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South Australia
Adelaide DougBarber.jpg
Looking south-east over Adelaide city centre c. 2005
Adelaide is located in Australia
Population: 1,262,940 (2011) ( 5th)
• Density: 659/km² (1,706.8/sq mi) (2006)
Established: 28 December 1836
Coordinates: Coordinates: 34°55′44″S 138°36′04″E
Area: 1826.9 km² (705.4 sq mi)
Time zone:

 • Summer ( DST)

ACST ( UTC+9:30)

ACDT ( UTC+10:30)

  • 729 km (453 mi) NW of Melbourne, Victoria
  • 1191 km (740 mi) West of Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
  • 1408 km (875 mi) West of Sydney, New South Wales
  • 1969 km (1,223 mi) SW of Brisbane, Queensland
  • 2700 km (1,678 mi) East of Perth, Western Australia
LGA: 18
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
22.1 °C
72 °F
12.1 °C
54 °F
545.3 mm
21.5 in

Adelaide (pron.: / ˈ æ d ə l d /) is the capital city of South Australia and the fifth-largest city in Australia. According to the 2011 census, Adelaide has a population of 1.23 million. The demonym "Adelaidean" is used in reference to the city and its residents. Adelaide is north of the Fleurieu Peninsula, on the Adelaide Plains between the Gulf St Vincent and the low-lying Mount Lofty Ranges which surround the city. Adelaide stretches 20 km (12 mi) from the coast to the foothills, and 90 km (56 mi) from Gawler at its northern extent to Sellicks Beach in the south.

Named in honour of Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, queen consort to King William IV, the city was founded in 1836 as the planned capital for a freely settled British province in Australia. Colonel William Light, one of Adelaide's founding fathers, designed the city and chose its location close to the River Torrens in the area originally inhabited by the Kaurna people. Light's design set out Adelaide in a grid layout, interspaced by wide boulevards and large public squares, and entirely surrounded by parkland. Early Adelaide was shaped by religious freedom and a commitment to political progressivism and civil liberties, which led to the moniker "City of Churches".

As South Australia's seat of government and commercial centre, Adelaide is the site of many governmental and financial institutions. Most of these are concentrated in the city centre along the cultural boulevard of North Terrace, King William Street and in various districts of the metropolitan area. Today, Adelaide is noted for its many festivals and sporting events, its food, wine and culture, its long beachfronts, and its large defence and manufacturing sectors. It ranks highly in terms of liveability, being listed in the Top 10 of The Economist's World's Most Liveable Cities index in 2010 and being ranked the most liveable city in Australia by the Property Council of Australia in 2011 and again in 2012.


Adelaide in 1839, looking south-east from North Terrace.
Intersection of North Terrace and King William Street viewed from Parliament House, 1938.
1888 Map of Adelaide, showing the gradual development of its urban layout

Before European settlement

Prior to its proclamation as a British settlement in 1836, the area around Adelaide was inhabited by the indigenous Kaurna Aboriginal nation (pronounced "Garner" or "Gowna").

19th century

South Australia was officially proclaimed as a new British colony on 28 December 1836, near The Old Gum Tree in what is now the suburb of Glenelg North. The event is commemorated in South Australia as Proclamation Day. The site of the colony's capital was surveyed and laid out by Colonel William Light, the first Surveyor-General of South Australia, through the design made by the architect George Strickland Kingston. In 1823, Light had fondly written of the Sicilian city of Catania: "The two principal streets cross each other at right angles in the square in the direction of north and south and east and west. They are wide and spacious and about a mile long", and this became the basis for the plan of Adelaide. Light chose, not without opposition, a site on rising ground close to the River Torrens, which was the chief early water supply for the fledgling colony. " Light's Vision", as it has been termed, has meant that the initial design of Adelaide required little modification as the settlement grew and prospered.

Adelaide was established as a planned colony of free immigrants, promising civil liberties and freedom from religious persecution, based upon the ideas of Edward Gibbon Wakefield. Wakefield had read accounts of Australian settlement while in prison in London for attempting to abduct an heiress, and realised that the eastern colonies suffered from a lack of available labour, due to the practice of giving land grants to all arrivals. Wakefield's idea was for the Government to survey and sell the land at a rate that would maintain land values high enough to be unaffordable for labourers and journeymen. Funds raised from the sale of land were to be used to bring out working class emigrants, who would have to work hard for the monied settlers to ever afford their own land. As a result of this policy, Adelaide does not share the convict settlement history of other Australian cities like Sydney, New South Wales; Brisbane, Queensland and Hobart, Tasmania.

As it was believed that in a colony of free settlers there would be little crime, no provision was made for a gaol in Colonel Light's 1837 plan. However, by mid-1837 the South Australian Register was warning of escaped convicts from New South Wales, and tenders for a temporary gaol were sought. Following a burglary, a murder, and two attempted murders in Adelaide during March 1838, Governor Hindmarsh created the South Australian Police Force (now named South Australia Police) in April 1838 under 21-year-old Henry Inman. The first Sheriff, Mr Samuel Smart, was wounded during a robbery, and on 2 May 1838 one of the offenders, Michael Magee, became the first person to be hanged in South Australia. William Baker Ashton was appointed Governor of the temporary goal in 1839, and in 1840 George Strickland Kingston was commissioned to design Adelaide's new Gaol. Construction of Adelaide Gaol commenced in 1841.

