks in the South East. 89 dead. Worst maritime disaster to this day.


1860: Thorndon Park Reservoir supplied water through new reticulation system.
1861: East Terrace markets opened.
1861: Copper discovered at Moonta, on the Yorke Peninsula.
1863: First gas supplied to city.
1862: John McDouall Stuart successfully crosses the continent from north to south on his sixth attempt.
1865: Bank of Adelaide founded.
1866: The Italianate Adelaide Town Hall opened.
1866: First oil exploration in Australia at Alfred Flat near Salt Creek, along the Coorong.
1867: Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, made first royal visit to Adelaide.
1869: The City Market (later Central) opened on Grote Street.
1869: Prince Alfred College established.


1870: Port Adelaide Football Club established.
1872: The General Post Office opened. Adelaide became first Australian capital linked to Imperial London with completion of the Overland Telegraph.
1873: First cricket match played at Adelaide Oval.
1874: The Adelaide Oval is officially opened.
1874: The University of Adelaide founded.
1875: Adelaide Steamship Company founded.
1876: Adelaide Children's Hospital founded.
1877: The Adelaide Bridge across the Torrens completed.
1877: Copper mines at Burra and Kapunda close.
1878: First horse-drawn trams in Australia commenced operations in the city.
1879: Foundation stone of the University of Adelaide laid.


1880: Telephone introduced in South Australia.
1880: Fort Glanville opens.
1880: Reformatory Hulk Fitzjames commissioned and moored off Largs Bay.
1881: The Art Gallery of South Australia opened by Prince Albert Victor.
1881: Torrens Lake created following the construction of weir.
1881: Coopers Brewery is established.
1881: Drought ruins thousands of farmers on marginal land in the Mid North and Goyder's Line is recognised as the limit to agricultural settlement.
1882: First water-borne sewerage service in Australia commenced.
1882: The City Baths opened on King William Road.
1883: Adelaide Zoological Gardens opened.
1884: Adelaide Trades and Labor Council inaugurated.
1884: Fort Largs opens.
1885: The Adelaide Arcade opens.
1885: Flinders Column erected at the Mount Lofty Summit.
1887: Express train services between Adelaide and Melbourne commence.
1887: Stock Exchange of Adelaide forms.
1889: School of Mines and Industries opens on North Terrace.
1889: Lead smelters built at Port Pirie.


1892: First public statue, Venus (Venere Di Canova), unveiled on North Terrace.
1891: The Central Australia Railway reaches Oodnadatta in the far north.
1891 Four United Labor Party candidates are elected to Parliament, the first endorsed Labor members in Australia.
1892: First public statue, Venus (Venere Di Canova), unveiled on North Terrace.
1894: Parliament passes the Constitutional Amendment Act and South Australia becomes the first colony in Australia and the fourth place in the world to grant adult women the right to vote and the first in the world to grant them the right to stand as Members of Parliament. The right to vote includes Aboriginal women.
1896: Moving pictures shown for first time in South Australia at Theatre Royal on Hindley Street.
1896 Women vote in a general election for the first time in Australia and the second time anywhere in the world.
1896: Happy Valley Reservoir opened.
1897: Constitutional Convention on Federation held in Adelaide.
1899: South Australian contingent leaves Adelaide for the Second Boer War.
1899: State Referendum on Federation: South Australia votes Yes (70.2%).
1899 Governor Hallam Tennyson commenced duties, and BHP began mining at Iron Knob.


1900 Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act passed by British parliament.
1900 Workmen's Compensation Act.
1901 Federation of all Australian colonies into the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January.
1901 Population (excl aborigines) 358,346 (census).