Skip to main content


Libraries Local Family History Sites

Historical Sites

Kaurna people

For thousands of years before European settlement, the Kaurna people lived in the area long the eastern shore of the Gulf of St Vincent. The extensive Adelaide Plain wetlands were a tremendous source of economic and spiritual wealth for the Kaurna people. The Salisbury area is home to many occupational and sacred sites associated with Kaurna, including the Greenfields Wetlands.

European settlement

In 1839 John Harvey, a Scottish immigrant, migrated to South Australia. In 1847 he bought land along the Little Para River and established a township. He named the settlement ‘Salisbury’ after the English city near where his wife was born. Many of the streets in Salisbury are named after John and his family.

Some of the sites and buildings of note around Salisbury include:

St Augustine's Roman Catholic Church

Commercial Road, Salisbury

The foundation stone was laid in 1851. Within a year the architect Walter Hunter and the builder Peter Walsh had died. Due to many problems and the Victorian gold rush the church was not completed until 1857.

Salisbury Police Station and Courthouse

Ann Street, Salisbury

After petitioning by John Harvey, a request for a permanent police presence in Salisbury was granted. The architect was E. A. Hamilton and the cost was 730 pounds. The building was opened in 1859. It consisted of the station and courthouse, cells, living quarters for the trooper and stables.

In the early 1990s it was opened as the Salisbury Cultural Centre, providing a meeting and display area for local groups. The Salisbury and District Historical Society has its permanent Folk Museum in several rooms of the centre. The building is heritage listed.

St John's Anglican Church

Cemetery, Rectory and Original Church, Mary Street, Salisbury

John Harvey transferred an acre of Section 2191 between Lots 82 and 85 over to the Bishop of Adelaide in November 1850. The "original" St John's has an uncertain date. Inscribed above the door is the date 1846. This date is often contested, as the land was not given to the church until 1850. An article from the "Old Colonist" in 1851 also talks about a building intended for worship but was not finished.

Due to the increasing size of the congregation, a new larger church was built, leaving the smaller building for other uses. The foundation stone was laid in 1858. It was not until May 1865 that St. John's was opened for worship.

The church contained several fine examples of Tiffany stained glass windows as well as several windows designed and manufactured in Adelaide. It was because of this, and the building's importance to the development and history of the area, it was heritage listed. In 1989 St Johns was gutted by fire. Since then an auditorium has been built connecting the church and the church hall.

Salisbury Institute

Wiltshire Street, Salisbury

During a meeting at the Commercial Bank of South Australia in 1883 a decision was made to build an institute for community activities. Prior to this the Assembly Hall at the Salisbury Hotel was used. Mr William Kelly of Gould's Creek provided the quarter acre lot of land. Mr F. W. Dancker was the architect. The builder, Mr G. Hudd, submitted a tender of 610 pounds. Money was raised through private subscription and Government subsidy.

The Institute was opened in 1884. Over time the Institute played host to dances, literary evenings, lantern slides, Salvation Army meetings, Glee Club and District Council meetings to name a few. One of the most important uses for the Institute relates to the housing of a library from the late 1880s.

Additions included the front porch and the bio-box. The bio-box above the entrance was used to house film projectors. This is a heritage-listed building, now part of Twelve25 Salisbury Youth Enterprise Centre.

Other places of note

For more information

Download an Adobe PDF copy of the Heritage Sites of Salisbury brochure.

Contact the Local History Officer by phone on (08) 8406 8207