Adelaide's early history was wrought by economic uncertainty and incompetent leadership. The first governor of South Australia, John Hindmarsh, clashed frequently with others, in particular with the Resident Commissioner, James Hurtle Fisher. The rural area surrounding Adelaide was surveyed by Light in preparation to sell a total of over 405 km2 (156 sq mi) of land. Adelaide's early economy started to get on its feet in 1838 with the arrival of livestock from New South Wales and Tasmania. Wool production provided an early basis for the South Australian economy. Light's survey was completed in this period, and land was promptly offered for sale to early colonists. By 1860, wheat farms had been established from Encounter Bay in the south to Clare in the north.

Governor Gawler took over from Hindmarsh in late 1838 and, despite being under orders from the Select Committee on South Australia in Britain not to undertake any public works, promptly oversaw construction of a governor's house, the Adelaide Gaol, police barracks, a hospital, a customs house and a wharf at Port Adelaide. In addition, houses for public officials and missionaries, and outstations for police and surveyors were also constructed during Gawler's governorship. Adelaide had also become economically self-sufficient during this period, but at heavy cost: as a result of Gawler's public works the colony was heavily in debt and relied on bail-outs from London to stay afloat. Gawler was recalled and replaced by Governor Grey in 1841. Grey slashed public expenditure against heavy opposition, although its impact was negligible at this point: silver was discovered in Glen Osmond that year, agriculture was well underway, and other mines sprung up all over the state, aiding Adelaide's commercial development. The city exported meat, wool, wine, fruit and wheat by the time Grey left in 1845, contrasting with a low point in 1842 when one-third of Adelaide houses were abandoned.

Trade links with the rest of the Australian states were established with the Murray River being successfully navigated in 1853 by Francis Cadell, an Adelaide resident. South Australia became a self-governing colony in 1856 with the ratification of a new constitution by the British parliament. Secret ballots were introduced, and a bicameral parliament was elected on 9 March 1857, by which time 109,917 people lived in the province.

In 1860 the Thorndon Park reservoir was opened, finally providing an alternative water source to the now turbid River Torrens. In 1867 gas street lighting was implemented, the University of Adelaide was founded in 1874, the South Australian Art Gallery opened in 1881 and the Happy Valley Reservoir opened in 1896. In the 1890s Australia was affected by a severe economic depression, ending a hectic era of land booms and tumultuous expansionism. Financial institutions in Melbourne and banks in Sydney closed. The national fertility rate fell and immigration was reduced to a trickle. The value of South Australia's exports nearly halved. Drought and poor harvests from 1884 compounded the problems, with some families leaving for Western Australia. Adelaide was not as badly hit as the larger gold-rush cities of Sydney and Melbourne, and silver and lead discoveries at Broken Hill provided some relief. Only one year of deficit was recorded, but the price paid was retrenchments and lean public spending. Wine and copper were the only industries not to suffer a downturn.

20th century

King William Street, named in honour of King William IV, looking south from North Terrace in 2006 before the extension of the tram line.
Westpac House, Adelaide's tallest building at 132 metres (Australia's 112th tallest building).

Electric street lighting was introduced in 1900 and electric trams were transporting passengers in 1909. 28,000 men were sent to fight in World War I. Adelaide enjoyed a post-war boom but, with the return of droughts, entered the Great Depression of the 1930s, later returning to prosperity under strong government leadership. Secondary industries helped reduce the state's dependence on primary industries. World War II brought industrial stimulus and diversification to Adelaide under the Playford Government, which advocated Adelaide as a safe place for manufacturing due to its less vulnerable location. Seventy thousand men and women enlisted and shipbuilding was expanded at the nearby port of Whyalla.

The South Australian Government in this period built on former wartime manufacturing industries. International manufacturers like General Motors Holden and Chrysler made use of these factories around Adelaide, completing its transformation from an agricultural service centre to a 20th-century city. A pipeline from Mannum brought River Murray water to Adelaide in 1954 and an airport opened at West Beach in 1955. An assisted migration scheme brought 215,000 immigrants of many nationalities, mainly European, to South Australia between 1947 and 1973. Flinders University and the Flinders Medical Centre were established in the 1960s at Bedford Park, South of the City.

The Dunstan Governments of the 1970s saw something of an Adelaide 'cultural revival' – establishing a wide array of social reforms and overseeing the city becoming a centre of the arts, building upon the biennial " Adelaide Festival of Arts" which commenced in 1960. Adelaide hosted the Formula One Australian Grand Prix between 1985 and 1996 on a street circuit in the city's east parklands, before tough economic conditions due to the state bank collapse. The 1991 State Bank collapse plunged both Adelaide and South Australia into economic recession, and its effects lasted until 2004, when ratings agency Standard & Poor's reinstated South Australia's AAA credit rating. Recent years have seen the Clipsal 500 V8 Supercars race make use of sections of the former Formula One circuit. Adelaide's tallest building, built in 1988, was formerly known as the State Bank until the recession in 1991 and renamed the Santos Building up until 2006.

The Adelaide plain at night, viewed from Mount Lofty.


Adelaide's metropolitan area

Adelaide is north of the Fleurieu Peninsula, on the Adelaide Plains between the Gulf St Vincent and the low-lying Mount Lofty Ranges. The city stretches 20 km (12 mi) from the coast to the foothills, and 90 km (56 mi) from Gawler at its northern extent to Sellicks Beach in the south. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Adelaide Metropolitan Region has a total land area of 870 km2 (340 sq mi), and is at an average elevation of 50 metres (160 ft) above sea level. Mount Lofty is east of the Adelaide metropolitan region in the Adelaide Hills at an elevation of 727 metres (2,385 ft). It is the tallest point of the city and in the state south of Burra.

