Adelaide was established as a planned colony of free immigrants, promising civil liberties and freedom from religious persecution, based upon the ideas of Edward Gibbon Wakefield.
Wakefield had read accounts of Australian settlement while in prison in London for attempting to abduct an heiress, As it was believed that in a colony of free settlers there would be little crime, no provision was made for a gaol in Colonel Light's 1837 plan.
It ranks highly in terms of liveability, being listed in the Top 10 of The Economist Intelligence Unit Prior to its proclamation as a British settlement in 1836, the area around Adelaide was inhabited by the indigenous Kaurna Aboriginal nation (pronounced "Garner" or "Gowna").
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However, by mid-1837 the South Australian Register was warning of escaped convicts from New South Wales and tenders for a temporary gaol were sought.
Following a burglary, a murder, and two attempted murders in Adelaide during March 1838, Governor Hindmarsh created the South Australian Police Force (now named South Australia Police) in April 1838 under 21-year-old Henry Inman.
Gawler was recalled and replaced by Governor Grey in 1841.
Grey slashed public expenditure against heavy opposition, although its impact was negligible at this point: silver was discovered in Glen Osmond that year, agriculture was well underway, and other mines sprung up all over the state, aiding Adelaide's commercial development.
The first governor of South Australia, John Hindmarsh, clashed frequently with others, in particular the Resident Commissioner, James Hurtle Fisher.
The rural area surrounding Adelaide was surveyed by Light in preparation to sell a total of over 405 km (156 sq mi) of land.
By 1860, wheat farms had been established from Encounter Bay in the south to Clare in the north.
Governor Gawler took over from Hindmarsh in late 1838 and, despite being under orders from the Select Committee on South Australia in Britain not to undertake any public works, promptly oversaw construction of a governor's house, the Adelaide Gaol, police barracks, a hospital, a customs house and a wharf at Port Adelaide.
Early Adelaide was shaped by prosperity and wealth—until the Second World War, it was Australia's third-largest city.