South Australian Heritage Places - Research Leads organised by Type of Place


Guide to Heritage Agencies in South Australia (DEH Heritage Webnote)

The Heritage Branch as a Resource for Researchers (DEH Heritage Webnote)

Research Leads organised by Type of Place


The monuments in cemeteries can be of interest in their own right. There are usually some particularly fine examples of stone masonry, and sometimes headstones made of less common materials such as timber, slate and cast iron. The symbolism featured on some monuments is a study of its own, while the inscriptions contain a great deal of history. Most of the States cemeteries (over 600) have had their inscriptions transcribed by volunteers from the South Australian Genealogy and Heraldry Society, which maintains a single alphabetical index to them, arranged by surname. The index and a great many other resources for family history research are available in the Society's library.

Church buildings

Histories of all the major religious denominations in South Australia, and of many individual churches, are available in the State Library of South Australia. A useful overview of the State's religious groups, which includes most of the smaller  bodies, is John Whitehead, Adelaide: City of Churches (Magill, 1986). Despite its title, it covers the greater metropolitan area and a few churches beyond, and is copiously illustrated, providing an armchair tour of a diverse range of buildings and beliefs.

Since the mid-nineteenth century various religious bodies have merged, resulting in redundant churches, the recycling of churches between denominations and the conversion of some buildings to secular use. Three strands of Scottish Presbyterianism came together in 1865. Bible Christians, Primitive Methodists and Wesleyan Methodists united in 1900 to form the Methodist Church, which in 1977 joined with Congregational and the majority of Presbyterian churches to form the Uniting Church in Australia. The two Lutheran churches that resulted from a split in 1846 did not reunite until 1966.

Any selection from the large number of churches in South Australia is difficult, but three early ones are especially interesting. Holy Trinity Anglican Church, North Terrace, Adelaide (State Heritage Place 13357), is the oldest extant church building, with parts of it dating from 1838, while the Society of Friends (Quaker) Meeting House (1840: State Heritage Place 10864), located behind St Peters Cathedral at North Adelaide, is a rare and notably intact example of one of the prefabricated buildings made by Henry Manning of London for use by emigrants from Britain. Another early structure is the first Lutheran college and seminary in the southern hemisphere (1845: State Heritage Place 11689), a one-room building in the grounds of St Johns Lutheran Church, Lobethal. It now stands within a modern building, the Lobethal Archives and Historical Museum (1962), and is an uncommon example of a building being preserved by having another built around it.

Essays on early churches can be found in T.T. Reed, Historic Churches of Australia (South Melbourne, 1978). [Holy Trinity, Adelaide; St Johns, Lobethal; St Jamess, Blakiston; Salem Chapel, Gumeracha; St Matthews, Poonindie; The Friends Meeting House, North Adelaide and the Congregational Chapel, Macclesfield.] Brian Andrews, Gothic in South Australian Churches (Adelaide, 1984) includes essays on some later buildings. A Selective Regional Bibliography of the Architectural History of South Australia including Social Histories of Churches and Schools (Adelaide, 1991) provides a convenient selection of individual church histories (see also Peake 'Sources below). Peter and June Donovan, 150 Years of Stained & Painted Glass (Netley, 1986) includes a State-wide gazetteer of significant windows, many of which are in churches.


Although church buildings are the most visible indicator of the presence of religious adherents in a community, it is important also to recognise the social role of local congregations. These have long provided networks of social support that serve both church members and the communities of which they are a part.  The important role of Sunday schools in teaching basic literacy prior to free public education, the role of church choirs, mens and womens fellowships, sporting clubs and youth groups in the social life of members, and the civic leadership provided by some individual ministers and lay leaders, has been very significant.

Other important contributions include the establishment of many church schools, provision of cottage homes and accommodation for the elderly, and the creation of and support for a large number of welfare organizations and programs. Brian Dickey, Giving a Hand: A History of Anglicare SA (Adelaide, 2003) provides an account of one denomination's activities.

A very useful overview of South Australian religious history is D Hilliard & A Hunt 'Religion in E Richards (ed) The Flinders History of South Australia: Social History (Netley, 1986), pp 194-234.
Three church history groups have web sites:
The Lutheran Archives: http://www.lca.org.au/lutherans/archives.cfm
Adelaide Catholic Archdiocesan Archives: http://www.adelaide.catholic.org.au/sites/Archives
The Uniting Church Historical Society: http://historicalsociety.unitingchurch.org.au
In addition, chapter three of Andrew Peake, South Australian History Sources, (Modbury, 2007) is devoted to church records and lists baptismal, marriage, members rolls and other such records, as well as major history books, pamphlets and serials by denomination.


Motion pictures in the form we now know them arrived in South Australia on the afternoon of 19 October 1896, when some short films were exhibited in the now demolished Theatre Royal, Hindley Street, Adelaide.

The use of existing halls and theatres was typical of the early years of the cinema, and it was another 14 years before Adelaide's first permanent picture theatre opened on 5 December 1908. This was TJ West's Olympia in Hindley Street, which opened in a building that had previously housed a skating rink (D Walker Adelaide's Silent Nights Canberra 1996).