Much of Adelaide was bushland before British settlement, with some variation – sandhills, swamps and marshlands were prevalent around the coast. The loss of the sandhills to urban development had a particularly destructive affect on the coastline due to erosion. Where practical, the government has implemented programs to rebuild and vegetate sandhills at several of Adelaides beachside suburbs. Much of the original vegetation has been cleared with what is left to be found in reserves such as the Cleland Conservation Park and Belair National Park. A number of creeks and rivers flow through the Adelaide region. The largest are the Torrens and Onkaparinga catchments. Adelaide relies on its many reservoirs for water supply with the Happy Valley Reservoir supplying around 40% and the much larger Mount Bold Reservoir 10% of Adelaide's domestic requirements respectively.

Urban layout

A row of terrace houses at the east end of North Terrace.
The corner of North Terrace (right) and Pulteney Street (left), looking south-west from Bonython Hall.
King William Street, one of the widest main streets in an Australian capital city, viewed from Victoria Square.

Adelaide is a planned city, designed by the first surveyor-general of South Australia, Colonel William Light. His plan, now known as Light's Vision, arranged Adelaide in a grid, with five squares in the Adelaide city centre and a ring of parks, known as the Adelaide Parklands, surrounding it. Light's design was initially unpopular with the early settlers, as well as South Australia's first Governor, John Hindmarsh. Light persisted with his design against this initial opposition.

The benefits of Light's design are numerous; Adelaide has had wide multi-lane roads from its beginning, an easily navigable grid layout and a beautiful green ring around the city centre. There are two sets of ring roads in Adelaide that have resulted from the original design. The inner ring route ( A21) borders the parklands, and the outer route ( A3/ A13/ A16/ A17) completely bypasses the inner city via (in clockwise order) Grand Junction Road, Hampstead Road, Ascot Avenue, Portrush Road, Cross Road and South Road.

Suburban expansion has to some extent outgrown Light's original plan. Numerous former outlying villages and "country towns", and the satellite city of Elizabeth, have been enveloped by its suburban sprawl. Expanding developments in the Adelaide Hills region led to the construction of the South Eastern Freeway to cope with growth, which has subsequently led to new developments and further improvements to that transport corridor. Similarly, the booming development in Adelaide's South led to the construction of the Southern Expressway.

New roads are not the only transport infrastructure developed to cope with the urban growth. The O-Bahn Busway is an example of a unique solution to Tea Tree Gully's transport woes in the 1980s. The development of the nearby suburb of Golden Grove in the late 1980s is possibly an example of well-thought-out urban planning. The newer suburban areas as a whole, however, are not as integrated into the urban layout as much as older areas, and therefore place more stress on Adelaide's transportation system – although not on a level comparable with Melbourne or Sydney.

In the 1960s, a Metropolitan Adelaide Transport Study Plan was proposed in order to cater for the future growth of the city. The plan involved the construction of freeways, expressways and the upgrade of certain aspects of the public transport system. The then premier Steele Hall approved many parts of the plan and the government went as far as purchasing land for the project. The later Labor government elected under Don Dunstan shelved the plan, but allowed the purchased land to remain vacant, should the future need for freeways arise. In 1980, the Liberal party won government and premier David Tonkin committed his government to selling off the land acquired for the MATS plan ensuring that even when needs changed, the construction of most MATS-proposed freeways would be impractical. Some parts of this land have been used for transport, (e.g. the O-Bahn Busway and Southern Expressway), while most has been progressively subdivided for residential use.

In 2008, the SA Government announced plans for a network of transport-oriented developments across the Adelaide metropolitan area and purchased a 10 hectare industrial site at Bowden for $52.5 million as the first of these developments.


Adelaide has a warm Mediterranean climate ( Köppen climate classification Csa), where most of the rain falls in the winter months. Despite a warm Mediterranean climate, Adelaide receives enough annual precipitation to avoid Köppen's BSh (semi-arid climate) classification. Rainfall is unreliable, light and infrequent throughout summer. In contrast, the winter has fairly reliable rainfall with June being the wettest month of the year, averaging around 80 mm. Frosts are occasional, with the most notable occurrences having occurred in July 1908 and July 1982. Hail is also common in winter. Snowfall in the metropolitan area is uncommon, except for very light falls at Mount Lofty and some places in the Adelaide Hills, with the most recent occurrence being in October 2012.

Climate data for Continentaltown (Kent Town, 1981-2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 45.7
Average high °C (°F) 29.3
Average low °C (°F) 17.1
Record low °C (°F) 9.2
Rainfall mm (inches) 19.7
Avg. rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 2.9 2.0 3.5 5.1 8.8 11.3 12.0 12.1 9.0 6.7 4.7 4.4 82.5
Mean monthly sunshine hours 269.7 221.2 226.3 189.0 142.6 123.0 136.4 167.4 183.0 226.3 225.0 260.4 2,370.3
Source: Bureau of Meteorology


Parliament House, Adelaide on North Terrace houses the Parliament of South Australia.

Adelaide, as the capital of South Australia, is the seat of the Government of South Australia. As Adelaide is South Australia's capital and most populous city, the State Government co-operates extensively with the City of Adelaide. In 2006, the Ministry for the City of Adelaide was created to facilitate the state government's collaboration with the Adelaide City Council and the Lord Mayor to improve Adelaide's image. The state parliament's Capital City Committee is also involved in the governance of the City of Adelaide, being primarily concerned with the planning of Adelaide's urban development and growth.

