The City of Tea Tree Gully recognises this City's considerable natural and cultural heritage, including thousands of years of traditional ownership by the Kaurna people and the more recent contributions from all who live here. We build on this heritage today by respecting and listening to each other, being receptive to new ideas and acting wisely for the current and future well-being of our community.
The Kaurna people, as the traditional custodians, have a long relationship with the Tea Tree Gully area.
When the Province South Australia was proclaimed in 1836, the Kaurna population was thought to be around 500 with the first official report on population, by the Protector of Aborigines Matthew Moorhouse in 1841, noting a population of 650. It is believed that a smallpox outbreak had beaten Europeans to South Australia and that the number of Kaurna people had been substantially diminished as a result.
The establishment of European settlements in the greater Adelaide area was a major disruption to the Kaurna and the exposure to European diseases was a disaster. Kaurna access to their traditional lands was denied and the structure of their economy and society was severely damaged as a result. Many Kaurna people died as a result of a typhus breakout in Adelaide. The surviving Kaurna people were transported to Poonindie, near Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula, well outside Kaurna territory.
Few records survive that give us a sense of the Kaurna heritage of Tea Tree Gully. It is believed that one former camping and meeting place of the Kaurna people was by the Little Para, where the present Snake Gully Bridge is located, on One Tree Hill Road. Here there are permanent springs and waterholes.
Little trace of the Kaurna people is left today, however some place names in the district serve to remind us:
* The Little Para waterway and the suburbs of Para Hills and Para Vista are derived from Pari, the Kaurna word for water.
* The suburb Yatala Vale uses the Kaurna word, Yatala, which means water running by the side of the river.
The Tea Tree Gully Library Local History Service is conducting a large Aboriginal History Project. The project is multi-faceted and designed to be undertaken over a series of years. It will look at the very long Kaurna history of the area. We hope to identify sites in Tea Tree Gully that can improve our understanding of the way that the Kaurna people looked after Tea Tree Gully as well as elaborating on their social lives and customs. The project will also collect many individual histories of local Aboriginal people who continue to live in Tea Tree Gully.
The first Europeans may have settled as squatters in the Tea Tree Gully area as early as 1837, however it was not until the 1840s, after John Barton Hack officially surveyed the area, that formal villages and farms appeared. The settlement of Hope Valley was the first township to evolve in the district and was named by its founder, William Halden. He was inspired by hope for the township after its early buildings were destroyed by fire. Many settlers in the township were of German origin.
The earliest coherent group of buildings remains along the North East Road at Tea Tree Gully. The village settlement was formally named Steventon and was based around the springs supplying fresh water for travellers and residents. The village of Modbury was founded in 1857 as a direct result of the building of the official north Eastern Road. Its founder, Robert Symonds Kelly, contributed significant parcels of land for the establishment of the town.
The early settlers were predominantly agricultural folk who transformed the land of the district into a patchwork of orchards, paddocks and fields of cereal crops.
After some fourteen years of formal settlement the District Council of Highercombe was proclaimed on 14th July 1853. The council district comprised the area of the present City of Tea Tree Gully Council, the townships of Houghton and Paracombe and the area known as Highercombe. The District Council of Highercombe was one of the first council districts to be proclaimed in South Australia after the Act to appoint District Councils was proclaimed in November 1852.
The new Council, while it comprised an area of about 118 square kilometers, had no defined wards, although the Council itself consisted of five persons: Robert Milne of Dry Creek, Joseph Ind of Little Paradise, George McEwin of Glen Ewin, John Gollop of Highercombe and Henry Klopper of Hope Valley.
At the first meeting of the newly formed Council, which was held in the Bremen Hotel in Hope Valley, Robert Milne was elected Chairman. Five separate wards for the district were proclaimed in April 1858. However six months later the Council divided into prior to division of the Council area into two separate regions.
On the 7th of October 1858 the District Council of Highercombe was split into the District Council of Highercombe, comprising an area of 35 square kilometers with 120 ratepayers and the District Council of Tea Tree Gully with an area of 83 square kilometers and 176 ratepayers. The split was largely the result of the protestations of residents of the villages of Houghton and Hope Valley who were concerned that their rates were not being used to improve the line of road constructed by George Alexander Anstey (now Lower North East Road) which provided the townships of Houghton and Hope Valley with a direct route to Adelaide.
The question of identifying the main line of road for the District Council area of Highercombe, along which all traffic would pass, was debated heatedly during the 1840's and 1850's. The residents of the village of Steventon (now Tea Tree Gully) were equally adamant that the northeastern line of road (now the North East Road) adjacent to which their farms and businesses had been sited should be recognised as the main trade route.
The two District Councils, each of five wards, remained divided for 77 years until the 1st of May 1935 when both Councils were amalgamated. The depression of the 1930s as well as the increases in the cost of road maintenance imposed too great a burden for small councils such as the District Council of Highercombe to bear. In any case, the amalgamation was made compulsory.
The new amalgamated Council became known as the District Council of Tea Tree Gully and had very similar boundaries to the original District Council of Highercombe. Five wards, Highercombe, Tea Tree Gully, Torrens, Glen Ewin, and Modbury/Golden Grove had been proclaimed on 21st March 1935 and William Henry Ind, who was the Chairman of the District Council of Highercombe at the time of amalgamation, was chosen as the first Chairman of the new District Council and remained in the position until his retirement in 1943.
At the time of Ind's retirement and indeed up to the early 1950's, there had been a negligible increase in the population of the District of Tea Tree Gully. In 1855 a census revealed some 1,440 persons were resident in the District. In 1954 the population had only increased to 2,561. The district was still basically rural with the original townships of Tea Tree Gully, Houghton, Inglewood and Highercombe clearly identifiable and geographically remote from each other by virtue of vineyards and farmland.
The effects of the post-war baby boom were felt dramatically in Tea Tree Gully. The population of Tea Tree Gully expanded greatly through the 1960s and 70s. Much of the farmland and many of the almost all of the vineyards was aquired by the SA Land Corporation and converted into residential districts. So while the population had grown by a meagre 1,121 in the 99 years between 1855 and 1954, it had ballooned to 36,708 in just 17 years between 1954 and 1971. Tea Tree Gully has continued to grow as a suburban hub for the North East of Adelaide and its population currently stands at over 100,000.
From settlement to city: a history of the District of Tea Tree Gully 1836 - 1993 by Auhl, Ian (1993) Modbury South Australia.
Emigrants to Hahndorf. A Remarkable Voyage by Hahn, D.M (1989) (Translated from the German by Lee Kersten). Lutheran Publishing House, Adelaide.