Information about the Tea Tree Gully Region

Geology, Geography and Biology

The Tea Tree Gully area consists of parts of the Mount Lofty Ranges ands its foothills, extending towards the Adelaide Plain. The Mount Lofty Ranges consist of intensely folded and faulted sedimentary and igneous rocks formed around 490 million years ago to 600 million years ago and before.

Major local geographical landmarks in the ranges are Mount Gawler and Mount Crawford.

Geographical features, rainfall and soil vary greatly over the area, resulting in a variety of uses of the land.

The native vegetation is eucalypt woodland with a dense understorey of native shrubs. Areas of native pines can also be found. Grass trees, fruit-bearing trees such as the quandong and native cherry were once frequently found. Where the timber cover thinned wild grasses grew vigorously.

Water courses in the area include Dry Creek, Little Para Creek, Cobbler Creek and the River Torrens. Along the banks and in the valleys of many often-dry smaller creeeks there are remnants of the original vegetation preserved in the many parks and reserves in the region.

Native animals of the Region

Some of these are not sighted in the urban areas, but the many parks, water courses and vegetated valleys provide an environment for a surprising variety of animals of all kinds. Mammals native to the area include the Short-beaked Echidna, Common Ringtail Possum, Common Brushtail Possum, Yellow-footed Antechinus, Western Grey Kangaroo, Southern Brown Bandicoot, Bush Rat and several species of bat. (There are introduced species including the Fox, Cat, Rabbit, Hare, Black Rat and House Mouse).

Reptiles include the Shingle-back and the Bearded Dragon, the Eastern Blue-tongue Lizard, several species of snake including the Eastern Brown Snake. Amphibians mostly live in the Creek areas. The Eastern Banjo Frog, Spotted Grass Frog and Brown Toadlet can be found.

There are many bird species to be seen. Many of these are transient, not breeding in the region. Some of the more common bird species include the Common Bronzewing, Little Pied Cormorant, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Corellas, Pacific Black Duck, Peaceful Dove, Wood Duck, Galah, Honeyeaters, White-faced Heron, White Ibis, Kookaburra, Magpie Lark, Magpie, Musk Lorikeet, Dusky Moorhen, Red-rumped Parrot, Little Raven, Adelaide Rosella, Thornbills, Wagtail, etc.


The Kaurna or Adelaide Tribe of Aboriginals were the main inhabitants of the Adelaide plains and hills including the Tea Tree Gully area for possibly as long as 30,000 years prior to European colonisation of South Australia. The Kaurna travelled the various environments of the Adelaide area, utilising each one for a variety of purposes. The Aborigines frequently used fire to trap or flush out game. Fire promoted the growth of particular types of vegetation, which enriched the plant and animal food resources.

The arrival of the European settlers to South Australia in 1836 had a severe impact on Aboriginal population and culture. Some place names in the district serve to remind us of its original inhabitants: Pari, the Kaurna word for water, is preserved via Little Para waterway and the suburbs of Para Hills and Para Vista. Yatala Vale uses the Kaurna word "Yatala" which means water running by the side of the river.

The first white settlers moved into the Tea Tree Gully area in about 1840. The gully was a passage through the Mt. Lofty Ranges. Bullocks used to haul wagons could be watered at permanent gully springs. It is said that bullock drivers used the local 'Tea Tree' to make billy tea, and it is from this that the area has its name. The area was principally a vineyard district and rural agricultural area with five villages for a many years.

The settlement of Hope Valley was the first township, named by its founder, William Halden. The name reflected hope for the township after its early buildings were destroyed by fire. The earliest group of buildings still remaining can be found along the North East Road at Tea Tree Gully. This village was named Steventon and was near springs supplying fresh water for residents and travellers.

Bullock wagons carted hay, firewood and stone from the Adelaide hills to the Adelaide area through the gully. Freestone quarries supplied stone for Adelaide's Town Hall, General Post Office and the Supreme Court. The original passage through the foothills for bullock wagons became North East Road.

The village of Modbury was founded in 1857 after the official North Eastern Road was built. Its founder, Robert Symonds Kelly, contributed land for the establishment of the town. The Golden Grove area was founded by Captain Adam Robertson who built "Golden Grove House", naming it after his last ship. Golden Grove was a farming community.

The name Tea Tree Gully was used first in 1858 for a local government area of approx. 87 square km. In 1935 an amalgamation of two district councils of approx. 128 square km was called Tea Tree Gully.

By 1954 the population had increased slowly to 2,561 (from 1,440 in 1855). The region was still mostly rural with the towns of Tea Tree Gully, Houghton, Inglewood and Highercombe separated from each other by farms and vineyards.

On 8th February 1968 the district was declared the municipality of Tea Tree Gully with a population of 26,000.

Modern Developments

The greatest expansion since 1968 has occurred largely as a result of the urban development of Golden Grove.

The City of Tea Tree Gully now has an area of 96 square km. It had a population of approx 99,000 in 2001 and is estimated to be approx. 101,000 in 2006.


Major business and retail activity occurrs in the Modbury Regional Centre, which is the main business centre for the north eastern region of Metropolitan Adelaide, This, together with the three district shopping centres and numerous neighbourhood shopping centres adequately satisfies the shopping needs of the community.

The main industries in the City of Tea Tree Gully are: light industry - predominantly small business, manufacturing and motor vehicle services, plus extractive industry - involving sand and clay extraction and associated brick manufacturing.

Other areas of employment are retail, wholesale, manufacturing and community services. Modbury has a large regional hospital and various government and non-government service centres. It is also a centre for regional services such as public transport, employment, social security services and family services.

Education is carried out by the Torrens Valley Institute of Technology (Modbury Campus), community based adult education centres, 10 secondary schools and 28 primary schools, public and private.

The City of Tea Tree Gully is now one of the largest metropolitan local governments in South Australia, extending from suburbs with extensive views over the Adelaide Plains into hills and country. It embraces every aspect of modern living, shopping and entertainment. It now has dynamic developments, sweeping architecture and respected cultural heritage.

This information has been collated from a range of sources, principally from information provided by City of Tea Tree Gully and Tea Tree Gully Library. For more detailed information please explore the City of Tea Tree Gully Website at or the Tea Tree Gully Library website at