Rosewater, South Australia

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AdelaideSouth Australia
Eric sutton oval, rosewater.jpg
Eric Sutton Oval
Rosewater is located in South Australia
Coordinates 34°50′46″S 138°30′11″E / 34.846°S 138.503°E / -34.846; 138.503Coordinates: 34°50′46″S 138°30′11″E / 34.846°S 138.503°E / -34.846; 138.503
Population 3,263 (2001 census)[1]
 • Density 2,330/km2 (6,040/sq mi)
Established 1855
Postcode(s) 5013
Area 1.4 km2 (0.5 sq mi)
Location 12 km (7 mi) from Adelaide
State electorate(s) Cheltenham, Port Adelaide
Federal Division(s) Port Adelaide
Suburbs around Rosewater:
Port Adelaide Gillman Ottoway
West Lakes Rosewater Pennington
Queenstown Alberton Cheltenham

Rosewater is one of the western suburbs of Adelaide and is located 10 km north-west of Adelaide's central business district (CBD). Although mainly residential, there are many shops along Grand Junction Road and the retired "Rosewater Loop" railway line runs through the suburb. Rosewater is split in half by Grand Junction Road and bordered on the east by Addison and on the south by Torrens Road.

Originally, the area was mainly used as vegetable and dairy farmland but became more and more residential as the railway lines and Grand Junction Road were completed and as Port Adelaide grew and developed. Rosewater was also the site of the AdelaideRadio (VIA) maritime radio station system from 1912 to 1963.[2]


Prior to European settlement, the area was inhabited by the Kaurna people. They called the general area Yatala[3] from which the nearby Yatala takes its name. Further north, the area was known as Yertabulti and Yerta Boldingga, which means 'land of sleep or death' according to John Phillip Gell.[4]

The original subdivision of Rosewater was created in 1855 by Philip Levi, when he subdivided Section 1189. The area just south of this, between Grand Junction and Torrens Roads, had been laid out by Osmond Gilles in 1847 and was known as "Yatala" (Sections 422 and 2072). The area west of Levi's subdivision was farmland owned by William Henry Gray and was called Graytown (Section 699). After Gray's death, Graytown was subdivided and sold as residential lands in 1898. Many of the streets there are named after Gray and his family; Rosetta, Edith, Alice and Jane (now Jennifer Street) were all family members.

The generally accepted explanation of the name "Rosewater" is attributed to Philip Levi who, it is claimed, said "The locality was a swamp, and the perfumes arising from the stagnant water were so offensive that I thought the name of Rosewater would, to some extent, act as a corrective".[5] An alternative etymology came to light in 1945 when a Commissioner of Police report accompanying a parcel of human bone fragments discovered in Rosewater stated the following:

"Mrs J. Ward, the owner of the property, where the bones were found, states that her father arrived here 100 years ago and took up land and used water from a wall on the site in question, for the manufacture of sand bricks. The water in the well was so pure that it was named "rose water" and her father often remarked to her that the district derived its name therefrom".[6]

As the population grew the area became crowded with subdivisions. The areas north and east of Levi's original "Rosewater" were called Rosewater North and Rosewater East respectively, while to the east of Evans Street were Dockville and Kingsnorth. East of these were the subdivisions of Brookesville, Ottoway and Ottoway East, which are now all part of Ottoway. East of Addison Road were Rosewater Gardens, Rosewater Gardens South and Stone's Farm (where the Flinders Hotel now stands). South of the "Yatala" area were Kelmscott, Everton and Pennington.

Rosewater Post Office opened around July 1877 and closed in 1982. Rosewater East Post Office on Grand Junction Road opened on 1 December 1947.[7]

It was not until 1945 that the confusion was put to an end when the Port Adelaide Council moved to reduce the number of local district areas, combining 13 into what is now known as Rosewater.