Two cinema chains came to dominate the early decades of cinema in South Australia. Ozone Amusements Ltd, formed in 1911, began screening films in the Semaphore Town Hall (now the Semaphore Public Library) and opened their first purpose-built picture theatre, the Port Ozone, in St Vincent Street, Port Adelaide in 1913. (Demolished 1979). The Ozone chain grew to include cinemas at Semaphore, Alberton, Enfield, Prospect, Marryatville, Renmark, Broken Hill, Murray Bridge, Port Pirie and Victor Harbor. (News 5.11.1937)

Dan Clifford's Star Theatre chain began in 1916 or 1917 when he leased the Torrensville Star Theatre on Henley Beach Road and the Hindmarsh Town Hall. Clifford's subsequent acquisitions included the suburban circuit of the Greater Wondergraph Company in September 1920. He formed Star Pictures Ltd in 1922, but in April 1923 the company name changed to D Clifford Theatres Ltd. Star Pictures first purpose-built theatre was the Norwood Star (1923), corner of Queen Street and The Parade. Other theatres built for the Company were at Parkside (1923), Murray Bridge (1924), St Peters (1925), Unley (1928), Mt Gambier (1928), Kingswood (1939), North Adelaide (1940) and Goodwood (1941).

Star Pictures also entered into joint arrangements with local councils, which led to the construction of the Woodville (1927), Thebarton (1928) and Hindmarsh (1936) Town Halls. The Company was sold to Greater Union Theatres Pty Ltd in 1947, and the name Star was gradually replaced with Odeon. (J Thiele & R Lange Thanks for the Memory Goodwood 1991)

Talking pictures came to South Australia in 1929. The next major innovation was drive-in theatres, starting with the Blueline at West Beach on 28 December 1954. A good deal of information on Australian and South Australian drive-ins is on the Drive-ins Downunder web site. The advent of cinemascope and even wider screen films led to remodelling of screens in conventional cinemas, but the coming of television (1959) had more drastic results. Declining audiences led many cinemas to close, with conversion to supermarkets being a common fate outside of the City of Adelaide. As competition for the leisure dollar increased, twinning and tripling of the larger surviving theatres became a popular strategy.

A small number of cinemas are entered as State Heritage Places in the SA Heritage Register. The former Semaphore Ozone Theatre, originally constructed as the Semaphore Institute (1884), now houses the Semaphore Public Library, which means its fine interior can be readily viewed. The Piccadilly (1940) in O'Connell St, North Adelaide, is a good example of an art deco cinema. So too is the Capri (1941) on Goodwood Rd, originally named the New Goodwood Star, which also features South Australia's only theatre organ operating in a working cinema. The Capri is owned by the Theatre Organ Society of Australia (SA Division), and the Society's web site includes photographs of the Capri's interior and links to other theatre and organ history societies.

Other cinemas which are State Heritage Places include the former Capitol Theatre (1926) at Peterborough, the former Lobethal Cinema (1936) at Lobethal and the Chelsea Cinema (1925) at Kensington Park.

For cinema and former cinema buildings in Adelaide see the City Council's West and East End Theatre Walking Trail.



The following is a selection of former homes of South Australians which are open for public inspection. Information about the more notable owners can be found in the multi-volume Australian Dictionary of Biography (1966- ) and information about the buildings in booklets and pamphlets available on site. In some cases opening hours and contact details are available on the Collections Australia Network web site.

Home Location Telephone Former Owner(s)
Ayers House Adelaide (61 8) 8223 1234 Ayers, Sir Henry
Beaumont House Beaumont
(61 8) 8379 5301
Short, Bishop Augustus
Davenport, Sir Samuel
Carrick Hill Springfield (61 8) 8379 3886 Hayward, Sir Edward
Collingrove Angaston (61 8) 85642061 Angas, John Howard
Cummins Novar Gardens (61 8) 8294 1939 Morphett, Sir John
Dingley Dell Port MacDonnell (61 8) 8738 2221 Gordon, Adam Lindsay
Malowen Lowarth Burra (61 8) 8892 2255
(Tourist Information Centre)
Mine workers
Martindale Hall Mintaro (61 8) 8843 9088 Bowman, Edmund (Jr)
Mortlock, W.R.
Old Government House Belair (61 8) 8278 8094 MacDonnell, Sir Richard
Olivewood Renmark (61 8) 8586 6704
(Tourist Information Centre)
Chaffey, George
The Grange Grange (61 8) 8356 8185 Sturt, Capt Charles

Friendly Society (Lodge) Halls

Friendly societies, commonly known as Lodges, pre-dated government welfare and were a form of self-help, with workers banding together to pool their funds via regular subscriptions. Amongst other things, the funds were used to provide medical services and medicines, to support members when sickness prevented them working, and to provide funeral benefits to their families. In addition, the lodges provided a focus for social activities, including the regular meetings of members and the rituals associated with them.

Australian lodges were generally modelled on those already operating in Britain, which dated from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Lodges active in South Australia included the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF), Manchester Unity Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Grand United Order of Odd Fellows, the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes (RAOB), the United Ancient Order of Druids, the Ancient Order of Foresters, the Independent Order of Rechabites and the Australian Natives Association (ANA). Recent decades have seen these groups subsumed into larger organizations. (eg The Foresters, Rechabites, Druids and ANA merged into Lifeplan Community Services on 1 July 1984.)

D Green & L Cromwell's Mutual Aid or Welfare State: Australia's Friendly Societies (North Sydney, 1984, p10) states that South Australia's first friendly society was established in 1840. Their book is an excellent introduction to the self-help philosophy the societies represented and indicates that South Australian societies attracted proportionately more members and associated beneficiaries that those of the other States. LS Curtis The Benefit Societies of South Australia (Adelaide, 1908) provides one page snapshots of several groups histories and notes that the Female Tent of the Independent Order of Rechabites (Salford Unity), which opened at North Adelaide on 12 December 1865, was 'the first Female Friendly Benefit Society established in the [presumably Australian] Colonies' (p19).