Local governments

The Adelaide metropolitan area is divided between eighteen local government areas, including, at its centre, the City of Adelaide, which administers the Adelaide city centre, North Adelaide, and the surrounding Adelaide Parklands. It is the oldest municipal authority in Australia and was established in 1840, when Adelaide and Australia's first mayor, James Hurtle Fisher, was elected. From 1919 onwards, the City has had a Lord Mayor, the current being Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood.


Chinatown on Moonta St in the Market precinct.
Each dot represents 100 persons born in:
the UK (dark blue),
Greece (light blue),
China (red),
Italy (light green),
Germany (orange),
Lebanon (purple) and
Vietnam (yellow).
(Based on 2006 Census data.)

As of 2006 Census, Adelaide had a metropolitan population of more than 1,105,839, making it Australia's fifth largest city. In the 2002–03 period the population grew by 0.6%, while the national average was 1.2%. Some 70.3% of the population of South Australia are residents of the Adelaide metropolitan area, making South Australia one of the most centralised states.

Major areas of population growth in recent years were in outer suburbs such as Mawson Lakes and Golden Grove. Adelaide's inhabitants occupy 341,227 houses, 54,826 semi-detached, row terrace or town houses and 49,327 flats, units or apartments.

High socioeconomic areas include a number of the coastal suburbs, most of the inner north-eastern, eastern, south-eastern and inner southern suburbs, the Adelaide hills and North Adelaide. Almost a fifth (17.9%) of the population had university qualifications. The number of Adelaideans with vocational qualifications (such as tradespersons) fell from 62.1% of the labour force in the 1991 census to 52.4% in the 2001 census.

Overseas-born Adelaideans composed 23.7% (262,367) of the total population. The north-western suburbs (such as Woodville and Athol Park) and suburbs close to the CBD have a higher ratio of overseas-born residents. The five largest groups of overseas-born were from England (7.3%), Italy (1.9%), Scotland (1.0%), Vietnam (0.9%), and Greece (0.9%). The most-spoken languages other than English were Italian (3.0%), Greek (2.2%), Vietnamese (1.2%), Mandarin (0.8%), and Cantonese (0.7%).


The large number of churches in the city of Adelaide has led to it being known as The City of Churches. However, approximately 28% of the population expressed no religious affiliation in the 2011 Census, compared with the national average of 22.3%, making Adelaide one of the least religious cities in Australia. Over half of the population of Adelaide identifies as Christian, with the largest denominations being Catholic (21.3%), Anglican (12.6%), Uniting Church (7.6%) and Eastern Orthodox (3.5%).

Age structure

Overall, Adelaide is ageing more rapidly than other Australian capital cities. Just over a quarter (26.7%) of Adelaide's population is aged 55 years or older, in comparison to the national average of 24.3%. Adelaide has the lowest number of children (under-15-year-olds), which composed 17.8% of the population, compared to the national average of 19.8%.


Flinders Medical Centre. Health care and social assistance is the largest ABS defined employment sector in South Australia.
Adelaide Convention Centre, situated next to the River Torrens
The Adelaide-built Collins class submarine HMAS Rankin entering Pearl Harbour, August 2004.
1957 Dutch Colonial style home.
Adelaide's suburban residential areas are characterised by detached houses.

South Australia's largest employment sector is health care and social assistance, surpassing manufacturing in SA as the largest employer since 2006–07. In 2009–10, manufacturing in SA had average annual employment of 83,700 persons compared with 103,300 for health care and social assistance. Health care and social assistance represented nearly 13% of the state average annual employment.

The retail trade is the second largest employer in SA (2009–10), with 91,900 jobs, and 12 per cent of the state workforce.

Manufacturing, defence technology, high tech electronic systems and research, commodity export and corresponding service industries play a role in the SA economy. Almost half of all cars produced in Australia are made in Adelaide at the General Motors Holden plant in Elizabeth. Adelaide has over 40% of Australia's high-tech electronics industry which designs and produces electronic systems that are sold worldwide for applications in medical, communications, defence, automotive, food and wine processing and industrial sectors. The revenue of Adelaide's electronics industry has grown at over 15% per annum since 1990, and in 2010 exceeds A$5 billion. The electronics industry in Adelaide employs over 14,000 people or 17% of all manufacturing employment. The South Australian economy, very closely tied to Adelaide's, still enjoys a trade surplus and has higher per capita growth than Australia as a whole.

The collapse of the State Bank in 1992 resulted in large levels of state public debt (as much as A$4 billion). The collapse had meant that successive governments had enacted lean budgets, cutting spending, which had been a setback to the further economic development of the city and state. The debt has recently been reduced with the State Government once again receiving a AAA+ Credit Rating.

The global media conglomerate News Corporation was founded in and until 2004 incorporated in Adelaide and is still considered its 'spiritual' home by Rupert Murdoch. Australia's largest oil company, Santos, prominent South Australian brewery, Coopers, major national retailer Harris Scarfe and Australia's second largest listed investment company Argo Investments Limited call Adelaide their home.

Defence industry

Adelaide is home to a large proportion of Australia's defence industries, which contribute over A$1 billion to South Australia's Gross State Product. Seventy-two percent of Australian defence companies are in Adelaide. The principal government military research institution, the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, and other defence technology organisations such as BAE Systems Australia and Lockheed Martin Australia, are north of Salisbury and west of Elizabeth in an area now called "Edinburgh Parks", adjacent to RAAF Base Edinburgh.

Others, such as Saab Systems and Raytheon, are in or near Technology Park. The Australian Submarine Corporation, based in the industrial suburb of Osborne, was charged with constructing Australia's Collins class submarines and more recently the A$6 billion contract to construct the Royal Australian Navy's new air-warfare destroyers.

