History of Adelaide

Welcome to Adelaide

Originally called Tarntanya (red kangaroo place) by the Kaurna people, the original custodians of the land, Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia and was first settled by European free-settlers in 1836.

Surveyor Colonel William Light was charged with designing a city. The result was unique – the world's only city within a park, which it still is today. It truly is a city designed for life – set against the banks of the River Torrens, with wide, sweeping boulevards in a grid format, surrounded by 900 hectares of lush, green parks, known as the Park Lands

As Adelaide has grown into a thriving, charismatic city of approximately 1.3 million people, Light’s Vision continues today. It’s no wonder then, that Adelaide is consistently voted as one of the top 10 most liveable cities in the world by The Economist magazine.

A strong heritage

The Adelaide Plains are the traditional lands of the Kaurna people, stretching from Port Broughton down to Cape Jervis. Kaurna actively manage the land and live off the land and waterways of the region.

Kaurna is the language spoken, and as you move around the city today, you’ll see it used in many ways. The main square in the heart of the city is known as Victoria Square/ Tarntanyangga, reflecting the Kaurna name for the area - Tarntanyangga - which means Red Kangaroo dreaming. Similarly, the river is named River Torrens/Karrawirra Parri, reflecting the Kaurna name meaning Redgum Forest. All 29 parks and significant heritage sites across the city and Park Lands have been assigned a Kaurna name.

Kaurna art and culture

In addition to Kaurna, other Aboriginal language groups are represented in art and culture and are widely celebrated throughout Adelaide. A great way to discover it is through the Adelaide Kaurna Walking Trail (please note due to redevelopment in the Festival Theatre/Riverbank precinct, some attractions may be temporarily inaccessible or have been moved to protect the item).

Another example of Kaurna art is The Riverbank is a Kaurna Marketplace, by Kaurna Artist Paul Herzich and built in 2018.The artwork consists of a series of sandblasted images along Topham Mall. Drawn from Kaurna culture, this installation allows people to walk in the ancient footsteps of the Kaurna people between the river to the market.

Kaurna heritage

Heritage Places of Adelaide

Historical Trails

The Old Pubs of North Adelaide

Historical maps of Adelaide

Adelaide Kaurna trail

Old Buildings of Adelaide

Adelaide ghosts & ghouls walking tour

Heritage & folklore trail

On this spot!

The Adelaide Economic Development Agency acknowledges that we are meeting on 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. And we also extend that respect to other Aboriginal Language Groups and other First Nations.