South Australia was founded as a colony on 28 December 1836 – what we call “Proclamation Day” with a ceremony at Holdfast Bay.
Only a few days later, the first settlement was begun here in Adelaide, and the first site occupied by Europeans was here in what we now call Bonython Park. From January to March 1837, migrants camped in tents and temporary wooden huts in two camps in this location.
The camps were named after two of the first migrant ships, the Buffalo and the Coromandel. These camps could be considered Adelaide's first migrant hostel; a temporary camp, right here for the “boat people”
The colonial government had the intention of gathering the existing Aboriginal population into one place, for the purposes of education provided by missionaries. Of course it also had the effect of removing the Kaurna people from their traditional lands after thousands of years, lands that were now earmarked for European settlers to live and work.
Between 1837 and 1845 the so-called “Native Location” was set up, and then moved several times. The first Native Location (Bromley’s Camp) was established in April 1837 by Captain Walter Bromley who was appointed ‘Protector of Aborigines’ – this was only a few months after the first migrants arrived.
Bromley’s Camp was established, under instruction, by Colonel Light – on land that is now part of Bonython Park. However Bromley’s Camp was little more than a rations distribution point.
A few months later, William Wyatt became the second ‘Protector’ in August 1837 and established a more permanent settlement – in the same vicinity as Bromley’s Camp – south of the river where an acre of land was fenced and contained 12 huts for about 200 aboriginal people.
Two missionaries arrived in October 1838 and established themselves there at the Old Location; where they studied the Kaurna language and taught in that language.
Only a year later, in 1839 the Native Location was moved again, across to the north side of the river, on what is now part of the Par 3 golf course. This was called the Pirltawardli site. A school was opened there in December 1840 but the site was dismantled in 1845, and a new 'Native School' teaching only in English was set up near what's now Kintore Avenue.
However the name Pirltawardli still exists. It's the Kaurna word for Possum Place and also the name for the adjacent Park 1, also known as Possum Park, the site of the City of Adelaide's golf courses.