A contemporary account gives a sense of the friendly societies' importance:

In a young community like ours, where Government has organised no regular system for the relief of sickness and distress in the country districts, Friendly Societies are of incalculable benefit. How many homes in the colony have they shielded from poverty and want! How many, through their aid, have been able manfully to struggle through long sickness, receiving only their just due, earned by their own economy and prudence, which thus enabled them to maintain the contest without calling upon the cold hand of charity, or tardy aid of Government, for relief! - G Nott 'Rise and Progress of Gawler' (1860) reproduced in GE Loyau The Gawler Handbook … (Adelaide, 1880, p15)

Lodge halls entered in the SA Heritage Register include the former Foresters Lodge Hall (now the Watervale Community Hall), Main North Rd, Watervale (1872; State Heritage Place 12629); the former Oddfellows Hall at 74 Grants Gully Rd, Clarendon (1873; State Heritage Place 10473); and the former Friendly Societies Hall at 141 Tynte St, North Adelaide (1879; State Heritage Place 10864), which was shared by the Oddfellows and Foresters. [NB When searching databases remember that Odd Fellows has become one word in popular usage.]

Like Town Halls, Institutes and church halls, the lodge halls also served the wider community's need for meeting places for clubs and societies and venues for dances, picture shows and other forms of entertainment.

The former Oddfellows Hall (1859) at 63 Murray St, Gawler is a Local Heritage Place and was the first Oddfellows Hall built in the Colony. As was common, the lodge had previously met in hotels. (G Nott 'Rise and Progress of Gawler' (1860) reproduced in GE Loyau The Gawler Handbook … (Adelaide, 1880, p15). The hall also has a special claim to fame for South Australians as the site of the first performance of The Song of Australia, the winning entry in the Gawler Institute's 1859 competition for a national song. After Caroline Carleton's lyrics were selected from 93 entries, German-born Carl Linger won the competition to set them to music, and The Song of Australia was first performed in the Oddfellows Hall on 12 December 1859. In July 1894 The Education Gazette carried a notice which advised: 'In order to encourage a feeling of patriotism, the Minister wishes all children to be taught to sing The Song of Australia' and the practice continued for generations. A booklet on the Song and its writer and composer was published on the Gawler Council's web site in early 2009 in anticipation of the Song's sesquicentenary.

Further reading: PJ Webb 'Friendly Societies in South Australia, 1840-1892' (BA (Hons) thesis, University of Adelaide, 1969).


Public gardens entered in the South Australian Heritage Register include the Soldiers’ Memorial Gardens at Victor Harbor and Strathalbyn; the gardens at Carrick Hill, Springfield; the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden, Adelaide; Wittunga Botanic Garden, Blackwood; and the Cave Gardens Reserve at Mount Gambier.

The State Library of South Australia has a very useful Fact Sheet, Gardens in South Australia, which lists a wide variety of sources for both public and private garden history.


Gaols open for public inspection include the State's first, the Adelaide Gaol (1841); the Redruth Gaol at Burra (1856), which was the first outside of Adelaide; the Mount Gambier Gaol (1865), which now serves as a backpackers hostel; and the Gladstone Gaol (1881).


The history of a hotel building can provide insights into many aspects of a locality's history. Commonly one of the first buildings in a settlement, providing food, drink and lodging, hotels often also served as meeting places for local councils, sporting clubs and friendly societies, were the venues for theatrical performances,dances, darts and skittles, and sometimes served as post offices, morgues and venues for inquests.

Over time physical evidence of some former roles has become rare. Commercial travellers once used hotels as venues to display their wares, and a Sample Room survives at the rear of the Jubilee (former Royal Exchange) Hotel in Port Pirie. Some hotel yards retain stables from the coaching days.

Design aspects of interest include the transition from single to double-storey structures, the widespread use of decorative cast iron on balconies and verandahs, and the changes which resulted from the introduction of six o'clock closing in 1916 and its abolition in 1967. Corner locations were popular, presumably because of the benefits to trade of exposure to two streets.

Hotel names may also hold some history. They may relate to location (Railway, Newmarket, Gasworks), be reminders of countries of origin (German Arms, Robin Hood, Prince of Wales), relate to trades (Joiners Arms), commemorate significant events (Federal, Pretoria), or simply adopt place names (Woodville, Finsbury). In addition, their locations may serve as evidence of transport routes now forgotten, with early country hotels being a day's journey by bullock dray apart.

RL Hoad Hotels and Publicans in South Australia 1836-1984 (Australian Hotels Association [SA Branch] & Gould Books 1986) is the standard reference work for hotels and their licensees. A second edition updated to March 1993 was published posthumously in a limited print run in 1999.

According to Hoad (2nd edition, p8) the oldest hotel licence in South Australia (31 March 1837) is held by the Edinburgh Castle Hotel (originally known as Guthries) in Currie Street, Adelaide,and the oldest hotel building with its original façade is the Rob Roy in Halifax Street, Adelaide, a portion of which dates from 1842.

The introductory chapters of P Sumerling's book on the hotels of Kensington, Norwood and Kent Town, Down at the Local (City of Norwood, Payneham and St Peters, 1998), provide an overview of the social history of hotels and their evolution in South Australia.


Institute Buildings

In the days before free local public libraries became common - Elizabeth was South Australia's first in 1957 - Institutes and their associated subscription libraries and provision of community halls and meeting rooms were important centres of activity. The first ones, sometimes called Mechanics Institutes, were established in the 1840s. Numbers peaked at 309 in 1933 and as late as 1980 there were still 136 of them, but today only a handful still function, having been superseded by over 130 public libraries.

