Tea Tree Gully

Tea Tree Gully is the name of a municipal council of 96 square km. and of a relatively small township. They are north east of Adelaide, the township 15 km. The area was first settled in 1837, and two years later land was surveyed and sold as farms for cereals, orchards and pasture.

Tea Tree Gully was originally called Steventon, John Stevens being a prominent landholder. However, the gully was a notable one, as it provided a gradient negotiable by bullock wagons travelling through the Mt. Lofty Ranges and it had permanent springs which promoted the growth of tea tree. The area was part of the Highercombe district council, and Tea Tree Gully became the name of a smaller Council in October, 1858, when Highercombe was split in two. When the two district councils were re-united in May, 1935, the new Council was named Tea Tree Gully.

The locality was entirely rural during the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth century. Extractive industries and viticulture predominated. The Australian Handbook’s description in 1904 was –


The census records through to the 1950s signify Tea Tree Gully district council’s rural environment – 1,014 (1911) and 2,561 (1954). As late as 1970 numerous vineyards remained around Tea Tree Gully township, and some of their names such as Modbury and St. Agnes have been given to later residential suburbs. Residential subdivisions grew apace from the late 1950s, and the Tea Tree Gully Plaza Shopping Centre was opened in 1970. Two years before, on 8th February, 1968, the municipality had been proclaimed a city. By the mid 1980s residential subdivision was well advanced. Twenty suburbs are situated in the council’s boundaries, including from south to north – Hope Valley, Highbury, Modbury, St. Agnes, Banksia Park, Modbury, Ridgehaven, Redwood Park, Wynn Vale, Yatala Vale, Fiarview Park and Golden Grove. Golden Grove is a recent residential area, a planned housing estate jointly developed by the private sector and the South Australian Land Commission.

In 1975 a new public library was opened next to the civic centre, and two Council recreation centres were opened in 1976. Tea Tree Gully’s access to central Adelaide was improved with the O-Bahn Busway in 1986.

Some of Tea Tree Gully’s hospital’s and schools in their short time since the 1960s have experienced peak usage for new-born and youth populations followed by declining usage for those purposes by the 1990s. Some older suburbs have experienced a population decline – Banksia Park and Tea Tree Gully – 12% , 1986-1991. The dormitory nature of Tea Tree Gully has been accompanied by the provision of recreational facilities, walking trails and playgrounds. The number of playgrounds is high, along with local parks and reserves. About two-thirds of the municipality is residential and in 1991 90% of houses were detached. Eighty-four percent of all houses were owned or were being purchased by the occupiers. All these figures exceeded the averages for metropolitan Adelaide. Secondary and extractive industries are zoned away from residential areas.

The census populations of Tea Tree Gully have been 1,014 (1911), 2,561 (1954), 5,887 (1961), 21,314 (1966), 36,708 (1971) 67,237 (1981) and 85,969 (1991).

Further Reading:

  • Auhl, Ian, From Settlement to City: A History of the District of Tea Tree Gully, 1836 – 1976, 1976 – 1993, Tea Tree Gully Council, 1993.
  • Taylor, Robyn, From Settlement to City: Tea Tree Gully 1976-1993, Golden Grove 1970-1993, Tea Tree Gully Council, 1992.

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