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The Role of Government in the Formation of Country Towns in South Australia

This article was originally published in Terowie workshop: exploring the history of South Australian country towns (1991). The book was the aim and outcome of a collaboration between Susan Marsden, State Historian at the History Trust of South Australia, and University of Adelaide academic Tony Denholm, whose urban history teaching lacked publications on the development of non-metropolitan towns in Australia. Marsden and Denholm arranged a history workshop at the small town of Terowie in the State’s mid-north. Papers were presented by local, professional and academic historians together with contributions from the people of the district, who were active in preserving and promoting the heritage of their town. Other articles in Terowie workshop prepared by Professional Historians Association (SA) members included Peter Donovan, ‘’The influence of transport on the development of country towns’; Leith MacGillivray, ‘Whisky, wool and wheat – a brief examination of four towns of the lower South East of South Australia’; and Annely Aeuckens, ‘The German towns – the role of industry and commerce’. History SA is thanked for permission to reproduce this work.


Susan Marsden, ‘The role of government in the formation of country towns in South Australia’, AF Denholm, S Marsden and K Round (eds), Terowie workshop: exploring the history of South Australian country towns, University of Adelaide and History Trust of South Australia, Adelaide 1991, pp 38-51.

Dr Susan Marsden is a professional historian (and a founding member of the PHA) who runs her own consultancy business, writing commissioned histories, recording oral histories, carrying out heritage surveys and preparing other reports, talks and exhibitions. She has worked as South Australia’s State Historian, and as National Conservation Manager for the Australian Council of National Trusts in Canberra, and has been a member of both ACT and SA Heritage Authorities as well as national heritage committees She is presently a member of the State Records Council and of the SA Heritage Council’s Register Committee. She is author/co-author of many publications, those relating to South Australia’s history and heritage including Historical guidelines (SA Historic Preservation Plan); Heritage of the River Murray; Business, charity and sentiment: the SA Housing Trust 1936–1986; Heritage of the City of Adelaide; Our house: histories of Australian homes (Internet); Challenging times: the National Trust of South Australia 1955–2005; and Twentieth century heritage survey – stage 1 (1946-59) & stage 2 (1928-45).

Tags: Adelaide, Adelaide plan, Agricultural Areas, , Barmera, Broughton, Burra, colonial government, country towns, Crown Lands Department, depression (1890s), Depression (1930s), developmental works, drainage scheme, economic conditions, Eyre Peninsula, , , government (South Australia), government services, Goyder G.W. (Surveyor-General), , Jennings Reece, Kapunda, Kuitpo, land sale, local government, , marginal lands, Meinig D.W., Murray Mallee, non-metropolitan towns, Padthaway, Parkin Andrew, Parndana, , , Port Augusta, , Railways, Reade Charles (Town Planner), River Murray, Robe, secondary industry, , soil exhaustion, soldier settlement, South East, , , Surveyor-General’s Department, Terowie, , urban policy, village settlements, Wakefield Edward Gibbon, Waste Lands Amendment Act (Strangways Act) 1869, wheat farming, Whyalla, Williams Michael, Willunga, working class, Yorke Peninsula