Employment statistics

There are 466,829 employed people in Adelaide, with 62.3% full-time and 35.1% part-time. In recent years there has been a growing trend towards part-time (which includes casual) employment, increasing from 11.6% of the workplace in 1991, to over a third today.

The median weekly individual income for people aged 15 years and over is $447 per week, compared with $466 nationally. The median family income is $1,137 per week, compared with $1,171 nationally. Adelaide's housing and living costs are substantially lower than that of other Australian cities, with housing being notably cheaper. The median Adelaide house price is half that of Sydney and two-thirds that of Melbourne. The three-month trend unemployment rate to March 2007 was 6.2%. The Northern suburbs' unemployment rate is disproportionately higher than the other regions of Adelaide at 8.3%, while the East and South are lower than the Adelaide average at 4.9% and 5.0% respectively.

House prices

Over the decade March 2001 – March 2010, Metropolitan Adelaide median house prices approximately tripled. (approx. 285% – approx. 11%p.a. compounding)
In the 5 years March 2007 – March 2012, prices increased by approx. 27% – approx. 5%p.a. compounding.

In summary:

March 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Median 140,000 170,000 200,000 250,000 270,000 280,000 300,000 360,000 350,000 400,000 400,000 380,000
% change 21% 18% 25% 8% 4% 7% 20% −3% 14% 0% -5%

All numbers approximate and rounded

Each quarter, The Real Estate Institute of South Australia (REISA) publishes a list of median house sale prices by suburb. Due to the small size of many of Adelaide's suburbs, the low volumes of sales in these suburbs, and (over time) the huge variations in the numbers of sales in a suburb in a quarter, statistical analysis of "the most expensive suburb" is unreliable; the suburbs appearing in the "top 10 most expensive suburbs this quarter" list is constantly varying. Quarterly Reports for the last two years can be found on the REISA website.

Education and research

Education forms an increasingly important part of the city's economy, with the South Australian Government and educational institutions attempting to position Adelaide as "Australia's education hub" and marketing it as a "Learning City." The number of international students studying in Adelaide has increased rapidly in recent years to 23,300, of which 2,380 are secondary school students. In addition to the city's existing institutions, foreign institutions have been attracted to set up campuses in order to increase its attractiveness as an education hub.

Primary and secondary education

At the level of primary and secondary education, there are two systems of school education. There is a public system operated by the South Australian Government and a private system of independent and Catholic schools. All schools provide education under the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) or, to a lesser extent, the International Baccalaureate (IB), with Adelaide having the highest number of IB schools in Australia.

Tertiary education

There are three public universities local to Adelaide, as well as three constituent colleges of three foreign universities. The Flinders University of South Australia, the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia are based in Adelaide and were all ranked within the world's top 400 universities in the Times Higher Education magazine in 2007. The historic Torrens Building in Victoria Square houses Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College Australia, Cranfield University's Defence College of Management and Technology, and University College London's School of Energy and Resources (Australia), and constitute the city's international university precinct.

The University of Adelaide, with 20,478 students, is Australia's third-oldest university, and a member of the leading " Group of Eight". It has five campuses throughout the state, including two in the city-centre, and also has a campus in Singapore. The University of South Australia, with 36,000 students, has two North Terrace campuses, three other campuses in the metropolitan area and campuses at Whyalla and Mount Gambier. The Flinders University of South Australia, with 16,237 students, is in the southern suburb of Bedford Park, alongside the Flinders Medical Centre, and also maintains a small city campus in Victoria Square.

There are also several South Australian TAFE (Technical and Further Education) campuses in the metropolitan area which provide a range of vocational education and training. The Adelaide College of the Arts, as a school of TAFE SA, provides nationally recognised training in both visual and performing arts.


In addition to the universities, Adelaide is home to a number of research institutes, including the Royal Institution of Australia, established in 2009 as a counterpart to the two hundred year-old Royal Institution of Great Britain. Many of the organisations involved in research tend to be geographically clustered throughout the Adelaide metropolitan area:

  • The east end of North Terrace: IMVS; Hanson Institute; RAH; National Wine Centre.
  • The Waite Research Precinct: SARDI Head Office and Plant Research Centre; AWRI; ACPFG; CSIRO research laboratories. SARDI also have establishments at Glenside and West Beach.
  • Edinburgh, South Australia: DSTO; BAE Systems (Australia); Lockheed Martin Australia Electronic Systems.
  • Technology Park ( Mawson Lakes): BAE Systems; Optus; Raytheon; Topcon; Lockheed Martin Australia Electronic Systems.
  • Research Park at Thebarton: businesses involved in materials engineering, biotechnology, environmental services, information technology, industrial design, laser/optics technology, health products, engineering services, radar systems, telecommunications and petroleum services.
  • Science Park (adjacent to Flinders University): Playford Capital.
The Mitchell Building, University of Adelaide, from North Terrace.
The Hawke Building, part of the UniSA, City West Campus.
The humanities faculty of Flinders University.


The Art Gallery of South Australia, and part of the South Australian Museum on North Terrace.
The Adelaide Convention Centre, the first of its kind in South Australia, is situated on the River Torrens.

While established as a British province, and very much English in terms of its culture, Adelaide attracted immigrants from other parts of Europe early on, including German and other European non-conformists escaping religious persecution. The first German Lutherans arrived in 1838 bringing with them the vine cuttings that they used to found the acclaimed wineries of the Barossa Valley.

