Bound for South Australia - Secret Ballot Voting and First Trade Unions

including the development of the Northern Territory

South Australia was created as a free province (with absolutely no convicts) by an Act of Parliament in London in 1834. It had its own governor, unconnected with Sydney. The plan was to have a number of wealthy potential wheat and livestock farmers and merchants pay for land orders in London that would allow them "first dibs" on choices of acreages in a new South Australian settlement. The sheep and other livestock were to be brought in from NSW, or, at first, Van Diemen's Land.

After commissions were paid, those monies then provided "free passage" for poor, but skilled, labourers in Britain. It was a bit similar to the £10 Poms scheme introduced by the Labour Government in Australia after World War 2. But this one was free.

The theory was these labourers would work in the province, earning wages, saving money to buy their own land. And to some degree, it was a very popular pitch, yes it worked.

Bound for South Australia (click here to hear this old 19th century sea shanty)

Two boats sailed from England in 1836 with about 500 settlers. Needless to say, it included many church-goers.

More boats followed, including one from Germany with a bunch of Lutheran farmers. Wine growing became very popular in the province.

The main settlement was named Adelaide after King William IV of England's wife. The free passage scheme lasted until 1840, when it ran out of money. In fact there was no other place in Australia quite like it.

And needless to say, it wasn't easy. Although the aboriginal people's rights and lands were protected by the Letters Patent attached to the 1834 Act, these provisions were many times ignored by the province's commissioners, governors and the South Australian Company. So, arguments and fights with the Aborigines, numerous internal disagreements, drought, all the problems to be expected with a new settlement. Sheep farming squatters settled on unused land, many of these became leaseholds.

And so the non-aboriginal population grew, 500 in 1836, 15000 in 1841, 64000 by 1851 then 86000 by 1855. Today, South Australia's population is 1,721,000 with 1,390,000 living in Adelaide.

At first there was just the governor in charge of the province, in 1842 a legislative council was set up, with three representatives from Britain, and four colonists who were appointed by the governor.

It was granted self-government, with an elected upper and lower house, in 1855.

Formation of the Northern Territory

Click here for a map of its boundaries.

Click here for a list of its administrators since 1863.

Back to South Australia

South Australia claims a lot of "firsts", or "firsts with others" in Wikipedia. See below.

** End of report