Skip to Main Content

Architecture in South Australia: Heritage

This State Library of South Australia guide explores the architecture of SA, characterised by six chronological styles, starting with Old Colonial to 1840, Victorian to 1890, Federation to 1915, Interwar, Postwar and the Late Twentieth Century from 1960

State Library resources

Choose from the Library's selections below for images and brief histories.


The idea that 'one ought to deliberately seek out and conserve for future generations those places which are recognisably part of our heritage' (Walker, 1986, p ix), is in the 21st century still an argument which stirs a great deal of debate and emotion.

In South Australia there are 4 levels of heritage listing which one can apply to nominate a place of heritage significance; these are World, National, State and Local.

World and national significance listings are governed and administered through Australian Commonwealth legislation (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999), by the Commonwealth Department of Environment and Heritage. State listings are administered by the South Australian government's Department of Environment and Heritage under the Heritage Places Act (1993), and local heritage listings are administered by local government (local councils) and the state government's planning agency (Planning SA) through the Development Act (1993).

It is not easy to have a building or place listed. There are registers which afford different levels of protection, and one must decide what level of protection the heritage place should warrant before going to a great deal of trouble researching to ascertain how the place measures against rigorous criteria before its significance is ratified onto any register.

In Australia, there are many small volunteer lobby groups which aim to promote awareness and significance of heritage places. The largest and most prominent of these bodies is the National Trust, a community based non-government organisation, which has several high profile properties around Australia, and plays a large role in lobbying and raising awareness, and advocating best practice of heritage places and their importance. Through its work the Trust has influenced policy and has been able to add significant places to the various heritage lists around Australia. However the Trust's own listing carries no legal requirements for owners.

In the February 2009 edition of the Adelaide review (p43) Francesco Bonato talks about the debate that Adelaide is reluctant to take risks when it comes to its architecture.

Further reading: 

Burden, Michael. Lost Adelaide: a photographic record, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, c1983 

Time gentlemen please!: the story of the fight to save the Aurora Hotel,  Norwood, S. Aust.: Aurora Heritage Action [1984]

Planning bulletin: heritage / Planning SA  Adelaide: Planning SA, 2001

Preserving historic Adelaide, edited by Colin Bond and Hamish Ramsay, Adelaide: Rigby, 1978

Our city, your heritage, [Adelaide]: Planning Services, City of Adelaide, [1998]

South Australia's heritage, edited by Jenny Walker  Netley, S. Aust.: State Heritage Branch, Dept. of Environment and Planning and Government Printing Division, 1986 

For full details of the Australian Heritage Commission publications at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment see Heritage publications - DAWE