After the Second World War, British, Italian, Greek, Dutch, Polish and other European immigrants settled in Adelaide. The conclusion of the Vietnam War in 1975 saw an influx of Indo-Chinese immigrants to Adelaide. See: Immigration history of Australia

Arts and entertainment

Adelaide's arts scene flourished in the 1960s and 1970s with the support of successive premiers of both major political parties. The renowned Adelaide Festival of Arts and Fringe Festival were established in 1960 under Thomas Playford. Construction of the Adelaide Festival Centre began under Steele Hall in 1970, and was completed under the subsequent government of Don Dunstan, who also established the South Australian Film Corporation and, in 1976, the State Opera of South Australia.

Over time, the Adelaide Festival has expanded to include the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Adelaide Film Festival, Adelaide Festival of Ideas, Adelaide Writers' Week, and WOMADelaide, all held predominately in the autumnal month of March (that month is sometimes jocularly called 'mad March' by locals due to the hectic clustering of these events). Other festivals include FEAST (a queer culture celebration), Tasting Australia (a biennial food and wine affair), and the Royal Adelaide Show (an annual agricultural show and state fair). There are also many international cultural fairs, most notably the German Schützenfest and Greek Glendi. Adelaide is also home to the Adelaide Christmas Pageant, the world's largest Christmas parade. As the state capital, Adelaide is also home to a great number of cultural institutions with many along the boulevard of North Terrace. The Art Gallery of South Australia, with around 35,000 works, holds Australia's second largest state-based collection.

Situated adjacent are the South Australian Museum and State Library of South Australia, while the Adelaide Botanic Garden, National Wine Centre and Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute are nearby in the East End of the city. In the back of the State Library lies the Migration Museum is Australia's oldest museum of its kind. Contemporary art scenes include the Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia. Adelaide Festival Centre, on the banks of the Torrens, is the focal point for much of the cultural activity in the city and home to the State Theatre Company of South Australia, with other venues including the Adelaide Entertainment Centre and the city's many smaller theatres, pubs and cabaret bars.

The music of Adelaide has produced various musical groups and individuals who have achieved both national and international fame. This includes the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, the Adelaide Youth Orchestra, rock bands: The Angels, Cold Chisel, The Superjesus, Wolf & Cub, Fire! Santa Rosa, Fire!, roots/blues group The Audreys, internationally acclaimed metal acts I Killed The Prom Queen and Double Dragon, popular Australian hip-hop outfit Hilltop Hoods, pop acts like Sia, Orianthi, Guy Sebastian, and Wes Carr, as well as internationally successful tribute act The Australian Pink Floyd Show.

Noted rocker Jimmy Barnes spent most of his youth in the northern suburb of Elizabeth. Paul Kelly grew up in Adelaide and was head prefect at Rostrevor College. The first Australian Idol winner, Guy Sebastian, hails from the north-eastern suburb of Golden Grove. American musician Ben Folds used to base himself in Adelaide when he was married to Australian Frally Hynes. Folds recorded a song about Adelaide before he moved away from the city. In addition to its own WOMADelaide, Adelaide attracts several touring music festivals, including Big Day Out, Creamfields, Future Music, Laneway, Parklife, Stereosonic and Summadayze

Adelaide also plays host to two of Australia's leading contemporary dance companies. The Australian Dance Theatre and Leigh Warren & Dancers contribute to state festivals and perform nationally and internationally. Restless Dance Theatre is also based in Adelaide and is nationally recognised for working with disabled and non-disabled dancers to use movement as a means of expression.

Concert venues

Adelaide pop-concert venues (past and present) include: Adelaide Entertainment Centre; Adelaide Festival Theatre; Adelaide Oval; Apollo Stadium; Memorial Drive Park; Thebarton Theatre. Other concert and live theatre venues include: Adelaide Town Hall; Dunstan Playhouse; Her Majesty's Theatre.



The main sports played professionally in Adelaide are Australian rules football, soccer, cricket, netball and basketball. Adelaide is the home of two Australian Football League teams: the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide Power, and one A-League soccer team, Adelaide United. A local Australian rules football league, the SANFL, is made up of nine teams from around Adelaide. The SANFL has been in operation since 1877 when it began as the South Australian Football Association (SAFL) before changing its name to the SANFL in 1907. The SANFL is the oldest surviving football league of any code played in Australia.

Adelaide has developed a strong culture of attracting crowds to major sporting events. Most large sporting events take place at either AAMI Stadium (the home base of the Adelaide Crows and also the Powers home game venue) or the historic Adelaide Oval, home of the Southern Redbacks cricket team. As it has since 1884, Adelaide Oval hosts an international cricket test every summer, along with a number of One Day International cricket matches. Memorial Drive Park, adjacent to the Adelaide Oval, used to host the Adelaide International, a major men's tennis tournament in the lead-up to the Australian Open before the tournament was moved to Brisbane in 2009. Adelaide's professional football team, Adelaide United, play in the A-League. Founded in 2003, their home ground is Hindmarsh Stadium, which has a capacity of 17,000 and is one of the few purpose-built soccer stadia in Australia.

For two years (1997 and 1998), Adelaide was represented in Australia's top level rugby league, this came after the New South Wales Rugby League had been playing a single game per season at the Adelaide Oval starting in 1991. The Adelaide Rams were formed and played in the breakaway Super League (SL) competition in 1997 before moving to the new National Rugby League in 1998. Initially playing at the Adelaide Oval, the club moved to Hindmarsh Stadium late in the 1998 season. As part of a deal with the NRL, the clubs owners News Limited (who were also owners of the SL) closed the club only weeks before the start of the 1999 season. In 2008 the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, a Sydney NRL club, and the South Australian Government announced a three-year contract in which the Sharks will play a single home game each season at Hindmarsh. Unfortunately this only happened for 2009. From 2010 the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs signed an agreement to play one home game per season at the Adelaide Oval for three years with the hope of establishing a strong supporter base in Adelaide.

