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South Australia

The wine growing regions of McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley were established in the 1840s. Port Pirie was founded in 1845.

Barossa Valley
Barossa Valley

Copper was discovered near Kapunda in 1842. In 1845 even larger deposits of copper were discovered at Burra which brought wealth to the Adelaide shopkeepers who invested in the mine. John Ridley invented a reaping machine in 1843 which changed farming methods throughout South Australia and the nation at large. By 1843, 93 km2 of land was growing wheat. Toward the end of the century South Australia would become known as the “granary of Australia”.

Gold discoveries in Victoria in 1851 brought a severe labor shortage in Adelaide which was created by the exodus of workers leaving to seek their fortunes on the goldfields. However, this also created high demand for South Australian wheat. The situation improved when prospectors returned with their gold finds.

During the 1850s over 5,400 hard working Germans settled in South Australia. Many started off the wine industry in the Barossa Valley and they opened the first Lutheran church in Hahndorf.

South Australians were keen to establish trade links with Victoria and New South Wales, but overland transport was too slow. A £4,000 prize was offered in 1850 by the South Australian government for the first two people to navigate the River Murray in an iron steamboat as far as its junction with the Darling River. In 1853 William Randell of Mannum and Francis Cadell of Adelaide, unintentionally making the attempt at the same time, raced each other to Swan Hill with Cadell coming in first.

By the mid 19th century, there was a strong desire for representative and responsible government in the colonies of Australia. In 1840, the Adelaide City Council was established as the first city council in the Australian colonies. The Australian Colonies Government Act [1850] was a landmark development which granted representative constitutions to New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania and the colonies enthusiastically set about writing constitutions which produced democratically progressive parliaments with the British monarch as the symbolic head of state. In 1850 and elections for legislative councils were held in the colonies of Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.

In 1855, limited self-government was granted by London to New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. An innovative secret ballot was introduced in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia in 1856, in which the government supplied voting paper containing the names of candidates and voters could select in private. This system was adopted around the world, becoming known as the “Australian Ballot“. 1855 also saw the granting of the right to vote to all male British subjects 21 years or over in South Australia.

In 1877, it became the first part of the British Empire to legalese Trade Unions and in 1891, four United Labor Party candidates were elected to Parliament, becoming the first endorsed Labor members in Australia.

Further copper discoveries were made in 1859 at Wallaroo and in 1861 at Moonta.

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