Important Dates in Mitcham's History

old mitcham planThe indigenous Kaurna (pronounced Garna) people had been living in harmony with the environment of the region for many thousands of years before the arrival of the first European settlers. Little record has however been kept of these early contacts.

Nevertheless the Mitcham area is significant from the earliest days of European settlement over 160 years ago.

A group of sailors jumping ship in 1837 led to the first settlement, a place of hiding in the hills around Coromandel Valley.

Three years later in 1840 Mitcham Village was established. Part of the Village is today a Historic Conservation Zone.

In 1853 Mitcham was proclaimed the first District Council in South Australia, the State itself being only some 17 years old at that time.

horse and cartA number of villages with main road frontages were becoming established across the district, along with mixed farms, hay paddocks, market gardens and later, towards the mid-north, vineyards and almond plantations.

Land subdivision for settlement began to build up momentum, and suburban living really took off in the 1880s, when horse-drawn tram services radiating out from Adelaide made it much easier for local residents to commute to Adelaide City for work.

In Mitcham itself the three largest employers around the turn of the century were the large estates, the local quarries, and the Council.

Mitcham Chronology 


Mitcham Plains surveyed into eighty 134 acre sections and European settlement began.


Mitcham Village offered for sale by the SA Company.


May 12 - SA Government Gazette published proclamation of the formation of the District Council of Mitcham.


Governor's summer residence building began at Government Farm, Belair (now Belair National Park).


Area between South Road and Sturt Creek transferred to the District Council of Brighton, later to become part of Marion in 1888.


Northern portion of the district broke away to form the Corporation of Unley.


Water supply laid to Mitcham from Brown Hill Creek and towards Adelaide.


Railway across the district opened - the biggest public works undertaken. Portion of the hills area transferred to the District Council of Crafers.


National Park Belair proclaimed, becoming the first public park in SA (after a decade of lobbying the Government) and the second such area set aside in Australia.


Edward Street between South and Goodwood Roads opened to give the residents of the Edwardstown Working Mens' Blocks easier access to Mitcham Village.


Telephone connected to the Mitcham Council office, which was then in part of the Institute Building on Princes Road.


Department of Agriculture opened its Experimental Orchard at Hawthorndene which operated until the early 1970s.


"Grange Farm", Mortlock's Estate, acquired for laying out a Garden Suburb, however it was first used as Mitcham Camp for embarkation of men during World War I. The suburb of Colonel Light Gardens was developed there during the 1920s and administrated under the Garden Commission Act until 1975.


"Craigburn" property near Coromandel Valley bought by Minda Inc.


Springfield promoted for prestige housing. Arboretum plantings at Waite Research Institute began.


Misses Symon began the first Nursery School in Australia at Lower Mitcham.  It took children between the age of 1 and 7 and continued until 1947.


Urrbrae Agriculture High School opened.


Present Mitcham Council Chambers built in art-deco style featuring the English Rose in the facade, recognising Mitcham's English connections. Architect was Dean Berry.


March 10 - Worst bush-fires devastated the hills of Mitcham burning at Blackwood, the Church of England, fruit cold store, Scout Hall and "Wittunga".


To celebrate the State Centenary, Councils of Mitcham, Unley and Marion, combined to establish Centennial Park Cemetery at Pasadena.


Daw Park Repatriation Hospital opened for ill returned soldiers.


Population great enough to for Council to qualify as a Corporation.


Mitcham becomes a "City".


"History of the City of Mitcham" written by Alderman WA Norman for the Council's centenary celebrations.


Blackwood and District Community Hospital established and opened by community fundraising.


"Watiparinga Flora Reserve" bequeathed by Miss Alison Ashby of "Wittunga" to the National Trust of SA. This was the first property acquired by the Trust and is managed by a Management Committee.


First University outside Adelaide opened at Bedford Park by the Queen Mother as  Flinders University.


Winn's Bakehouse at Coromandel Valley saved and a National Trust branch established to manage it as a the first public museum in the district.


"Birksgate", Urrbrae demolished and the property subdivided.


"Wittunga", Eden Hills a living garden of Australian and South African plants opened to the public having been established by Edwin Ashby who left it to the Botanical Gardens in 1965.


"Colebrook" home closed and demolished.


Community and council lobbied State Government successfully to prevent the dissolution of the City of Mitcham Council, the oldest District Council in South Australia.


Fountain of Tears sculpture unveiled in memory of the aboriginal children of "Colebrook Home" at Eden Hills site.


Council purchased Brown Hill to save it from development as part of the Hills Face Zone.


Colonel Light Gardens State Heritage listed.