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1838 to 1870s: Early Marion - A natural place for settlement

Did you know that Marion was once a rural community?

This information is part of Stories of the Sturt River, an interpretive trail where you can listen to the history of the Sturt River at six state-of-the-art signs along a 3km stretch of the Sturt River Linear Park walking and cycling trail from Warriparinga to Oaklands Reserve.

A rural settlement

Marion during the mid to late 1800s was primarily a rural community with a handful of local industries including mining and brickmaking.

A village is mapped

In 1836 Colonel William Light and his survey team arrived and by 1838 he had mapped out the village of Marion.

The Adelaide Plains, including the Sturt River area, with its fertile wooded land and abundant supply of fresh water, immediately impressed Light.

A natural place for settlement

The Sturt River Warripari provided fresh water for most months of the year, and the alluvial soils on the plains adjacent to the river were exceptional for agriculture.

The European settlers grew an abundance of produce including vegetables, almonds, stone fruits, wheat, oats, maize and grapes.

Grape growing and wine making along the Sturt River

Richard Hamilton had secured 80 acres of land on the banks of the Sturt River in the Marion district on the advice of his son John, who was working in Colonel Light’s survey party.

 While establishing his farm, Richard Hamilton wrote to a friend in South Africa asking:

“Would you kindly send a few vine plants as the health of the family requires a little wine.”

SA's first commercially made wine

By 1841 the Hamilton family was producing the first commercial wine in South Australia, selling it to nearby farmers from the back of a horse and cart.

By the early 1860s other significant vine growers and winemakers in the area were the Kearnes and Crozier families at Oaklands, W.H Trimmer at Fairford, and Thomas Hardy and Sons at Brookside.

Last urban vineyard

In Marion there remains a small number of gnarled old Shiraz and Grenache Vines from the Hamilton Estate.

To this day they still bear fruit, in one of the world’s last urban vineyards.

Pinky drinkers

“In the late 1800s local men and women could earn 2 shillings a day grape picking. After work they would relax by sitting under a tree and have a swig of ‘pinky’ from their flagon. Even the old ladies were drinkers. It was part of their social life.” 


Did you know tobacco was grown in Marion?

In the 1850s tobacco was grown extensively in the Marion area. The nicotine was used for treating scab disease in sheep.

Wagon loads of tobaccos were carted from Oaklands to Hindmarsh for drying, then distributed throughout the colony of South Australia.

Stories of the Sturt River video

You can listen to all this on a video on YouTube:

History and Cultural Heritage

The City of Marion recognises the importance of preserving our cultural heritage, valuing the past and planning for the future.

Our cultural heritage is precious and irreplaceable. It includes stories, memories, events and traditions as well as landscapes and places, buildings and objects that have significance to our local community.