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The Adelaide Hills - Local History

Local History of the Adelaide Hills and Basket Range

Colonel William Light, who founded Adelaide in 1836, described the backdrop to his city as "the enchanted hills".

The prominent spurs of the foothills were simply named Black Hill, Green Hill and Brown Hill, whilst the highest point - Mount Lofty - was sighted and named by the explorer Matthew Flinders in 1802 as he circumnavigated Australia in his ship The Investigator. The twin peaks of Mount Lofty and its slightly smaller neighbour - Mount Bonython - were called "Yureilla" by the Kaurna people of the Adelaide plains referring to the "two ears" of a dreamtime kangaroo.

Basket Range is in the steepest and most inaccessible part of the Adelaide Hills - an area once known as The Tiers. The first official European settlers in The Tiers were woodcutters who purchased licences to fell and split timber on Crown Land. Some built stringybark huts and lived with their families in the dense forests. When land was released for sale, many purchased properties and became the first "Toilers of the Hills", clearing the bush, building stone cottages and growing vegetables and fruit for the Adelaide markets.

The East Torrens District Council, which included the area called The Tiers, was proclaimed in 1853, but land at Basket Range was not released for settlement until the early 1870s. The Basket Range Primary School was built in 1885.

Today, the area is much more accessible but Basket Range is still a small, secluded hamlet deep in the Adelaide Hills with winding roads, steep gullies, tall trees and rushing streams. The wooded slopes are now interspersed with a patchwork of orchards, vineyards and pasture and dotted with stone cottages and established gardens.


Mt Lofty House


Tetratheca, Basket Range


Marble Hill 1938


Basket Range Primary School


Cherry pickers and Betsy


WJ Bishops truck


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Basket Range

How “Basket Range”
got its name.

There are several theories behind the district's curious name. One popular explanation dates back to the 1840’s and 50’s when German settlers from the Harz Mountains, probably based at Lobethal or German Flat (near Lenswood) carried their produce to market in Adelaide in large wicker baskets mounted on their backs.

In keeping with the early settler’s tendency to use simple descriptive names like “Green Hill” and “Deep Creek”, the most likely explanation is that the name describes the district's special geography. If you stand atop "Alley's Knob" you can soon see why the early English and German colonists called this beautiful pocket of the Adelaide Hills, the "Basket" Range.

There are other intriguing explanations as to how the district got its name, but whether named for its history or its geography, Basket Range remains a place of beauty and the junction of Deep Creek and Sixth Creek is still a popular picnic spot.