50 Interesting Facts about South Australia

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South Australia is a pretty cool place. A lot of interesting things have happened here are there is a lot unique about it. Take a look at this list of interesting facts about South Australia that make this state great!

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  1. Adelaide has a population of around 1.4million people. It makes up almost all of the 1.8 million people that live in South Australia.
  2. Adelaide is a planned city with wide, grid-like streets. This makes it easy to get around.
  3. Adelaide was founded in 1836 when the first Europeans arrived here. They were all free settlers, and contrary to popular belief, there were never any convicts in this part of Australia.
  4. While we all consider 1836 to be South Australia’s “birthday”, officially the Colony of South Australia was created in 1834 when the South Australian Colonisation Act was passed in the United Kingdom.
  5. Adelaide is the traditional land of the Kaurna (pronounced Garna) people.
  6. In the entirety of South Australia, more than thirty distinct indigenous groups can be found.
  7. South Australia is considered to be the driest state on the driest continent.
  8. Adelaide is often called the City of Churches. It’s not because there are a lot of churches (although it does have a lot!) it’s because right from the start there was freedom of religion and so there were many different places of worship including churches, mosques, synagogues and temples.
  9. Adelaide has a penchant for distinctive sculptures in Rundle Mall. First, it was the Spheres – more commonly called the Mall’s Balls – then a group of four pigs. Most recently a giant pigeon has been added to the collection.
The famed Malls Balls sit proudly in Rundle Mall
  1. Adelaide is one of the ten Great Wine Capitals of the World and is the hub for the 18 wine regions surrounding it.
  2. Adelaide is home to the second largest fringe festival in the world. For a month during February/March the city comes alive with hundreds of events.
  3. South Australia was the second place in the world to give women the vote. It was before Australia officially became a country so it was only a South Australian law at the time. (The first place was our neighbours in New Zealand)
  4. As part of the right to vote, women were also given the right to stand for parliament. This made South Australia was the first place in the world where both women and men had equal political rights.
  5. South Australia is home to the longest place name in Australia. Mamungkukumpurangkuntjunya Hill is located in the remote APY lands in the north west of the state. The name means “where the devil urinates”!
  6. Anna Creek Station in South Australia’s north is the largest cattle station in the world. At 23,677 km², it is larger than the countries of Israel and Belize.
  7. The hottest temperature ever measured in Australia is 50.7 degrees and was recorded at Oodnadatta in 1960. This was recently equalled in 2022 in Onslow, Western Australia.
  8. South Australia is one of the few places in the world where CocaCola is not the most popular drink – here it is Farmer’s Union Iced Coffee.
Farmers Union Iced Coffee
“It’s Farmers Union iced coffee – or it’s nothing!”
  1. South Australia’s dodge tides – where there is no movement between high and low tides – are a rarity, happening only here and in the Gulf of Mexico.
  2. The mythical island of Lilliput from Gulliver’s Travels has co-ordinates that place it in South Australia. Someone therefore decided in 2007 that we should have an island with the name, so today, you can visit Lilliput Island as part of the Nuyts Archipelago near Ceduna.
  3. The Ghan is the longest passenger train in the world and travels between Adelaide and Darwin. At times the train can stretch for more than 1km.
  4. South Australia’s electricity poles are unique. Called Stobie Poles, they are made out of concrete and steel. Invented by James Stobie, the first poles were installed in 1924 and were seen as a cheaper, more environmentally friendly, solution to timber poles.
  5. South Australia was the launch location for the only two satellites launched in Australia. They went skyward from Woomera in 1969 & 1971.
  6. South Australia was also sadly the only mainland location of British nuclear testing in the 1950s. The Maralinga site is still badly affected today.
  7. The Piping Shrike is a black and white bird that appears on the South Australian state emblem. Funnily enough though, there is no such bird at a Piping Shrike – it is in fact a White-Backed Magpie.
The Piping Shrike on the South Australian flag
  1. The South Australian floral emblem does exist though. Sturt’s Desert Pea is found growing in the wild in the northern parts of the state.