Some of the more notable ones had very substantial buildings, a few of which were taken over by the local councils and became town halls. However, even the humblest of Institutes will generally have witnessed many entertainments, lectures, meetings, dances and film shows while also providing both light and serious reading to educate and sustain the residents of their district. The following information on three of the more notable institute buildings that are State Heritage Places gives a taste of what can be discovered.

The Institute Building on the corner of North Terrace and Kintore Avenue, Adelaide, is the oldest Institute building entered in the SA Heritage Register and the oldest cultural building on North Terrace. The Institute of the title refers to the South Australian Institute, established by Act of Parliament in 1856. In 1884 it became the Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery, a combined body, which 56 years later split into its component parts.

The southernmost half of the building is the original portion, and was occupied in 1860 and formally opened on 29 January 1861. Its south-western room was the public reading room and also doubled as a lecture hall. Upstairs, the long narrow space across the northern end of the original building was the first permanent home of the South Australian Institute Museum (now the SA Museum), Adelaide's first, which was established in 1856 and opened to the public in January 1862. The building itself was quite sophisticated, with a ventilation system within the walls and roof lights over the museum which could be covered by slides worked from inside.

The Gawler Institute was founded in October 1857 and moved into its own building in Murray Street in 1871. It remained there until 1985 when it was superseded by the Gawler Public Library, which still occupies the building.

Gawler's Institute was a particularly innovative body, sponsoring a national song competition which led to the composition of the Song of Australia (1859) and in 1860 a prize for the best history of South Australia which led Henry Hussey to compile a history of the then young Colony that was later adapted and used by Edwin Hodder in his two volume The History of South Australia from its foundation to the year of its jubilee: … (1893).

The Institute also established a museum (c1859) which appears to have been the Colony's first outside Adelaide. Its inaugural curator, Dr Richard Schomburgk, was later to be one of the more notable Directors of Adelaide's Botanic Gardens.

The Port Adelaide Institute was founded in 1859 at the third attempt. Its longtime home (1876-1959) survives on the north corner of Commercial Rd and Nile St. It incorporated reading rooms, a residence for the librarian, a book bindery, what is thought to be the second public art gallery in the Colony (1880), and one of the earliest museums (1872). As well as sustaining a substantial library, the Institute also organised lectures, classes and other educational activities. In 1900 it had the most subscribers of any Institute library outside of Adelaide. Its general museum became a nautical museum in 1933, and was believed to be the oldest such museum in Australia when it was absorbed into the SA Maritime Museum in the 1980s.

There are many other Institute buildings entered in State and local heritage registers. Local histories will generally provide a starting point for information about them, while Michael Talbot's A Chanceto Read: a History of the Institutes Movement in South Australia (Adelaide, 1992) provides a good overview of their achievements and the workings of the voluntary committees which ran them for so many years. Further information on those mentioned above can be found in EH Coombe History of Gawler, 1837 to 1908 (Gawler, 1910); GL Fischer 'Henry Hussey's "History of South Australia"', South Australiana vol. VIII no. 1 March 1969, pp17-24; FE Meleng Fifty Years of the Port Adelaide Institute... (Adelaide, 1902); M Page Port Adelaide and its Institute 1851-1979 (Adelaide, 1981) and C Bridge A Trunk Full of Books: History of the State Library of South Australia and its Forerunners (Adelaide, 1986).

Jetties and Landing Places

South Australia has a much larger number of jetties than most of the other Australian States, as the two gulfs put much farming land within easy reach of the sea. A large fleet of small coastal sailing vessels (mainly ketches) developed to service these landing places and carry cargo to the major ports. The surviving jetties of the Fleurieu Peninsula are reminders of the agricultural development of the area in the 1840s and 1850s. The jetties of Yorke Peninsula followed in the wake of its subdivision for agriculture from the mid-1860s. Several metropolitan jetties were built with shipping rather than recreation in mind, most notably the original jetties at Glenelg (1859), Semaphore (1860) and Largs (1882). Neville Collins The Jetties of South Australia: Past and Present (Woodside, 2005) is a useful reference.


Lighthouses perform a vital role in the guiding of vessels. The State's oldest, Cape Willoughby Lighthouse on Kangaroo Island, was completed in 1852 to mark Backstairs Passage, between the Island and the mainland, and was named Sturt's Light in honour of the noted explorer Captain Charles Sturt.

Many of the earlier lighthouses were built in direct response to shipwrecks in waters around Kangaroo Island, Yorke Peninsula and the South East coast. The technology of the lights themselves was generally based on lamps and mechanisms imported from England, but the lighthouse buildings illustrate various designs adapted to the particular environments in which they were built. Covering some of the most rugged and remote coasts of South Australia, lighthouses and their associated quarters and landings are a reminder of the difficulties faced by both the builders and the lighthouse keepers and their families.

After the Commonwealth took over the care and control of all Australian lighthouses in the first decades of the 20th century, lighthouse design became more standardised. More recently, with the advent of automatic lights and satellite navigation systems, many South Australian lighthouses have been de-manned.

Lighthouses open for public inspection include the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse, now located on shore at Kingston in the South East and managed by the Kingston Branch of the National Trust, and the former South Neptune Island Lighthouse, now located at Port Adelaide and forming part of the South Australian Maritime Museum. R.H. Parsons Lighthouses of South Australia (The author, 1997), Reid From Dusk To Dawn: a history of Australian Lighthouses (MacMillan 1980, John Ibbotson's Lighthouses of Australia: images from the end of an era (Australian Lighthouse Traders, 2001) and Lighthouses of Australia: a visitors guide (Australian Lighthouse Traders, 2003) are useful resources, as is the web site Lighthouses of Australia.


