British settlement (1836)
The Proclamation of South Australia 1836
In February 1836 the John Pirie and the Duke of York set sail for South Australia. They were followed in March by the Cygnet and Lady Mary Pelham, in April by the Emma, in May by the Rapid (carrying Colonel Light) and then by the Africaine (carrying Robert Gouger) and Tam o’ Shanter. Most took supplies and settlers to Kangaroo Island on the present day site of Kingscote, to await official decisions on the location and administration of the new colony. By the time the Duke of York had arrived at Kangaroo Island, the HMS Buffalo (carrying Governor John Hindmarsh) was on its way.
Surveyor Colonel William Light, who had two months to complete his tasks, rejected locations for the new settlement such as Kangaroo Island, Port Lincoln and Encounter Bay. He was required to find a site with a harbour, arable land, fresh water, ready internal and external communications, building materials and drainage. Most of the settlers were moved from Kangaroo Island to Holdfast Bay the site of present-day site of Glenelg, with Governor Hindmarsh arriving on 28 December 1836 to proclaim the province of South Australia.
Light had to work quickly as the settlers were eager to take possession of the land they had purchased and grew impatient waiting. The salt water Port River was sighted and deemed to be a suitable harbour, however there was no fresh water available nearby. The River Torrens was discovered to the south of the Port River and northeast of Holdfast Bay, and Light and his team set about determining the city’s precise location and layout.
Light favoured a location on rising ground along the Torrens valley between the coast and hills which would be free of floodwaters. Governor Hindmarsh upon arrival initially approved of the location, but changed his mind thinking that the site should instead be two miles (3 km) closer to the harbour (an area unsuitable due to flooding). Other colonists thought Port Lincoln or Encounter Bay would be better sites. After much mud slinging, mainly directed towards Colonel William Light, a public meeting of landholders was called on 10 February 1837, where a vote was held resulting in 218 to 127 in Colonel William Light’s favour, settling the issue for the meantime.
The survey was completed on 11 March 1837, which was a considerable achievement given the time taken to complete comparable surveys. The city plan carefully fitted the topography of the area: the Torrens Valley was kept as parklands and town acres were planned on higher land to the north and south. Adelaide was divided into two districts north and south of the river with North Adelaide composed of 342 acres (1.4 km²) and Adelaide 700 acres (2.8 km2), surrounded by 2,300 acres (9 km²) set aside as park lands for recreation and public functions.
The grid pattern of Adelaide’s streets features a central square (Victoria Square) and four smaller squares (Hindmarsh, Hurtle, Light and Whitmore). North Adelaide features the lovely Wellington Square. Space for public buildings such as Government House, government stores, botanical gardens, hospital, cemetery and an aboriginal reserve were included within the parklands.