A BRIEF HISTORY OF ADELAIDE:|
By Peter Wilkins
Adelaide was founded in 1836 with a proclamation under a gum tree at Glenelg, now a seaside suburb west of the city.
By November 1837 there were some 2,500 new settlers in the new colony, and by May 1841 nearly 2,000 buildings around Adelaide with a population of nearly 15,000.
The first governor, Governor Hindmarsh, left South Australia on 14th. July, 1838 and on August 19th. 1840, new Governor, John Gawler, and his Executive Council, passed the 'Municipal Council Act', paving the way for the election of a City Corporation, or Council.
On the 31st. of October 1840, elections were held. James Fisher was elected the first mayor from the 22 elected representatives, but the ill-fated council lasted little more than a year, and slid into oblivion due to a depressed economy, general lack of interest, and the autocratic attitude of another new governor, George Grey, who replaced Gawler in May 1841
The discovery of silver in the Adelaide Hills in 1841, and copper, near Kapunda in 1842, and a massive lode at Burra in 1845, saw the beginnings of a turn-around in the economy. Hard working German immigrants who settled at Hahndorf and in the Barossa Valley, were turning the soil to good use and there was an adequate supply of fresh fruit, vegetables, and dairy products. The discovery of gold in New South Wales in 1851, and in Victoria shortly after, affected the new colony in many ways. Firstly, there was a mass exodus of the male population to the goldfields. Some 20,000 men headed east to seek their fortune amid stories of gold nuggets the size of a mans hand lying around for the picking. Ballarat and Bathurst became the catch-cry, and the streets of Adelaide were often deserted. In his excellent book, 'Adelaide, A sense of difference', author Derek Whitelock reports
" For a period, the situation was critical, There were only three active men left in the town of Gawler. The Burra mine was forced to close as the Cornish miners decamped..."
Those who remained however, prospered. Demand from the goldfields for grain and other produce forced prices up, and the price of grain and basics soared. As miners returned flush with cash and gold from the diggings, business confidence returned and Adelaide's future was secure.
In 1845, Governor Grey was replaced by Major Frederick Robe. Grey went on to govern New Zealand and, although unpopular at first because of his autocratic and arbitrary attitude, was given a warm send-off by the citizens of Adelaide. He governed through a period of great difficulty for the fledgling colony, and, although luck had a fair bit to do with it, left Adelaide in a better condition to which he found it. Robe was unpopular and ineffectual, and was little missed after he left in 1848 to be replaced by Sir Henry Fox Young
It was under Governor Sir Henry Young that South Australia was to receive its first formal parliament.
In 1850 the Australian Colonies Government Act was passed in Whitehall. South Australia was to have its own government consisting of a Legislative Council to comprise twenty-four members, sixteen elected by the people, four officials, and four non-officials appointed by the governor. The new Council established its own constitution providing for the Legislative Council, and a lower house to be called the House of Assembly comprising thirty six members elected from different districts. The new constitution was approved in the British Parliament in 1856 and elections for the new parliament were held in 1857. Under the Constitution the absolute powers of the governor were also curbed, and the role would become more of a figure-head, a role which the office retains today.
Governor Young also set up, then abolished, the City Commission, comprising five nominated administrators, to allowed for the re-establishment of the City Corporation. On the 1st. of June, 1852, a new council of four aldermen and twelve councillors was formed. Fisher was again appointed Mayor, but later resigned to join the Legislative Council.
The founders of this fair city are remembered well in its place names and statuary. The most worthy are George Fife Angas, Colonel William Light, Edward Wakefield, James Fisher, Gawler, Hindmarsh, Grey, Henry Ayers and Young. Their hard work, expertise and foresight has made Adelaide one of the most beautiful and comfortable cities to live in in the world. Its citizens are proud and active, and look forward to increasing prosperity based on the solid foundations of their fore-fathers.
The Old Gum Tree at Glenelg
Replica of ' HMS Buffalo ' at Glenelg
Sturt's cottage 'The Grange' at Grange
Colonel Lights stature overlooking his creation on Montefiore Hill
Magnificent Edmund Wright House in King William Street
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