Lime Kilns

From ancient times to the early 20th century, processed limestone has played a vital role in the construction industry. The mortar of choice for brick or stone buildings, it was also used for stabilising floors, ground surfacing (including roads, paths and verandahs), and for rendering and finishing walls and ceilings. In fact, for most of the functions for which we now use concrete and cement

The early settlers in South Australia discovered various deposits of limestone scattered throughout the colony and soon constructed holes and small make-shift kilns with which to process the stone to create much-needed mortar. To create this mortar, chunks of limestone were layered and burnt in kilns to produce quicklime which, when slaked in water, formed a putty to be mixed with sand or aggregate to create a thick and durable product.

By 1863, there were at least 70 lime kilns dotted throughout the South Australian countryside. Few of these are known to survive. The earliest kilns recorded and listed in the SA Heritage Register are the lime kiln and dolomite quarry at Days Road Woodside (erected 'before 1871 - State Heritage Place (SHP) 12900) and the lime kilns at the Peake ruins near Oodnadatta (possibly dating from the 1860s - SHP 13624). Relics of a c1860s kiln also survive at the 'Farm Cottage and Outbuildings on O'Leary Rd, Mount Gambier (a local heritage place).

By 1876, at least 16 lime kilns were still in use employing 120 men. Ten years later, there were still at least 15 kilns with 77 men employed to run them. Other surviving kilns from the 19th-century include the lime kilns at Dingley Dell in the Flinders Ranges (SHP 11760); and the two kilns at the former Green farm, Monarto, from where lime was provided to construct many of the buildings in Murray Bridge.

In the early 20th century, the South Australian lime industry gained a new lease of life when a number of substantial kilns were constructed on Yorke Peninsula, an area which was to become the centre of South Australian lime production and export. The 1897 kiln at Stansbury (SHP 16680) is one of the largest and earliest, with the c1900 kilns at Edithburgh having a similar scale and high integrity. The most strikingly designed and best-preserved of the State's kilns is at Wool Bay at the foot of Yorke Peninsula (SHP 10112). Other fine kilns in the area include the crusher and kiln at Pt Vincent, and the open-topped kilns at Kulpara. More ruinous examples also survive at Minlaton (c1910) and near Port Vincent (all documented in the Heritage of the Yorke Peninsula, 1998).

Beyond Yorke Pensinsula, several other kilns were established during this period. Important surviving examples include the substantial and well-preserved kilns at Tailem Bend (c1908 - SHP 13808), and the smaller-scale set of three surviving kilns at Bower (c1920 - SHP 11024).

In 1914 there were still nine lime-processing factories in South Australia employing over 190 people. However, in the next few decades Portland cement gradually took over as the building material of choice, and eventually South Australia's lime kilns ceased production. The best-preserved examples of these kilns are significant for having provided building materials to their surrounding locality, region and/or for export, and for surviving to help tell the story of a once significant South Australian industry.

References include: P Donovan An Industrial History of South Australia (Working Paper 2, Department of Architecture, University of Adelaide, 1979), pp 2, 23, 41, 62, 63 & 74; AD Cowper 1927 Lime and lime mortars (Reprint for Building Research Establishment by Donhead, UK, 1998); South Australian Heritage Register and State Heritage Place files and photographs of working SA lime kilns accessed via the State Library of South Australia catalogue at http://www.catalog.slsa.sa.gov.au/search/X?SEARCH=lime+kilns.


Memorials are interesting for both who and what they commemorate and for the history of how they came to be erected. A useful list of memorials of State significance, which also includes a guide to sources, is South Australian Memorials 1802-1935. The web site War Memorials in Australia has detailed information on several hundred South Australian memorials, including photos and records of the inscriptions. The RSL's South Australian War Memorials site is also very useful. As well as these public memorials, there are of course thousands of others in the over 600 cemeteries scattered across the State. A list of statues and memorials in the City of Adelaide is at http://www.cityofadelaide.com.au/scripts/nc.dll?ADCCBRAND:STANDARD:1134224328:pc=PC_04_02

Especially useful recent publications are Simon Cameron's Silent Witnesses: Adelaides Statues and Monuments (Adelaide 1997) and F Paul Bulbeck's Some Plaques and Memorials of South Australia Volume 1 Adelaide (Adelaide 1998), Some Plaques and Memorials of South Australia Volume 2 Part 1 of Greater Adelaide (Adelaide 2000) and subsequent volumes. Biographies of the people commemorated by the plaques along the northern footpath of North Terrace, Adelaide, which were installed as a Jubilee 150 project, are detailed in John Healey (ed) SA's Greats (Kent Town 2001).


Copper mining was one of the Colony's major nineteenth century industries and literally put many towns on the map. Mr Greg Drew has produced pamphlets and booklets on several mining towns and sites which are retailed by PIRSA Minerals, 101 Grenfell Street, Adelaide. A bibliography of Australian mining history is maintained by the Australian Mining History Association.

The town of Kapunda owes its genesis to copper, which was discovered in 1842, publicized in 1843, and first mined in January 1844, signifying the start of Australias first significant copper mine. Although soon eclipsed by the mines at Burra, mining continued with some interruptions until 1878. Around 2000 people lived in the town by 1851 and the prosperous mining era left a legacy of impressive buildings.

