About 24,000BP (years before present)
The earliest dated signs of occupation by Indigenous People in South Australia, a flint quarry with Pleistocene rock art was located at Koonalda Cave, on the Nullabor Plain.
1802: Capt. Mathew Flinders on HMS Investigator visits Kangaroo Island and charts the coastline of South Australia
1829: Edward Gibbon Wakefield wrote a series of letters about systematic colonisation which were published in the London Morning Chronicle
1830: Captain Charles Sturt explored the Murray River and followed it to the sea
1831: Captain Collett Barker explored the Gulf of St. Vincent and climbed Mount Lofty
1834: Robert Gouger forms the South Australian Association
1834: The South Australian Colonisation Act received royal assent in Britain
1836: King William signed the Letters Patent establishing the Province of South Australia
1836: On the 28th December a ceremony was held, under a gum tree at Glenelg to proclaim the beginning of European settlement and the British colony of South Australia
1839: Dr Matthew Moorhouse appointed permanent Protector of Aborigines
1840: The first official census recorded 14,160 Europeans in South Australia: 6557 in the City of Adelaide, 1600 at the port and in the villages on the Adelaide Plains, and 5414 in rural areas
1841: About 2000 destitute persons were on government support
1841: Adelaide Hospital was founded with three wards, two male and one female. It could accommodate about thirty patients
1841: A Board of Pauper Lunatics was set up to find an alternative to keeping people with a mental illness in the Adelaide Goal. However, no one was prepared to take any responsibility and the colony was nearly bankrupt which restricted public expenditure, so nothing was done.
1842: The Maintenance Act was passed. The Act stated that it was the legal responsibility of the family to support any member who was destitute or sick. The government provided support only if it could be proved that there were no relatives to help. The Act became the legal basis for the social welfare action taken by the government.
1845: Many Aboriginal children were dying of European diseases
1846: The government rented a house with eight rooms and a small cottage at Parkside for people with a mental illness
1849: The Colonial Secretary invited leading members of church groups to form a Destitute Board to provide help to the needy
1851: The Adelaide Destitute Asylum was established to provide institutional care and control of women, children, the aged, destitute and the sick
1852: The Adelaide Lunatic Asylum was opened to care for the mentally ill. It provided far better facilities for the insane, but less than two years later it proved to be too small
1856: No Aboriginal people remained in Adelaide
1863: An Act was passed for the ‘regulation of the Destitute Asylum’ to better regulate the government’s aid to the destitute and sick. It also provided rules relating to the inmates’ behaviour in the asylum. However, the Act did not address the issue of eligibility for assistance
1865: William Townsend, politician and lay preacher discovered that there were 34 destitute blind people living in the State. He established a Public Committee comprising prominent citizens to raise funds to build an institution for the blind, deaf and dumb
1870: The Parkside Lunatic Asylum was opened to accommodate 700 patients
1872: William Townsend MP proposes the establishment of an asylum for blind and deaf persons
1874: The South Australian Institution for the Blind, Deaf and Dumb was established to provide refuge, education and boarding facilities. The Grace Darling Building and surrounding land, located in Brighton was leased and bought 2 years later
1876: Adelaide Children’s Hospital was founded
1878: The Home for Incurables was founded to care for those with an incurable and crippling disease
1878: Townsend House was built at a cost of £4,289 to house the South Australian Institution for the Blind, Deaf and Dumb
1882: The government recognised the need for professional full-time medical care at the Adelaide Destitute Asylum and allowed the appointment of a paid medical officer
1884: The Industrial School for the Blind was established in North Adelaide for adults who were blind
1884: Mr Hendry and Mr Goode join forces to form The Institution for the Blind. Its main activity initially was the production of baskets, brushes and mats
1894: Estcourt House opened as a home for aged and/or visually impaired patients and crippled children
1894: Kalyra opened as a sanatorium for the victims of tuberculosis (consumption).
1898: Minda was opened to provide a home for children with an intellectual disability. Prior to the establishment of Minda Home, children with intellectual disabilities were placed in the Parkside Lunatic Asylum
Bell, Maureen 2003. ‘From the 1870’s to the 1970’s: the changing face of public psychiatry in South Australia’. Australasian Psychiatry, vol. 11, Issue 1, pp.79-86.
Can do 4 kids: Townsend House. 2006. [online]. [Accessed 12 April 2007]. Available from World Wide Web:
Dickey, Brian 1986. Rations, residence, resources: A history of social welfare in South Australia since 1836. Netley: Wakefield Press.
Kwan, Elizabeth, 1987. Living in South Australia: A social history, Volume 1 From before 1836 to 1914. Netley: South Australian Government Printer
Gargett, Kathyrn & Marsden, Susan 1996. Adelaide: A Brief History. Adelaide: State History Centre, History Trust of South Australia
History Trust of South Australia. 2004. [online]. [Accessed 12 April 2007]. Available from World Wide Web:
Piddock, Susan 2004. ‘Possibilities and realities: South Australia’s asylums in the 19th century’. Australasian Psychiatry, vol. 12, Issue 2, pp.172-175.