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Australian History

December 24, 1836 – Colonel William Light enthusiastically approves the site for Adelaide


Adelaide 1836

Adelaide 1836

Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia.

Although not the only Australian state to have been founded by free settlers, it is the only state to have remained entirely free of convicts during its history.

The site of Adelaide was originally determined by Captain Collet Barker.

Barker was sent by Governor Darling in April 1831 to explore southern Australia, following up on Charles Sturt’s discovery of the mouth of the Murray River.

Barker explored around the eastern side of Gulf St Vincent, climbed Mt Lofty, and selected a suitable port for the future city of Adelaide.

Late in April 1831, Barker arrived at the sandspit where the Murray River enters the Southern Ocean.

He elected to swim the channel, but disappeared after he reached the sandhills on the eastern side.

It was determined later, on the information of an Aboriginal woman, that Barker had been speared to death by Aborigines and his body thrown into the sea.

The city of Adelaide was subsequently surveyed and designed by Colonel William Light, first Surveyor-General of South Australia, who arrived in South Australia in 1836 to follow up on Barker’s expedition.

Light explored Encounter Bay and nearby regions until he discovered Port Adelaide which Barker had noted in his journals.

Towards the end of 1836, Light’s deputy, George Kingston, discovered what he described as a short river flowing from the Mt Lofty ranges to the coastal plains. This was to be named the Torrens River.

As a result of this discovery, Light approved the mouth of the river as the site for the settlement of Adelaide. On 24 December 1836 in his journal, he enthusiastically scribed:

“My first opinions with regard to this place became still more confirmed by this trip, having traversed over nearly six miles of a beautiful plat … affording an immense plain of level and advantageous ground for occupation … I was delighted with the appearance of the country …”

Colonel Light began surveying Adelaide on 11 January 1837, and completed his survey on 10 March 1837. He then commenced the task of naming streets and squares in the new town on 23 May 1837.

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

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