Between the 1880s and the 1980s, Rosewater grew to become a reasonably large township with two hotels, a police and firestation, churches and many shops along Grand Junction Road. The Rosewater Gasworks was the largest local industry and many of the residents of the area worked in the timber mills, rail yards and woolsheds to the east of Port Adelaide.[3]

The Redhill Bridge which goes over the Outer Harbor railway line

Rosewater was also the site of the AdelaideRadio (VIA) maritime radio station system, the sixth built in Australia and one of 19 around the country. Opened 1 October 1912 it operated from 8am to midnight every day of the week, and was one of the first points of contact for ships sailing south from Hong Kong and Japan. Apart from its major function of listening for ships' messages, Adelaide also handled traffic to and from the State telegraph system, and broadcast time signals to shipping. By 1963 the rapid industrialisation of the Rosewater area had increased electrical interference to the point where a move to a new site became necessary and the operation was moved to McLaren Vale where it operated until 1993 when it was shut down.[8]

In the 1980s the extension and widening of Grand Junction Road and the construction of the Redhill Bridge spelt the end for many of the small shops in the area and property value experienced a slump. Since the start of the 21st century, with the new developments of Port Adelaide, the area is experiencing somewhat of a revival as is evidenced by the rising property value.


A small recreational area in Rosewater called "Duffield Playground"

Prior to European settlement the Rosewater area was mainly swampy marshlands of stagnant water. Today the area is almost entirely urbanised with only a small swamp area left next to the Redhill Bridge. The Eric Sutton Oval is one of two reserves in the area, with the other, Duffield Playground, a short distance away.


According to the 2001 Census the population of Rosewater is 3,274 and this is split almost evenly between male and female with only 8 more women than men. Of the local population 66% were born in Australia and 90% are Australian citizens, while the indigenous population makes up 2.7% of the total.

Using the selected averages from the 2001 Census, the average Rosewater resident is 38 years old, with a median weekly individual income of $200–$299. The median family income is $600–$699 per week with an average household size of 2.2 people.

As a whole, the Rosewater area has an average religious affiliation (67.8%) with Christians accounting for 59.2% of the total population. The top ten religious affiliations (in descending order) were: Catholic, Anglican, Uniting Church, Buddhism, Orthodox, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Baptist and Islam.[1]

2002 State Election
  Labor 49.8%
  Liberal 18.7%
  Independent 12.5%
  Democrats 6.4%
  SA First 4.4%
2004 Federal Election
  Labor 54.5%
  Liberal 31.9%
  Greens 5.4%
  Family First 4.8%
  Democrats 2%


Rosewater is split between two state electoral districts - north of Grand Junction Road is considered part of the Port Adelaide district, while south is considered part of the Cheltenham electorate. In federal politics, the suburb is part of the electorate of Port Adelaide, which is represented by Mark Butler MP. The results shown here are from the Rosewater polling booth which is located at Mount Carmel College.

Places of interest[edit]

Mount Carmel College in Rosewater

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b 2001 Australian Bureau of Statistics census data for Rosewater
  2. ^ Adelaide Radio (VIA)
  3. ^ a b Couper-Smartt, J (February 2003). Port Adelaide: Tales from a "Commodious Harbour". Friends of the South Australian Maritime Museum Inc. ISBN 0-646-42058-5. 
  4. ^ Cockburn, Rodney (1984). What's in a name? Nomenclature of South Australia. Gillingham Printers Pty Ltd. ISBN 0-9592519-1-X. 
  5. ^ Cockburn, Rodney (1984). What's in a name? Nomenclature of South Australia. Gillingham Printers Pty Ltd. ISBN 0-9592519-1-X. 
  6. ^ Manning, Geoffrey H. (1990). Manning’s Place Names of South Australia. Published by author. ISBN 05437687505. 
  7. ^ Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Premier Postal Auctions. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  8. ^ AdelaideRadio 1912 – 1993 by Paddy Wilkinson VIA 1978-1993.
  9. ^ Rosewater Bowling Club
  10. ^ Rosewater Football Club
  11. ^ Rosewater Social Sports Club
  12. ^ Mount Carmel College

External links[edit]