The Kaurna people were the original inhabitants of the eastern
shores of Gulf St Vincent. Their territory included fertile
plains and rivers and an abundant coast. These same features
attracted the first European settlers.
European settlement brought with it a different relationship
to the land than that known by the Kaurna - the concept of
land as property that could be held in individual possession
and traded as a commodity.
An area of surveyed land covering Glenelg to Witton Bluff
(Christies Beach) known as District B, was made available
for settlement in 1838, with more land surveyed within District
C, covering Witton Bluff to Aldinga Bay, made available for
settlement one year later.
The district quickly became known as a fine wheat-growing
region up until the 1860's with the establishment of many
farmsteads. Inland at Clarendon, Coromandel Valley and Kangarilla
there was an emphasis on orchards, market gardens and timber
In 1840, the South Australian Company laid out the town of
Noarlunga while, in the same year, Edward Moore surveyed the
township of Willunga. The concentration of cereal crops to
the southwest of the district created a need for flour mills
with several townships including Noarlunga, Aldinga and Bellevue
(McLaren Vale) containing at least one. The flourishing of
the cereal and flour industry of the district throughout the
1850's resulted in the construction of jetties along the coast
at Port Willunga and Port Noarlunga to assist in the more
rapid transport of goods.
Bad land management practices and over farming reduced soil
quality resulting in poor yields throughout the 1860's. Revised
farming practices incorporated mixed farming, and industries
such as the booming slate quarrying industry at Willunga brought
other sources of income. The wine industry in particular came
to the fore with wineries at Clarendon, Morphett Vale, Reynella,
Happy Valley and McLaren Vale producing and exporting wine.
By the early twentieth century the district's wine making,
natural beauty and magnificent beaches enticed holiday makers
from Adelaide. Coastal townships of Port Noarlunga, Moana,
Port Willunga, Sellicks Beach and Aldinga became popular tourist
towns with tourism becoming a seasonal support for these communities.
Throughout the 1950s to 1970's the urbanisation of the district
began with the establishment of the Lonsdale industrial area
and residential subdivisions at Christies Beach, Morphett
Vale and Hackham. Throughout the 1980's and early 1990's residential
subdivision continued into the foothill areas of O'Halloran
Hill, Happy Valley, Flagstaff Hill and Woodcroft.
With slower population growth and Government policy now aimed
at limiting urban expansion and protecting prime agricultural
land, the rate of urban expansion is declining.
For a more detailed examination of the history of the land,
people and buildings within the City of Onkaparinga, please
visit the following links:
of Onkaparinga Community Profile" (text by Historical
Photos courtesy of the
Local Studies Collection of the City of Onkaparinga Libraries.