The discovery of copper near the Burra Burra Creek in 1845 was one of the most significant events in the early history of the colony. What came to be called the 'Monster Mine' contributed enormous wealth to its owners and gave the Colony's depressed economy a significant boost. The several villages which became what is now officially called Burra boasted a population of 5000 in 1851, and was Australia's seventh largest town (and the biggest inland town) until the discovery of gold in Victoria and New South Wales led to its eclipse. The Burra State Heritage Area was designated in 1993.

Copper was discovered at Wallaroo and Moonta in 1859 and 1861 respectively, and the mines and the associated smelting works at Wallaroo were to remain in operation until 1923 and 1926. A massive smelters chimney, several engine and pump houses, and the towns of Moonta, Wallaroo and Kadina are a testament to the mines' importance. Each of the town's has a National Trust Museum, while the Moonta Mines State Heritage Area, was declared in 1984.

Cornish Enginehouses and Engines were a distinctive feature of the South Australian mining landscape. GJ Drew & JE Connell Cornish Beam Engines in South Australian Mines (Department of Mines and Energy, 1993) records that 'The first Cornish beam engine in South Australia was erected at Kapunda in 1848 and the last at Wallaroo Mine in 1888… Today, eight massive engine houses of the original 33 remain as monuments to our mining and engineering past and, at several locations, as tourist attractions for the future. (p10)

Drew and Connell's book is a richly detailed and copiously illustrated study. For a brief overview see JE Connell 'Cornish beam engines in early South Australian mining' in J Selby (ed) South Australias Mining Heritage (Adelaide, 1987), pp17-36.



In 1960 there were about ten museums in South Australia. Now there are around 200. The museum boom which began in the late 1960s and continues to this day has entailed much recycling of existing buildings, including many former public buildings. An incomplete list of South Australian museums is available through Collections Australia Network. The most significant colonial museums that are State Heritage Places are the Museum of Economic Botany (opened 1881) in the Adelaide Botanic Garden and the North Wing (opened 1895) of the South Australian Museum.

Former Institute buildings that once housed museums include the Port Adelaide Institute (1876; museum founded 1872) on the north corner of Commercial Rd and Nile St and the Gawler Institute (1872, museum founded c1859) in Murray St, which now serves as the Gawler Public Library.

Parks and Reserves (under the National Parks & Wildlife Act)

Parks and Reserves are generally established to protect the natural environment. Nevertheless, there are a considerable number of built heritage places within parks which are State Heritage Places entered in the South Australian Heritage Register. They are listed on ParksWeb.

In addition, Belair National Park is a State Heritage Area and Cleland Conservation Park is entered in the Register in its entirety. Belair is notable as South Australia's first national park (1891) and was the second in Australia after Royal National Park (1879) near Sydney. Cleland now contains two reserves dating from the nineteenth century, Mount Lofty Summit and Waterfall Gully, which are significant as long-established tourist attractions.

Place names

Place names are an often overlooked aspect of our heritage. Potential studies include the adoption of Aboriginal names, the borrowing of names from settlers' homelands and the abolition of German place names during the First World War. The most authoritative guide is GH Manning Manning's Place Names of South Australia from Aaron Creek to Zion Hill (Gould Books 2006) which is also available as a CD.

Place names can serve as reminders of now vanished features. Fulham was originally known as the Reedbeds, after the reedbeds through which the waters of the River Torrens found their way into the Port River before Breakout Creek was created (that occurred in the 1930s to divert the waters of the Torrens out to sea and thereby mitigate flooding). Similarly, the suburb of Black Forest once featured eucalypts with dark-coloured bark.

The names of streets and other features can also serve as clues to structures that no longer exist. Water Streets may indicate the presence of wells, there are many Church and Chapel Streets and Railway Terraces, while the Windmill Hotel on Main North Road, Prospect, was first licensed in 1843 when a nearby windmill served the farmers of the northern plains.

Occasionally there are deliberate associations of street names with their suburb's name. Flinders Park commemorates the explorer Matthew Flinders and many of its streets are named after other famous seamen. Hendon incorporates the site of a former aerodrome and some of its streets are named after famous makes of aircraft.

Ports and Harbours

Following the arrival of the first colonising vessels in South Australia in 1836, development of the new colony was largely dependent on the establishment of a safe harbour and port facilities which allowed the movement of vessels, cargoes and passengers from other Australian colonies and overseas. Port Adelaide was the result. As settlement spread, outports developed to service the transport and communication needs of local farmers and other settlers. Significant ports for the export trade included Port Augusta, Port Pirie and Port Germein. The River Murray developed as a major inland waterway from the 1850s, and river ports such as Goolwa, Mannum and Morgan were established.

As technological changes introduced more effective transportation systems, many of these ports have fallen into decline, but reminders of their maritime heritage are still evident in buildings, local museum collections, memorials and shipwrecks. Local histories are generally the most accessible sources for the history of the outports, supplemented by RH Parsons Southern Passages: a maritime history of South Australia (Wakefield Press 1986).

Railway Structures

Living in an age of air travel, it takes some effort to appreciate the significance of the advent of steam trains. However, the colonists at the time were under no illusion. The South Australian Register of 21 April 1856 reported at length on the many toasts and speeches at the opening of the Adelaide to Port Adelaide railway two days earlier. In the course of responding to a toast to his health, the Governor, Sir Richard MacDonnell, said:

Ladies and gentlemen, I feel that upon this the first day on which the iron horse has been sent through the land on his unwearying and useful mission, a new era has commenced. (Hear, [sic] and applause.) The locomotive is the peculiar invention of our age - that age which has achieved such great wonders. I therefore look upon it that South Australia has now given public evidence of having graduated as it were and taken her place among the civilized nations of the world. (Applause.)

