Waterfall Gully, South Australia

Infobox Australian Place | type = suburb
name = Waterfall Gully
city = Adelaide
state = sa

caption = First Falls, Waterfall Gully
est = 1867
lga = City of Burnside
postcode = 5066
pop = 2,285 (2001 census) (includes other suburbs)
area = 6.08
propval = [http://www.domain.com.au/Public/SuburbReport.aspx?searchTerm=5066&mode=+%24257%2C000 $510,000] (2005)
stategov = Bragg
fedgov = Sturt
near-nw = Beaumont
near-n = Burnside
near-ne = Cleland Conservation Park (Greenhill)
near-w = Mount Osmond
near-e = Cleland Conservation Park (Greenhill)
near-sw = Leawood Gardens
near-s = Crafers West
near-se = Cleland Conservation Park (Greenhill)
dist1 = 10
location1= Adelaide

Waterfall Gully (coord|34|57|S|138|40|E|region:AU-SA) is an outer suburb of the South Australian capital city of Adelaide. It is located in the foothills of the Mount Lofty Ranges around five kilometres east-south-east of Adelaide's central business district (CBD). For the most part, the suburb encompasses one long gully with First Creek at its centre and Waterfall Gully Road adjacent to the creek. At the southern end of the gully is First Falls, the waterfall for which the suburb was named.

Part of the City of Burnside, Waterfall Gully is bounded to the north by the suburb of Burnside, from the north-east to south-east by Cleland Conservation Park (part of the suburb of Greenhill), to the south by Crafers West, and to the west by Leawood Gardens and Mount Osmond. The southern part of Waterfall Gully (approximately one third by area, and including First Falls) is part of Cleland Conservation Park.

Waterfall Gully is rich in history and has been a popular attraction since Adelaide's early colonists discovered the area in the 19th century. Home to a number of residents and increasingly frequented by tourists, Waterfall Gully has undergone extensive developments in recent years.


The Mount Lofty Ranges, which encompass Waterfall Gully, was first sighted by Captain Matthew Flinders in 1802,Hardy (1989), p. 5.] while the gully itself was discovered soon after the establishment of Adelaide. Colonel William Light, the first Surveyor-General of the new colony, was said to have "decided on the site for Adelaide when viewing the plains from the hills near Waterfall Gully". Nevertheless, the gully had seen human visitors long before the arrival of the Europeans, as the native population had lived in the area for up to 40,000 years prior to Flinders' appearance off the South Australian coast.Hardy (1989), p. 4.]


In Australian Aboriginal mythology, Waterfall Gully and the surrounding Mount Lofty Ranges are part of the story of the ancestor-creator "Nganno".While the Department of Environment and Heritage (2001) refers to "Nganno", Hardy (1989, p. 5) employs "Yurebilla", and Kleinig names the figure as "Jureidla".] Travelling across the land of the native Kaurna people, Nganno was wounded in a battle and laid down to die, forming the Mount Lofty Ranges.Department for Environment and Heritage (2001)] The ears of Nganno were said to have formed the peaks of Mount Lofty and Mount Bonython, and the region was referred to as "Yur-e-billa", or "the place of the ears".Smith, Pate & Piddock (2005), p. 3.] The name of the Greater Mount Lofty Parklands, Yurrebilla, was derived from this term, while the nearby town of Uraidla employs a more corrupted form.

Although Hardy states that the Kaurna people did not live in the ranges themselves, they did live on the lower slopes.Hardy (1989), pp. 4–5.] An early settler of the neighbouring suburb of Beaumont, James Milne Young, described the local Kaurnas: "At every creek and gully you would see their wurlies [simple Aboriginal homes made out of twigs and grass] and their fires at night... often as many as 500 to 600 would be camped in various places... some behind the Botanic Gardens on the banks of the river; some toward the Ranges; some on the Waterfall Gully." [Stringer (1986)] Their main presence, demarcated by the use of fire against purchasers of land, was on the River Torrens and the creeks that flowed into it, including Waterfall Gully's First Creek. These were also the most prized areas for the sawyers and splitters working in the region.Kleinig, "Mt Lofty: A View Down Through the Early Years"]

The land around Waterfall Gully provided the original inhabitants with a number of resources. The bark from the local stringybark trees (Eucalyptus obliqua) was used in the construction of winter huts, and stones and native timbers were used to form tools. Food was also present, and cossid moth larvae along with other species of plants and animals were collected. Nevertheless, there were only a few resources that could only be found on the slopes, and "both hunting and food gathering would in general have been easier on the rich plains".

