Our history

Black and white photo of North East Road

The first people

The Kaurna people of the area lived by the Little Para River, camping near springs and waterholes, where Snake Gully bridge is now located on One Tree Hill Road. In 1836, there were approximately 500 Kaurna people living in the area.

The Kaurna people’s language is evident across the City of Tea Tree Gully. The Little Para River, Para Hills and Para Vista come from Kaurna word for water. A word which is found in the Aboriginal name ‘Karra-wirra-parri’ (River of the Red Gum forest). In Kaurna, Yatala means “running by the side of the river”.


Tea Tree Gully was originally that – a gully. With Tea Tree Gully’s fresh water supply, proximity to Adelaide and position at the entrance to the Adelaide foothills it became a popular spot for stockholding ‘squatters’ as early as 1837. The squatters were shepherds in charge of flocks of sheep and ‘overlanders’ watering and fattening up cattle before sale. The settlers that owned these sheep and cattle included Osmond Gilles, Charles Bonney and George Anstey.

Anstey Hill is named after George Anstey. Gilles Plains and OG Road are named after Osmond Gilles.

Tea Tree Gully settlement occurred in 1839 after John Barton Hack called for a 15,000-acre survey of the area which includes today’s Houghton and Inglewood. The survey of the boundary was conducted on 28 January 1839 by George Ormsby, making it an official settlement.

Steventon - Tea Tree Gully

Prior to being known as Tea Tree Gully, the area was named Steventon, after Adelaide miller John Stevens. Steventon grew in the 1850s after John Stevens acquired a large piece of land and subdivided it. After 1900, the name Steventon was no longer used officially and Tea Tree Gully became the town’s name.


The village of Modbury was established in 1857. The name Modbury stems from the Saxon 'Moot Burgh' meaning a meeting place. Markets have long been held in the area now known for Civic Park and Westfield Tea Tree Plaza.

Tea Tree Gully (the rest of the City) is the ‘pockets of villages’ surrounded by Red Gum Forest, and Modbury is the meeting place.

No matter where you live within the City of Tea Tree Gully, you can travel along a creek to get to Modbury, as the majority of them converge in this central location.

Tea Trees

Native tea trees once grew up to 12 feet high in the local gullies. Settlers used the leaves from the tea tree to make tea, and the wood was used for fencing in the swampy areas. Today, there are very few wild white flowering tea trees left.

Key dates

  • 1841 – First village - Houghton, laid out
  • 1855 – Council Chambers built at Steventon - Tea Tree Gully
  • 1954 – Population of Tea Tree Gully district reaches 2561
  • 1967 - A Civic Centre comprising a Council chamber and Civic hall opens
  • February 1968 - the District of Tea Tree Gully was proclaimed a city
  • September 1970 –Tea Tree Plaza opens
  • February 1973 – Modbury hospital opens
  • 1982 – Construction of the track for the O-Bahn begins
  • 1989 – Anstey’s Hill declared a recreation park
  • 1993 – Golden Grove Recreation and Arts Centre opens.