Adelaide has two professional basketball teams, the men's team being the Adelaide 36ers who play in the NBL and the women's team, the Adelaide Lightning who play in the WNBL. The 36ers play their home games at the Adelaide Arena while the Lightning also play at the Adelaide Arena. Adelaide has a professional netball team, the Adelaide Thunderbirds, who play in the trans-Tasman netball competition, the ANZ Championship, with home games played at ETSA Park. The Thunderbirds also occasionally play games or finals at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, while international netball matches are usually played at either the Entertainment Centre or the Adelaide Arena.

Since 1999 Adelaide and its surrounding areas has hosted the Tour Down Under bicycle race, organised and directed by Adelaide based Mike Turtur (Turtur won an Olympic gold medal for Australia in the 4000m Team pursuit at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics). The Tour Down Under is the largest cycling event outside Europe and the was the first event outside Europe to be granted UCI ProTour status.

Adelaide maintains a franchise in the Australian Baseball League, the Adelaide Bite. They have been playing since 2009, and their home stadium is Coopers Stadium. Their name stems from the local Great Australian Bight, and from the abundance of local Great White Sharks.

The Australian Grand Prix for Formula One racing was hosted by Adelaide from 1985 to 1995 on the Adelaide Street Circuit which was laid out in the city's eastern parklands. The Grand Prix became a source of pride and losing the event to Melbourne in a surprise announcement in mid-1993 left a void that has since been filled with the highly successful Clipsal 500 for V8 Supercar racing, held on a modified version of the same street circuit. The Classic Adelaide, a rally of classic sporting vehicles, is also held in the city and its surrounds.

The World Solar Challenge race attracts teams from around the world, most of which are fielded by universities or corporations although some are fielded by high schools. The race has a 20-year history spanning nine races, with the inaugural event taking place in 1987. Adelaide will host the 2012 World Bowls Championships at Lockleys Bowling Club. Adelaide will become the third city in the world to have held the championships twice, having previously hosted the event in 1996.

360-degree panoramic view of the Southern Plaza of the Festival Theatre Centre.
(From left-to-right, starting SE):
Background: (SE): Government House, The Myer Centre, (S): Parliament House, Dame Roma Mitchell Building (SW): Adelaide Railway Station/Casino/Hyatt Hotel
Foreground: (SE): Southern Plaza, (S-to-W): City Sign
Background:(W-to-N): Adelaide Festival Centre: The Dunstan Playhouse, The Space Theatre, The outdoor amphitheatre, The Festival Theatre
Foreground:(W-to-N): Southern Plaza
Background:(N-to-NE): The Festival Theatre (northern) Plaza, (NE-to-E): Trees along King William Road
Foreground:(N-to-E): Stairs from Southern Plaza down to Festival Theatre Plaza, and Southern Plaza.



Adelaide's first hospital is the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH). Founded in 1840, it is one of the major hospitals in Adelaide and is a teaching hospital of the University of Adelaide. It has a capacity of 705 beds. Two other RAH campuses which specialise in specific patient services are in the suburbs of Adelaide – the Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre in Northfield, and the Glenside Campus Mental Health Service. Four other large hospitals in the Adelaide area are the Women's and Children's Hospital (305 beds), which is on King William Road in North Adelaide; the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (340 beds) in Woodville, the Flinders Medical Centre (580 beds), in Bedford Park and in the northern suburbs, and the Lyell McEwin Hospital (198 beds) in Elizabeth. These hospitals are also associated with medical schools. The Women's and Children's, the Queen Elizabeth and the Lyell McEwin are affiliated with the University of Adelaide, Flinders Medical Centre is affiliated Flinders University, and the Lyell McEwin is also affiliated with the University of South Australia.

In June 2007 the State Government announced a series of overhauls to the health sector that would see a new hospital constructed on railyards at the west end of the city, to replace the Royal Adelaide Hospital at the east end of the city. Should it go ahead, the new 800-bed hospital would cost A$1.7 bn and be named the "Marjorie Jackson-Nelson Hospital" after the former Governor of South Australia. However, in 2009, at the former governor's request, the state government chose to drop this name and instead transfer the Royal Adelaide Hospital name to the proposed facility.

In addition, major upgrades would see the Flinders Medical Centre become the primary centre for health care for the southern suburbs, while upgrades for the Lyell McEwin Hospital in Elizabeth would see that become the centre for the northern suburbs. The trio of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the Modbury Hospital and the Noarlunga Hospital would become specialist elective surgery centres. The Repatriation General Hospital would also expand its range of speciality areas beyond veterans' health to incorporate stroke, orthopaedic rehabilitation and aged care. With the "Global Financial Crisis" of 2008, it remains to be seen if and how these initiatives will proceed.


Tram at the former City West terminus of the Glenelg Tramline. The line has since been extended to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

Being centrally located on the Australian mainland, Adelaide forms a strategic transport hub for east-west and north-south routes. The city itself has a metropolitan-wide public transport system, which is managed by and known as the Adelaide Metro. The Adelaide Metro consists of a contracted bus system including the O-Bahn Busway, metropolitan railways, and the Adelaide- Glenelg Tram, which was extended as a metropolitan tram in 2010 through the city centre to the inner north-west suburb of Hindmarsh.