Early colonial exploration

One of the earliest accounts of Waterfall Gully comes from a "Mr Kent", who, along with Captain Collet Barker and Barker's servant, Miles, climbed Mount Lofty in 1831. In making their ascent the party skirted a ravine – described by Mr Kent as possessing "smooth and grassy sides" – which is believed by Anne Hardy to have been Waterfall Gully. Subsequent to Barker's ascent, the first settlers who were recorded as having climbed Mount Lofty were Bingham Hutchinson and his servant, William Burt. The pair made three attempts to scale the mount before succeeding, and for their first attempt they attempted to traverse Waterfall Gully.Hardy (1989), p. 6.] The attempt was unsuccessful, but in July, 1837, Hutchinson wrote about the gully though which they had travelled. Waterfall Gully he wrote, had proven difficult, as the plants were so thickly grown as to provide a significant barrier to their progress. Near the point of surrender, Hutchinson described how they were "agreeably surprised by seeing a wall of rock about fifty or sixty feet high, which stretched across the ravine, and from the top of it leapt the brook which had so long been [their] companion."Hutchinson, in Warburton (1981), pp. 187-188. Hutchinson reported that they continued the climb, but surrendered after being faced with another steep ravine separating them from their goal.] The brook was First Creek, and the waterfall they sighted is today known as First Falls.Warburton (1977), p. 28.]

Nevertheless, Hutchinson was not the first to see First Falls. The first known recorded sighting of the waterfall by a colonial was that of John William Adams, an emigrant of H.M.S. "Buffalo" in early January 1837, who named it "Adams' Waterfall". He was traveling with his wife, Susanna and a party consisting of Nicholson's and Breaker's who had the use of a dray to go into the hills. Adams states "we were opposite the spot where the Eagle on the Hill now is, and the question was put, who would volunteer to go down the hillside to try for water".Stringer (1980)]


The area soon became a tourist attraction for the early South Australian colonists, and was a popular destination for picnickers. In 1851 Francis Clark wrote that "Waterfall Gully is the most picturesque place for a picnic that I have ever visited",Clark, Francis in Warburton (1981), p. 188.] and by the 1860's the area had become known throughout Adelaide. The use of Waterfall Gully as picnic spot was facilitated by the decision of the government of the day not to subdivide the area containing the waterfalls. Section 920, as it was designated, did not enter into private hands, and thus members of the public were able to access the area from the nearby suburb of Eagle on the Hill on Mount Barker road.Warburton (1981), p. 188.] The position of the Eagle on the Hill hotel proved advantageous for this, as it permitted visitors to stop by for lunch before walking down the hill in the afternoon.Warburton (1981), p. 102.]

Other parts of the Waterfall Gully area were subdivided, though, and much of the area was owned by Samuel Davenport. Davenport used the land for timber, grazing, and the cultivation of various crops, including olives and grapes for wine production.Warburton (1977), pp. 28–31.] Other local residents ran market gardens and nurseries. For example, local residents Wilhelm Mügge and his wife Auguste Schmidt operated "one of the best nurseries and market gardens near Adelaide", and gained a reputation for the cheeses produced from their local dairy farm.Warburton (1981), pp. 188–189.] Along with farming, a number of mines were established from the mid-to-late 1800s. In 1844 the first silver-lead, manganese and iron mines were established in the area, while the 1890s saw a minor gold rush – although "only small quantities were extracted".Warburton (1981), p. 193.] Of greater success was stone quarrying in Chambers' Gully, which began in 1863 and increased in scale in 1912.

During this period the population of the nearby village of Burnside was expanding and required a new water supply. First Creek — which runs down Waterfall Gully and enters the River Torrens near today's Botanic Gardens — was seen as the perfect solution to the water shortage. A weir was built during 1881 and 1882, and was made to hold approximately two megalitres (530,000 US gallons) of water. A pipeline was built to Burnside, and from there the water was used throughout the surrounding area.Warburton (1981), p. 190.] As a side effect, the weir also reduced the volume of water available to the local market gardeners, and over many years that aspect of the region disappeared.Warburton (1981), p. 192.]

While the route to the falls from Eagle on the Hill was on public land, the alternative route along the gully was through private properties. Nevertheless, many visitors chose this route, and a combination of public demand and a desire from some of the landowners for improved access to and from their properties – especially from the Mügges – led to pressure to build a road through the gully. Although there was opposition from some of the locals, the Waterfall Gully road was built in the late 1880s.Warburton (1981), pp. 189–190.]