Railways have been of immense significance to the development of the State. Early lines often linked ports with their hinterlands, and it was not until the 1880s that most country lines were connected to Adelaide. The Colony's first railway was the horse-powered Goolwa - Port Elliot line, built to connect the River Murray trade to an ocean port, which opened in 1854. The 1852 Railway Superintendent's House and the 1862 stables still stand at Goolwa. The first steam railway was the Adelaide - Port Adelaide line of 1856 and two of the original stations survive at Bowden and Alberton. The oldest country station building is at Kapunda (1860) and dates from the opening of the line from Adelaide via Gawler. The National (formerly Port Dock Station) Railway Museum at Port Adelaide is South Australia's major railway museum. There are also several other historic railway groups which maintain working railways, most notably SteamRanger and the Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society. The SteamRanger Links page provides a good guide to other groups.


For the early European settlers, sea transport was the life-line for South Australia's development, providing the only link back home and the principal means of transporting people and cargo around South Australia and the other Australian colonies.

With so many vessels either visiting or working in coastal and inland waters, it was inevitable that some would be unlucky. Around 750 vessels are known to have been wrecked in South Australian waters, with approximately 200 of these sites known and identified. The Australian National Shipwrecks Database and NatureMaps contain data on these.

The shipwrecks which lie in South Australian waters represent the types of vessels and many of the activities associated with the development of the colony. They range from international immigrant and cargo vessels to local service and fishing craft. The earliest recorded wreck was the South Australian at Encounter Bay in December 1837, while the earliest located wreck is the Solway, an immigrant vessel, also lost at Encounter Bay in December 1837.

Shipwrecks and shipwreck artefacts offer a fascinating glimpse into the past - each has a story to tell. The remains of vessels provide significant details about ship type and construction, while cargo and the possessions of crew and passengers provide insights into the social and technological history of the era.


Telegraph Offices

South Australia's first electric telegraph line linked Adelaide and Port Adelaide in November 1855. It was privately-owned and built by James Macgeorge, better known subsequently as an architect. Ironically, it opened on the very day that Charles Todd, accompanied by his new bride Alice, arrived in the Colony to take up his Government appointment as Observer and Superintendent of Electric Telegraphs.

Todd worked quickly. The government line from Adelaide to Port Adelaide opened in February 1856 and was soon extended to Semaphore, the focus of services for newly-arrived vessels. Macgeorge's private line proved uneconomic and was purchased by the Government and dismantled.

The original telegraph station buildings have been demolished, so the reminders of that service today are the former Telegraph Station (1868; State Heritage Place 10927) on North Parade, Port Adelaide, next to the former Customs House by the Lighthouse, and the former Post and Telegraph Office (1881; State Heritage Place 11767) at 15 Semaphore Road, opposite the Semaphore Library.

In contrast, some of the original stations of the Colony's and Australia's first inter-colonial telegraph line - which connected with Melbourne via Mount Gambier in July 1858 and to Sydney via Albury soon after - have survived. The five initial South Australian telegraph stations on that line were at Willunga, Port Elliot, Goolwa, Robe and Mount Gambier. The original buildings survive at 2 Mundy Tce, Robe (State Heritage Place 10361) and 62 High St, Willunga (State Heritage Place 10361 - both in private ownership) and at Goolwa, as part of the current Post Office building.

Other early telegraph station buildings that are State Heritage Places are at 59 Murray St, Gawler (now a National Trust Museum), 33 Gawler St, Mt Barker (now a dwelling), 2 St Vincent St, Auburn and 5 Market St, Burra (now an Art Gallery), which all date from around 1860. Hence the early history of telecommunications is well represented in the SA Heritage Register.

The Gawler and Robe stations were improbably linked by the Colony's worst shipping disaster, the wreck of the intercolonial steamship Admella on a reef near Cape Northumberland on 6 August 1859. The Robe and Mount Gambier operators kept the rest of the Colony abreast of developments. Two Gawler residents were among the 89 people who died during the eight days it took for the seas to be calm enough for a full-blown rescue to be attempted, and Dr Nott's 'Rise and Progress of Gawler', written the following year, records that crowds thronged round the office for days together, whilst every event of that melancholy catastrophe was flashed through the magic wires.

However, it's the Burra Telegraph Office that has perhaps the most interesting claim to fame, for it was from there on 16 December 1862 that John McDouall Stuart telegraphed to Adelaide the news that he had completed the first crossing of the continent from South to North. In turn, it was Stuarts explorations that paved the way for the construction of the overland telegraph line from Port Augusta to Darwin that connected Australia with England in 1872, for which Sir Charles Todd (1826-1910) is best remembered.

Todd was one of the most notable of South Australias colonial era public servants, serving as Postmaster-General for some 30 years. His story is engagingly told by his great-great-granddaughter Alice Thomson in her book The Singing Line, Chatto & Windus, London, 1999. The saga of the Overland Telegraph is detailed in Peter Taylor An End to Silence, Methuen Australia, Sydney, 1980.

Further reading: GE Loyau The Gawler Handbook, Goodfellow & Hele, Adelaide, 1880, facsimile edition, Austaprint, Hampstead Gardens, 1978. [Chapter one includes Dr Nott's history, originally published in 1860 in A General and Commercial Directory for Gawler and surrounding districts … ]; S Marsden Working Lines: a History of the Robe Electric Telegraph Station and Post Office, District Council of Robe, 1987; A Moyal Clear Across Australia: a History of Telecommunications, Nelson, Melbourne, 1984; SA Parliamentary Paper no. 164 of 1857-58 (Colonial and Intercolonial Telegraphs), M Walker The Post, Telegraph and Telephone Offices of South Australia and the Northern Territory (The author, Torrensville, 2004).

