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Our History

Our History

The City of Holdfast Bay has a rich history spanning thousands of years. Our collective history explores the stories of the traditional owners and custodians, the Kaurna People, European settlement and our coastal identities.

Kaurna Yarta

The City of Holdfast Bay acknowledges Kaurna people as the traditional owners and custodians of this land. We respect their spiritual relationship with country that has developed over thousands of years and the cultural heritage and beliefs that remain important to Kaurna people today.

Please follow the below link to learn more.

Colonisation of South Australia

watercolour of coastal landscape with flagmast

The Colony of South Australia was established in 1834 with the passing of the South Australia Act, land was offered for sale as early as 1835. The act was subsequently ratified in the Letters Patent by King William IV in 1836.

Between February and July 1836, nine ships set sail. The Duke of York was the first to arrive in the new colony, landing at Nepean Bay, Kangaroo Island on 27 July 1836. The remaining vessels joined the Duke of York throughout the remainder of the year. The new settlers remained at Kangaroo Island whilst Colonel Light surveyed the mainland to establish a capital. Once the survey was complete, the colonists made their way to what is now Glenelg between November and December of 1836.

Proclamation Day

The Old Gum Tree

The celebration of the founding of South Australia is held annually on the 28 December under the Old Gum Tree.

The proclamation was drafted aboard the HMS Buffalo and was printed by Robert Thomas using the Stanley Press which now resides in the History Trust of South Australia.

Upon arriving ashore at Glenelg on 28 December 1836, officeholders were sworn in by Robert Gouger in his tent. By 3pm the settlers gathered beneath a large gum tree to avoid the intense summer heat (reportedly above 38 degrees). Captain John Hindmarsh publicly proclaimed the establishment of Government and to celebrate, Marines from the Buffalo fired a royal salute to the British Flag followed by a 15-gun salute to the new Governor. The colonists then all gathered for lunch with a ham as the centrepiece.

Today, the City of Holdfast Bay works closely with the Kaurna Nation to focus on shared histories and truth-telling in commemorating Proclamation Day.

'Proclamation Day now brings us an opportunity that we - and our Aboriginal people and our Kaurna people - were never afforded

Kaurna Elder Jeffrey Newchurch, 2022

Building a City

Brighton Town Hall

The City of Holdfast Bay was formed in 1997 through the amalgamation of the city councils of Brighton and Glenelg. Both townships were established on Indigenous Kaurna land with the first European settlers arriving in 1836 in Glenelg. The Proclamation document was read on 28 December 1836.

The majority of land quickly became a rural farming area. Because of its sand hills and long sandy beaches, it also became a place for holiday houses built by wealthy professionals and notable people of the day. Glenelg became a municipality in 1855 and Brighton followed in 1858.

Post-war immigration changed the once rural seaside village into a town. From a settlement that started in tents and prefabricated huts, it developed into South Australia's premier seaside resort. With the advent of the railway and the car, the settlement grew quickly. Brighton became a popular day trip destination with people flocking to the beach. Many amusement facilities were developed and Jetty Road, Glenelg subsequently grew into a main shopping area.

Bay Discovery Centre