The completion of the road led to an increase in visitor numbers.Warburton (1981), p. 192.] Rather than a bumpy horse ride,Warburton (1981), p. 189.] visitors could now catch the horse tram to the start of the gully, and walk, cycle or ride to the falls.Warburton (1981), pp. 191–192.] To provide for tourists, the area gained a number of road-side kiosks and produce stalls, and the Mügges erected the two story Waterfall Hotel along the path. Furthermore, in 1912 the government opened a kiosk at the base of First Falls, designed in the "style of a Swiss chalet".Hardy (1989), p. 11.] The hotel is a private residence today, but the kiosk continues to operate.


Some parts of Waterfall Gully were transferred from the District Council of Crafers (now the Adelaide Hills Council) to the City of Burnside in 1876, when the suburb's current boundaries were established. In the early 20th century the area was known mainly for its agricultural uses, but by the middle of the century homes had begun to dot the gully.

In 1945, much of the area that is today's Cleland Conservation Park, a large conservation reserve, was purchased by the State Government, in large part because of the lobbying efforts of Professor Sir John Cleland. Most of this land, including the gully areas, was combined in 1963 to create the park that extends eastwards up the gully to the summit of Mount Lofty and northwards to Greenhill Road. Fact|date=September 2008

Natural disasters

Over the years since European settlement Waterfall Gully has suffered from both bushfires and flooding. The gully was severely hit by a number of bushfires in 1939 that threatened the area, and further bushfires in the early 1940s caused considerable damage because of the war effort diverting supplies and personnel from the Country Fire Service.Lovett (2005)] Significant floods occurred in 1889 and 1931,Warburton (1981), p. 329.] and, on the night of 7 November 2005, Waterfall Gully was one of several areas in Adelaide to experience severe flooding. Waterfall Gully was one of the hardest hit suburbs: Bob Stevenson, Duty Officer of the State Emergency Service, commented that "There's an area called Waterfall Gully Road, in the foothills, where one of the creeks comes down, and there's quite a few houses affected there ... there was 40 or so houses affected on that one road alone"."Flash flooding hits Adelaide" (8 November 2005)] Properties were flooded, two bridges nearly collapsed, and 100 metres of road was washed away. Burnside council workers, the CFS and the SES repaired the initial damage on the night while reconstruction of infrastructure commenced in late November. Much of the road had been inaccessible, and the suburb was closed except to residents and emergency workers for the remainder of the month."Media Release: Hundreds of Homes Affected by Floods"(8 November 2005)]


Waterfall Gully is situated at an average elevation of 234 metres above sea level, in an area of 6.08 km². Its most notable geographical features are its gully and waterfall. Three hundred metres from the start of Waterfall Gully Road is Langman Reserve, a large local park that was converted from a quarry in the late 1960s and is dedicated to the former mayor of the City of Burnside, W. Langman.Fact|date=September 2008 Much of the north-eastern side of the gully is part of Cleland Conservation Park and many walking trails lead off into the park. Most of land on the south-western side is owned by the Burnside Council. Fact|date=September 2008 Various fire and walking trails also run through it.

Since European Settlement the native plant life has been considerably affected, with the native Manna Gum and Blue Gum woodlands being largely cleared for agricultural uses."Native Vegetation" (11 November 2007)] The large amount of non-native vegetation in the gully is predominantly the result of the relatively sudden end of agriculture. Olive groves and other introduced species were left to grow without being hindered by the activity of farm animals which had kept the hills relatively bare. The Burnside Council has undertaken programs to re-establish and protect native vegetation but little progress has been made in removing invasive non-native species such as olive trees, bamboo and blackberry bushes. Fact|date=September 2008 Despite the introduction of European plant species, the native wildlife has not been visibly affected.Fact|date=September 2008 A large number of unique Australian animals such as kangaroos, koalas and possums can be spotted on some of the walking trails.Walking Trails (11 November 2007)]

Adjoining Waterfall Gully, two kilometers away, is Chambers Gully, which used to function as a land-fill, but has in the past decade been reclaimed as a park through volunteer work. It contains a number of old ruins, walking trails, and springs and is home to a significant number of native species. The extent to which it has been successfully reclaimed is evident by the return of various species of frogs. Fact|date=September 2008


Cars are the preferred mode of transport in the suburb. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 90% of residents are drivers or passengers of cars for their commute to work. Waterfall Gully is connected to the major Adelaide thoroughfare Greenhill Road by Waterfall Terrace and Glynburn Road. Traffic congestion is relatively light in comparison to the commute of those in the Northern or Southern suburbs Fact|date=September 2008, and considerably better than in other cities. Adelaide's city centre can typically be reached by car in 15 minutes. Fact|date=September 2008

Because of the area's seclusion, only an extremely small proportion (1.2%) walk to work and none cycle, which is in contrast to both the Adelaide Metropolitan Area and the City of Burnside as a whole.Fact|date=September 2008 Limited bus services mean only 4% of Waterfall Gully residents travel to work by bus. The closest bus route for Waterfall Gully is the 142 bus, provided by the multi-service Adelaide Metro.