  2. South Australia is home to the oldest producing shiraz vines in the world. The isolation of the SA vineyards means that the phylloxera infestation has not affected the crops here. Those oldest vines can be found at Langmeil’s Winery in the Barossa Valley, and are used to create their 1843 Freedom Shiraz.
  3. The Hills Hoist clothesline was invented here in SA. As was the goon bag.
  4. Coober Pedy is the Opal Capital of the world, producing about 70% of the world’s opal.
  5. South Australia was the first state in the country to decriminalise homosexuality.
  6. The Palm House in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens was originally built in Germany in 1875 and is now the only glasshouse of its kind still standing.
  7. Another building in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, the Bicentennial Conservatory, is the largest single span conservatory in the Southern Hemisphere.
  8. The South Australian Museum is home to the largest collection of Aboriginal artefacts in the world.
  9. South Australian is one of only three places in the world that offers shark cage diving with great white sharks. Do a day trip from Port Lincoln to experience this adrenalin rush.
  10. It is also the only place in the world to swim with giant cuttlefish. Each winter they converge on the waters at the top of the Spencer Gulf to breed, and brave visitors can snorkel in the freezing waters amongst them.
  11. Maslin Beach was Australia’s first nude beach, and now it is home to the annual “Nude Olympics”, usually held each January.
  12. When The Beatles visited Adelaide in 1964, they stood on the balcony of the Town Hall and waved at more than 300 000 people – the largest crowd that greeted them anywhere.
Visitors can still see The Beatles on the Adelaide Town Hall balcony today
  1. Cricketer Sir Donald Bradman is one of SA’s favourite residents – even though he wasn’t born here. He lived in Adelaide for almost 70 years, and now has one of the most prominent roads in the city named after him.
  2. South Australia is the birthplace of Julia Gillard, the first (and only) female Prime Minister of Australia.
  3. South Australia has been home to some big failures too. Locals may remember the one-way freeway that changed directions in the middle of the day, the retractable lights at Adelaide Oval and the new city that was to be built at Monarto.
  4. Speaking of Monarto, South Australia will soon be home to the largest safari park outside of Africa when the new developments at Monarto Safari Park open later this year or early 2023.
  5. The Adelaide Central Market has been operating since 1869 and is one of the largest undercover fresh food markets in the Southern Hemisphere.
  6. Adelaide is the only UNESCO City of Music in Australia, and one of only 31 in the world. Look out for the city laneways named after some of the most famous musicians to come from the city.
  7. South Australia has some uniques and bizarre foods, such as a pie floaters, fritz and frog cakes.
  8. South Australia was home to the strangest bushranger in the country. John Peggotty became known as the Birdman of the Coorong. He would rob travellers while brandishing his ornamental pistols from the back of an ostrich! A memorial to him can be found at Meningie.
Read about the Birdman of the Coorong at Meningie
  1. RM Williams started making his famous boots from his Dad’s shed in Prospect. Today you can still visit that exact location, although it looks a little different and is now a modern showroom and museum.
  2. In South Australia’s desert there is a huge modern geoglyph called the Marree Man. He appeared overnight in 1998 and is 2.7km tall. He is best seen from a plane.
  3. South Australia has plenty of Macabre place names, like Coffin Bay, Dead Man’s Creek, Mount Terrible and Denial Bay.
  4. South Australians speak differently to the rest of the country. The general consensus is that we have a more British accent than that of our fellow Australians. We also use slightly different terms for things too – like those clothes we swim in are bathers here in SA, and swimmers or togs elsewhere.
  5. South Australia almost never gets snow. Although once ever year or two there is a very light sprinkle, and it becomes the news headline that night (usually with someone making a snow angel!)
  6. South Australia is one of just a few locations around the world that has a half-hour timezone.

Coming to visit South Australia? These posts will help you plan
How to Plan Your South Australia Trip
The Ultimate South Australia Itinerary
100 Adelaide Experiences

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About the author

Josie Kelsh is South Australian, born and bred, living here for her whole life. Travelling all over the world has shown her exactly how amazing South Australia is to live and travel in and she uses her passion to show it to you the way a local sees it.