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Friends of Pat Creek
Patawalonga Creek
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Patawalonga Creek
a brief history


Kate Barrett

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Patawalonga Creek - a brief history

Looking back on the European history of the area, one can only marvel that the remnant Patawalonga Creek has survived the onslaught of 'Progress'. Even in the early days the creek was lucky to escape the passion for drainage demonstrated by the pioneer Gray family.

The Creek of course was not far from Glenelg, the 'birthplace' of South Australia and its waters would have been familiar to Colonel Light and all early settlers. Colonel Light wrote of the Patawalonga, "much might be hereafter made of this little stream".

In 1838 William Henry Gray selected Section 203, one hundred and thirty-four acres just north of Glenelg which included much of the Patawalonga Creek. By 1843 this property supported 100 acres of wheat, ten acres of barley, 18 cattle, two horses and 20 pigs.
W.H. Gray
W.H. Gray - 20Kb JPEG

'Frogmore' - 16Kb JPEG

By 1858 Gray could afford to buy 'Frogmore', an adjoining property to the north, which included the remainder of the Pat Creek waters. (The 'Frogmore family home, near the present-day intersection of Tapleys Hill and West Beach Roads, survived until 1960.)

In 1876 Gray was boasting: "the drains I have made have relieved all this land and where only salt scrub grew there is now hay growing. I have about 15 miles of drains made which have cost me thousands of pounds."

After Gray's death his trustees set up plans for what became the subdivision of North Glenelg and later in the 1920s the pattern was repeated to prepare for the 'development' of West Beach. At that stage Richmond Road lead only as far as Tapleys Hill Road, so a road had to created to the coast. It took thirty-six men using 24 scoops and more than 100 horses over many months to move 200,000 cubic yards of sand for the new subdivision. This road proved a major construction project with embankments, bridges and culverts to drain the channels of the meandering Patawalonga.

Somehow, remnants of the creek survived this process and this was followed by years in 'limbo'. The area was widely regarded as waste land and parts used as a rubbish dump. But even as late as the 1960s some adventurous local youths used the space as an adventure playground, building hides, paddling along the creek and fishing.

In very recent times the creek has just survived the Airport extension, the Patawalonga Lake clean-up project and the construction of the silt ponds.

Fortunately the future is now bright for the Creek, with the Friends group going well, the placement of the Melaleuca stand on the National Trust of SA's Register of Significant Trees and possibilities for additional layers of protection are currently being investigated.


Hasenohr, E. (1977): W.H. Grey - a pioneer colonist of South Australia

Perry, D.M. (1985): The Place of Waters - a story of Glenelg's first fifty years

Ground Truth
Ground Truth:
towards an
environmental history
of South Australia

Web version created 31st May 2001; last updated 12th April 2002.
This page maintained by Andrew Winkler for the
Friends of Patawalonga Creek.
Please email any comments or material for future issues to: The Editor

© Littoral Productions 2001