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Former gateway to Australia’s first sewerage system

Gladys Elphick Park / Narnungga (Park 25)

Did you know that Adelaide was the first city in Australia to have a deep drainage sewerage system?

photo-icon Thebarton Depot (Aerial View), June 1980, SA Water
photo-icon Thebarton Depot, 1917, SA Water

Known as the Thebarton Depot or Sewers Yard, this part of the Park Lands was used as the base for construction, maintenance and operation of Adelaide’s first sewerage system which was commissioned in 1881.

In the late nineteenth century, awareness was growing of the dangers of lack of sanitary ways to dispose of liquid waste. Until then, all waste was disposed of via the River Torrens, as was general practice at the time.

The sewer line was laid alongside the railway line at this site to Islington (6 km north of the City). Seen initially as a temporary storage solution, the Thebarton Depot was later used as a maintenance base for this sewer system until SA Water vacated the site in 2008.

This Park is part of the larger Park which stretches to West Terrace, known as Narnungga (Park 25). The Kaurna people are the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the Adelaide Plains and Narnungga is a word from the Kaurna language, meaning “native pine place”. The language was last spoken on a daily basis in the 1860s and has been revived in recent times.

City of Adelaide acknowledges the traditional Country of the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains and pays respect to Elders past and present. We recognise and respect their cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with the land. We acknowledge that they are of continuing importance to the Kaurna people living today. We also extend that respect to other Aboriginal Language Groups and other First Nations.

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