Waterfall Gully Road is meandering and in some parts quite narrow. This has led to concerns on pedestrian safety, as the road is frequented by tourists, bushwalkers and cyclists. Fact|date=September 2008 To address these concerns, the Burnside Council has created footpaths on some sections of the road and walking trails on others. Fact|date=September 2008


In the 2001 Census, the population of the Waterfall Gully census area (which includes other suburbs) was 2,285 people, in an area of 6.08 square kilometers. Females outnumbered males 54.2% to 45.8%. Some 21.4% of the population was born overseas (see chart for a breakdown). fields.

The average age in Waterfall Gully is increasing, though at a slower rate than in Australia as a whole. Waterfall Gully has the second highest proportion of under-18s in the City of Burnside and the second lowest number of couples without children. Family numbers are also stable (2.6) with only a 0.01% drop between the 1996 and 2001 censuses. Also of note is the high occurrence of religious affiliation (73%) in Waterfall Gully in comparison to the Adelaide (and national) average. Christian belief (70%) is most prominent, with little growth in other religions.


The main attraction of Waterfall Gully is the waterfall, First Falls. It is at the south-eastern end of the road, in land owned by Cleland Conservation Park. The weir at the bottom of the Waterfall was constructed in the late 1800s and was part of Adelaide's early water supply. Fact|date=September 2008 Development in the area has continued since the construction of a restaurant in 1912. Recent developments began in 1995 and were completed in 2005.

The Waterfall Gully Restaurant was constructed between 1911 and 1912 by South Australian architects Albert Selmar Conrad and his brother Frank, who were of German descent. Prior to World War I, the building was referred to as being of "German Character" but has not been referred to in this way since, although it is still noted for its "Alpine" style. Extended in 1914, and converted to a restaurant in the late 1950s, it was later closed but reopened in the late 1990s and has recently undergone renovations.Fact|date=September 2008

Other fire tracks and walking trails wind around the hills that surround Waterfall Gully, branching off from Chambers Gully, Woolshed Gully or the area around First Creek. Destinations include Crafers, Eagle on the Hill, Mount Lofty, Mount Osmond and the Cleland Wildlife Park, located in the Cleland Conservation Park. The tracks have been completely rebuilt and resurfaced in the past ten years, and a number of older and more perilous routes have been sealed because of the difficult terrain. Many offer views of the city of Adelaide, as well as the Gully itself. One of these is notable for connecting to the 1200-kilometer-long Heysen Trail, and the trails are highly frequented.

Early excavation efforts explain the silver-lead mines that operated around the area in the nineteenth century. Fact|date=September 2008 Many still exist and some are still accessible. Mined by predominantly Cornish miners, the mineshafts are roughly 1.7 metres high and a metre across. They were only slightly successful compared to the considerably richer mines at Wheal Watkins in nearby Glen Osmond but are still of interest to those who manage to locate them. The mines are secluded and relatively unknown. Fact|date=September 2008

Greenhill Springs, located on Waterfall Gully Road, has been supplying spring water to the local Adelaide populace since 1952. The water is supposed to have therapeutic qualities and has been used to treat hospital patients in the past. The springs have been a family-owned business since their inception. Fact|date=September 2008


Waterfall Gully is by comparison a socially conservative and economically liberal suburb. Many residents are high-income earners and identify positively with the policies of the conservative Coalition.

The Liberal Party polls very well in the area, receiving approximately 65% of the popular vote in the last two elections. Progressive parties such as the Labor Party and the Greens receive the majority of remaining votes.

Waterfall Gully is part of the state electoral district of Bragg, which has been held since 2002 by Liberal MP Vickie Chapman. In federal politics, the suburb is part of the division of Sturt, and has been represented by Christopher Pyne since 1993. The results shown are from the closest polling station to Waterfall Gully — which is located outside of the suburb — at St David's Church Hall on nearby Glynburn Road (Burnside).




External links

* [http://www.id.com.au/burnside/commprofile/default.asp?id=139&gid=130&pg=1 City of Burnside Community Profile, statistics taken from the ABS]
* [http://www.burnside.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=762 City of Burnside Electoral Areas]
* [http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/cleland Cleland National Park]
* [http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/yurrebilla/introduction.html The Greater Mount Lofty Parklands (Yurrebilla)]
* [http://www.users.bigpond.com/burnsidecfs/community/community_history.htm History of the Burnside CFS]
* [http://www.burnside.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=1332 History of the City of Burnside]

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