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History of SA Councils

South Australia's earliest citizens began agitating to be able to make decisions locally within the first 4 years of the colony. Adelaide City Council became the first municipality in Australia in 1840 following a petition of residents seeking the "rights and privileges" of their own Council (ACC history). 

From that point onwards, the history of Councils in SA mirrors that of the development of the State as they attended to the primary economic needs of colonists - roads and markets to ensure food and export opportunities and subsequently sanitation and other requirements to support their health, welfare and economic prosperity.

A history of the institutions established, disolved and merged is not always easy to find. This web page has been established to point to some of the most common resources and to publish a new resource: "A History of South Australian Councils to 1936"

History of SA Councils - To 1936


In April 2010, the General Meeting of the Local Government Association of South Australia resolved to develop a history of South Australian councils, to ensure that their existence and their contribution to the development of the State would continue to be recognised. As the histories of many councils are documented in The Civic Record of 1921-1923, The Centenary Civic Record of 1936 and The Jubilee Civic Record of 1986, the Association decided to produce a history of councils which were formed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries but ceased to exist before 1921 or 1936, and were not included (or not as councils in their own right) in those Civic Records.

In 2011-2012 the Local Government Association commissioned historian Dr Susan Marsden to identify those councils, and to research and write summary histories of them. These council histories are set out as Part One and Part Two of the document attached below. The assistance of the Local Government Research & Development Scheme in producing this document is gratefully acknowledged.

A History of South Australian Councils to 1936 History%20of%20Councils (849 kb)


History of SA Councils - Other Reference Material/Publications

The Civic Record 1986, records information regarding every Council in existence at the time of the State's Jubilee 150 in 1986. It is available in most SA Public Libraries.

The Civic Record 1936, was produced in the State's Centenary year and can be found in the State Library of SA. The Civic Record 1921-24, can also be found in the State Library of SA.

Many Councils have published their own histories at various times and can generally be found via local libraries or by contacting the Council concerned.

Information regarding Susan Grace Benny, Australia's first woman politician can be found here: Susan Grace Benny.

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