Road transport in Adelaide has historically been comparatively easier than many of the other Australian cities, with a well-defined city layout and wide multiple-lane roads from the beginning of its development. Historically, Adelaide was known as a "twenty-minute city", with commuters having been able to travel from metropolitan outskirts to the city proper in roughly twenty minutes. However, these roads are now often considered inadequate to cope with Adelaide's growing road traffic, and often experience traffic congestion.

The Adelaide metropolitan area has one freeway and three expressways. In order of construction, they are:

  • The South Eastern Freeway (colloquially referred to as the freeway), connects the south-east corner of the Adelaide Plain to the Adelaide Hills and beyond to Murray Bridge and Tailem Bend, where it then continues as National Highway 1 south-east to Melbourne.
  • The Southern Expressway (colloquially referred to as the SEXY), is an interchangeable one-way road connecting the outer southern suburbs with the inner southern suburbs and the city centre. It duplicates the route of the Main South Road, taking the peak traffic load into the city in the morning, and out of the city in the evening. In February 2010, the state government announced plans to upgrade the Southern Expressway to a dual direction expressway, if it was re-elected at the next State election.
  • The Port River Expressway (colloquially referred to as the PREXY), connects Port Adelaide and Outer Harbour to Port Wakefield Road at the northern "entrance" to the metropolitan area.
  • The Northern Expressway (colloquially referred to as the NEXY, formerly referred to as the Sturt Highway extension), is the northern suburbs bypass route connecting the Sturt Highway (National Highway 20) via the Gawler Bypass to the Port Wakefield Road at a point a few kilometres north of the Port River Expressway connection.

There are also plans for major upgrades to busy sections of South Road, including road widening, underpasses and overpasses. The underpass of Anzac Highway was completed in 2009. Further planned underpasses during the first stage of the project include Grange Road, Port Road, the Glenelg Tramline and the Outer Harbour railway line. An overpass between Regency Road and the Port River Expressway commenced construction in 2012.


The Adelaide metropolitan area has two commercial Airports, Adelaide and Parafield.

Adelaide Airport, in Adelaide's western suburbs, is designed to serve in excess of 6.3 million passengers annually. The dual international/domestic terminal named T1 incorporates glass aerobridges and has the ability to cater for the Airbus A380. The airport is designed to handle 27 aircraft simultaneously and is capable of processing 3,000 passengers per hour. Unusually for a major city, it is only 7 kilometres (4.4 mi) from the Adelaide city centre. The airport is serviced by five international airlines in addition to domestic, regional and charter operators, including Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Jetstar Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, QantasLink, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Australia. Adelaide airport currently has direct international flights servicing Auckland, Denpasar, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Singapore. In March 2007, Adelaide Airport was rated the world's second best airport in the 5–15 million passengers category at the Airports Council International (ACI) 2006 awards in Dubai.

Parafield Airport, Adelaide's second airport, 18 kilometres (11.2 mi) north of the CBD, is used for small aircraft, pilot training and recreational aviation purposes.


Aerial view of Happy Valley Reservoir in early 2007

Adelaide's energy requirements were originally met by the Adelaide Electric Supply Company, which was nationalised by the Playford government in 1946, becoming the Electricity Trust of South Australia (ETSA), now known as SA Power Networks. Despite significant public opposition and the Labor party's anti-privatisation stance which left the Liberal party one vote short of the numbers needed to pass the legislation, ETSA was privatised by the Olsen Government in 1999 by way of a 200-year lease for the distribution network and the outright purchase of ETSA Power by the Cheung Kong Holdings for $3.5 billion (11 times ETSA's annual earnings) after Labor MP Trevor Crothers resigned from the party and voted with the government. The electricity retail market was opened to competition in 2003 and although competition was expected to result in lower retail costs, prices increased by 23.7% in the market's first year. In 2004 the privatisation was deemed to be a failure with consumers paying 60% more for their power and with the state government estimated to lose $3 billion in power generation net income in the first ten years of privatisation. In 2012, the industry came under scrutiny for allegedly reducing supply by shutting down generators during periods of peak demand to force prices up. Increased media attention also revealed that in 2009 the state government had approved a 46% increase in retail prices to cover expected increases in the costs of generation while generation costs had in fact fallen 35% by 2012. These price increases and large subsides have led to South Australia paying the highest retail price for electricity in the world.

SA Power Networks now distributes electricity from transmission companies to end users. Privatisation led to competition from a variety of companies who now separately provide for the generation, transmission, distribution and retail sales of gas and electricity. Some of the major companies are: TRUenergy, which generates electricity; ElectraNet, which transmits electricity from the generators to the distribution network and AGL Energy, which retails gas and electricity. Substantial investment has been made in maintenance and reinforcement of the electricity supply network to provide continued reliability of supply.

Adelaide derives most of its electricity from a gas-fired plant operated by AGL Energy at Torrens Island, with more coming from power stations at Port Augusta and Pelican Point, and from connections to the national grid. Gas is mainly supplied from the Moomba Gas Processing Plant in the Cooper Basin, and is piped to Adelaide and other areas within the state. South Australia also generates 18% of its electricity from wind power, and has 51% of the installed capacity of wind generators in Australia.

Adelaide's water supply is gained from its reservoirs: Mount Bold, Happy Valley, Myponga, Millbrook, Hope Valley, Little Para and South Para. The yield from these reservoir catchments can be as little as 10% of the city's requirements in drought years and about 60% in average years. The remaining demand is met by the pumping of water from the River Murray. A sea water desalination plant capable of supplying half of Adelaide's water requirements (100GL per annum) is currently in construction and expected to be completed during 2012. The provision of water services is by the government-owned SA Water.

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