Time markers

The ability to know the time is taken for granted in modern South Australia. In the early decades of the Colony public clocks, bells and cannon fire played a significant role in marking the passage of time, and several State Heritage Places bear witness to this.

When no home could be found on a government building for what was intended to be the Colony's first town clock, in 1838 or 1839 it was placed in Holy Trinity Church (State Heritage Place 13357), North Terrace, Adelaide, where it has remained.

In the 1850s a howitzer at the Police Barracks (State Heritage Place 10872) off North Terrace, Adelaide was fired daily at 12 noon, but the practice ceased in the early 1860s.

The Port Adelaide Town Hall (1866 - State Heritage Place 10931), one of the Colony's earliest, had its original clock installed in 1867. In contrast, the Adelaide Town Hall, opened two months earlier, made do with painted clock faces in its Albert Tower until 1935! Presumably the proximity of the Post Office clock on the opposite side of King William St explains why a clock was not a priority. A clock had been installed in Adelaide's first permanent General Post Office building (1851) in 1854. That building was superseded by the present GPO in 1872 and a chiming clock was installed in the Victoria Tower in December 1875.

The following year the clock from the old Post Office (demolished to make way for the northern extension of the present GPO in 1891), was relocated to the Parkside Lunatic Asylum (now Glenside Hospital - State Heritage Place 16185), where it remains.

Timekeeping was also of vital importance to train travel, leading to the once ubiquitous railway clocks in major stations and, in the early years, bells being used to give a few minutes warning of a train's departure. The original (1856) station buildings constructed at Alberton (State Heritage Place 10934) and Bowden (State Heritage Place 10557) for the Colony's first steam-powered railway had chimneys which, as well as serving the fireplaces in the waiting rooms, incorporated belfries. The chimneys survive, but minus their belfries. Of course bells also have a long history of being used to summon church-goers to worship and school children to their classes.

Possibly the State's most interesting time-keeping structure is the Semaphore Timeball Tower (State Heritage Place 10930). It was in use 1875-1932 and is the only such tower in the State. It is a relic of the era before wireless telegraphy, when the accuracy of ships' chronometers - vital for accurate navigation - was checked by rating them against timeballs in major ports. The Semaphore timeball was dropped at a specific time each day by an electric impulse transmitted by landline from the Adelaide Observatory (now the site of Adelaide High School). There were once at least three other timeball structures in South Australia, in Port Pirie, Port Adelaide and Adelaide, but they were mounted on existing buildings.

Further reading: G. Davison The Unforgiving Minute: How Australia Learned to Tell the Time (OUP, Melbourne 1993); JD Keating Bells in Australia (MUP, Carlton, 1979); M & A Macfarlane John Watts: Australias forgotten architect 1814-1819 and South Australia's Postmaster General 1841-1861 (Sunbird Publications, Bonnells Bay, NSW, 1992), ch. 35; State Records Research Note 470 ('Trinity Church Clock'); Manning Index of South Australian History ('Clocks and Time') http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/manning/sa/misc/billy.htm#clocks

Tramway Structures

South Australia's first horse trams ran from Adelaide to Kensington in 1878 and Adelaide was the first Australian capital to develop a tramway system as opposed to isolated lines. Horse tram barns survive on Main North Road, Prospect and at 179 Magill Road, Maylands. The latter has been adapted as home units. Electric trams began to supersede horsepower in 1909 and remained a significant mode of transport until 1958, by when all but the Adelaide - Glenelg line had closed.

The most notable tramway-related structures included in the SA Heritage Register are the former Municipal Tramways Trust (MTT) Administration (Goodman) Building and Bay A of the adjacent Tram Barn on Hackney Road, Hackney (1908) and the former Converter Stations at 52-60 East Terrace, Adelaide (1908) and 19 Reedie Street, Henley Beach (1946 - now the Scout Heritage Centre), which converted alternating to direct current. The Tramway Museum at St Kilda, north of Adelaide, has good displays and a representative collection of tramcars operating on a few kilometres of track.

Further Reading: C.A. Andrews et al The Tramway Museum, St. Kilda, S.A. (Australian Electric Transport Museum (S.A.) Inc., Adelaide, 1982), J.C. Radcliffe and C.J.M. Steele Adelaide Road Passenger , 1836-1958 (Libraries Board of SA, Adelaide, 1974) and C Steele and R Wheaton Adelaide on the Move, 1878-1978: Public Transport in a Changing Scene (Australian Electric Traction Association, Sydney, 1978). There are also many booklets available on individual lines.

Whaling and Sealing

Whaling and Sealing were South Australia's first industries, predating formal colonisation in 1836. The sites and activities of whalers and sealers also represent the first European contact with Indigenous people in many instances.

Whaling and sealing are known to have been carried out at numerous bays, points, and offshore islands along the coast from the Head of the Bight to the Victorian border. These activities involved crews from America, England and France as well as Van Diemen's Land and local South Australian companies. The legacy of whaling and sealing includes stone structures, shipwrecks and artefacts such as bone, trypots, harpoons and household items. For further information refer to P Kostoglou & J McCarthy Whaling and Sealing Sites in South Australia, South Australian Maritime Archaeology Series No. 2. (Department of Environment and Planning, 1991) AIMA Special Publication No. 6.