1. Adelaide Festival of the Arts

    This festival is widely recognised as one of the great international arts festivals, while its accompanying Writers’ Week is the largest literary event of its kind.


    Historical Event | By Lance Campbell | 1960s, 1970s, 1990s, 2000-2010

  2. Armistice Day 1918

    Huge crowds gathered on the streets of Adelaide on 11 November 1918 to celebrate the armistice of the First World War.

    Historical Event | By Corinne Ball, Migration Museum | North Terrace | 1910s

  3. Beef Riot

    In January 1931, during the Great Depression, more than 1000 unemployed men clashed with police in protest at the replacement of beef with mutton on their ration tickets

    Historical Event | By Corinne Ball, Migration Museum | North Terrace, Southwest corner | 1930s

  4. Boer War

    The Boer War was the first war in which South Australians fought overseas.

    Historical Event | By Jude Elton & Catherine Manning, History Trust of South Australia

  5. Centenary Celebrations 1936

    From sporting events to flower festivals and patriotic displays presented by thousands of children, South Australia's Centenary Celebrations emphasised the positive.

    Historical Event | By Margaret Anderson, History Trust of South Australia | 1930s

  6. Christmas Pageant

    One of the largest pageants in the world, come one, come all to Adelaide’s famous Christmas Pageant!

    Historical Event | By Anne Burrows | North Terrace | 1930s, late twentieth century, mid twentieth century

  7. Duncan Case

    George Ian Ogilvie Duncan, a lecturer in law at the University of Adelaide, drowned on 10 May after being thrown into the River Torrens. Rumours spread that officers from the vice squad engaged in ‘poofter bashing’ had killed Duncan.

    Historical Event | By Tim Reeves | River Torrens | 1970s, 1980s, 1990s

  8. Federation

    Throughout the 1890s South Australia was at the forefront of the Federation movement that created the Commonwealth of Australia from six British colonies.

    Historical Event | By John Bannon | early twentieth century, late nineteenth century, mid nineteenth century

  9. First aerial ascent

    American aeronaut Thomas Gale made South Australia’s first successful aerial ascent in June 1871

    Historical Event | By Corinne Ball, Migration Museum | North Terrace | 1870s

  10. First World War

    The tragedy of war was compounded by disturbance on the homefront in wartime and post-war reconstruction activities.

    Historical Event | By Wilfrid Prest, Kerrie Round & Carol Fort | 1910s, 1920s, 1930s

  11. Flower Day

    Every year between 1938 and 1975 Adelaidians showed pride in their city by beautifying it with mass displays of flowers on National Flower Day.

    Historical Event | By John Davis | North Terrace | 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s

  12. Henley-on-Torrens Regatta

    In 1910 thousands of people lined the Torrens to see the carnival of lavishly decorated boats in the first Henley-on-Torrens Regatta

    Historical Event | By Corinne Ball, Migration Museum | Parklands, River Torrens | 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000-2010, 2010s

  13. Hindley Street riot

    Violence and election irregularities marred the process when, in 1855, South Australians got their first chance to elect politicians drawn from, and responsible to, the people.

    Historical Event | By Corinne Ball, Migration Museum | Hindley Street | 1850s

  14. Islamic Festivals in 1890s Adelaide

    The Adelaide Mosque, the oldest in Australia, has been the centre of Islamic festivals since the 1890s

    Historical Event | By Jude Elton, History Trust of South Australia | Southwest corner | 1890s

  15. Proud Parade

    Adelaide’s very first Gay Pride March took place on Saturday 15 September 1973. 

    Historical Event | By Will Sergeant | Central Market, River Torrens, Rundle Mall, Rundle Street east | 1970s

  16. The first reading of the proclamation

    The December 1836 proclamation at Holdfast Bay is South Australia’s best known historical event, despite it often being misunderstood

    Historical Event | By Margaret Anderson, History Trust of South Australia | 1830s

  17. The Great Stuart Demonstration

    'A red letter day in the calendar of South Australia': welcoming home heroes

    Historical Event | By Mandy Paul, History Trust of South Australia | 1860s

  18. The opening of Parliament 1857

    Crowds gathered on 22 April 1857 to watch Governor Sir Richard Graves MacDonnell open South Australia’s first fully elected parliament.

    Historical Event | By Mandy Paul, History Trust of South Australia | North Terrace | 1850s

  19. Vietnam War

    The Vietnam War had a significant impact on South Australian political life, and the course and character of opposition aroused by the war and conscription for it were different in Adelaide than in other capital cities.

    Historical Event | By Malcolm Saunders | late twentieth century, mid twentieth century

  20. Violet Day

    Before the poppy became the recognised flower for war memorials the violet, in South Australia, was the 'symbol of perpetual remembrance'.

    Historical Event | By Catherine Manning, History Trust of South Australia | 1910s, 1920s

  21. Wattle Day

    1 September in Australia is Wattle Day, though not widely known, some have argued it should replace Australia Day.

    Historical Event | By Catherine Manning, History Trust of South Australia | 1830s, 1900-1910, 1910s, early twentieth century, early twenty–first century, late twentieth century, mid twentieth century

  22. Writers' Week

    Australia’s oldest and most prestigious literary festival began in 1960 as part of the first Adelaide Festival of Arts.

    Organised by a committee headed by state librarian Hedley Brideson, in conjunction with the Fellowship of Australian Writers (SA), it aimed to provide a forum for the country’s far-flung scribes. Members of the public soon outnumbered writers at sessions, especially when the guest list expanded to include famous names like the fiery young Russian poet Yevgeni Yevtushenko in 1966, and Anthony Burgess, Edna O’Brien, John Updike and Alan Ginsberg in the early 1970s.

    Writers’ Week succeeded because of its capacity to adapt. When the University of Adelaide and the State Library could no longer accommodate the crowds, the event transferred in 1976 to a marquee in the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Gardens behind Government House. Writers’ Week immediately became visible, accessible, and egalitarian. Audiences revelled in the picnic atmosphere, and publishers recognised the commercial opportunities. In 1986 a second tent was added to provide parallel sessions, and a fringe sprang into vigorous life.

    The appeal of Writers’ Week is not hard to understand: it is relaxed, informal, and well-organised; free tent sessions provide diverse and stimulating debates; there is easy access to some of the world’s greatest writers; and Adelaide’s weather is usually at its best. Writers’ Week brings together readers and writers and, particularly since 1980, significant names from international publishing. It is now one of the world’s great lit-fests.

    Historical Event | By Ruth Starke