Monarto, South Australia

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South Australia
Monarto is located in South Australia
Coordinates35°04′54″S 139°07′48″E / 35.08179°S 139.129879°E / -35.08179; 139.129879Coordinates: 35°04′54″S 139°07′48″E / 35.08179°S 139.129879°E / -35.08179; 139.129879[1]
Population209 (2016 census)[2]
Established1908[citation needed]
16 March 2003 (locality)[3]
Time zoneACST (UTC+9:30)
 • Summer (DST)ACDT (UTC+10:30)
Location63 km (39 mi) from Adelaide
LGA(s)Rural City of Murray Bridge[1]
RegionMurray and Mallee[1]
State electorate(s)Kavel
Federal Division(s)Barker
Localities around Monarto:
Rockleigh Rockleigh Pallamana
Callington Monarto Pallamana
Rocky Gully
Callington Monarto South Monarto South
FootnotesAdjoining localities[1]

Monarto is a locality in South Australia 16 km (9.9 mi) west of the Murray River. It is north of the South Eastern Freeway between the Callington and Murray Bridge exits 63 km from Adelaide.

Most of the residents of Monarto run small hobby-like farms, raising cows, sheep and horses.[citation needed] Crops in the area include wheat, oats and barley.

In the 1970s Monarto was proposed to be the site of a new satellite city of Adelaide originally known as "New Murray Town".[4] By the turn of the century the proposal had been completely abandoned.



The locality of Monarto was originally a private subdivision of section 210 of the Hundred of Monarto, from which it took its name, the hundred having been gazetted in 1847.[4][5] The Hundred was named after an aboriginal woman, "Queen Monarto", who lived in the area at the time of its proclamation.[6][7] The township was laid out in 1908.[6][failed verification]

Boundaries for the locality of Monarto were created on 16 March 2000.[3][1]

Proposed city of Monarto[edit]

A project to develop a new city[edit]

In 1970 the Labor-led South Australian government headed by Don Dunstan was concerned that Adelaide would become overpopulated following rapid population growth caused by a high birth rate and high rates of immigration in the two decades prior.[8] In total population growth was in excess of 3% per annum and the government estimated the city would reach 1.5 million by the end of the century.[9] Further, the authorities believed that the growing population would sooner or later become a threat to the quality of urban life (social and environmental) which at the time was relatively high.[9][8] An expansion of the city would also threaten the attractive wine producing areas that could be found in the south and north of the city.[10]

To address the problems of Adelaide's rapidly increasing population, the state government proposed that another city should be built about 80 kilometres (50 mi) east of Adelaide. The government held the view that it would work as a kind of supporting city, where Adelaide residents could move.[10][9] The government originally used the name "Murray New Town" for the proposed city and subsequently adopted the name "Monarto" (to be formally known as the "City of Monarto").[11][12]

The government had estimated that 1.3 million was the optimal size for Adelaide which meant that Monarto would have about 200,000 people by the end of the century.[9] Monarto was to become a new city that would work as a satellite city to Adelaide and, since it was far enough away, it was important that Monarto would have its own identity and economy. This made it difficult to define what kind of city Monarto was supposed to be.[10][13]

Some people were suspicious about the project and the reasons behind it. For instance, some[who?] thought that the project was motivated by political interest and that the state government only wanted to improve its electoral prospects in nearby Murray Bridge.[8] Others believed that the state government only wanted to have a development project that was close to Adelaide and its economy, but still far enough from it to be included to the "new cities programme".[8] Additionally, a geographer called Professor Peter Scott was skeptical about the idea of a new city, pointing out that the population growth was less than had been projected.[14]

Structure of the project[edit]

The main purpose of the "new cities programme" was to facilitate decentralised policy in regional and urban planning and, by that, alleviate some of the problems of rapidly growing cities.[15][16] In the beginning there was some opposition about including the Monarto project in the programme. Nevertheless, there was also a strong consensus that in order to succeed with establishing a city, it would be crucial to have a strong public sector employment base in the early phases of development.[17] According to the Monarto development commission, Monarto was going to develop into a small city after years of working as a large country town. This attitude would come to affect planning over the area, as the commission wanted to find a balance between the natural features of the site, its built-form and infrastructure.[10]

Small-scale scenarios, such as the city centre would have public spaces as a key feature, with adjacent buildings as complement. On a broad citywide scale, key landscape features would form the basis of park lands articulating built-up areas.[18]

Dunstan, on the other hand, had his own vision of the project. According to him Monarto was going to become "a new vision of Australian city" and was going to showcase best practice in social planning and family convenience.[14] The town would not contain any dilapidated housing estates or standard housing.[19] Instead it would contain palatial town-houses and other houses that were made for civil servants.[19] The inner center would provide only leisurely cycle paths since the town should be small but beautiful, a "virgin city".[19] To secure the economy, three industrial areas with focusing on light industry were to be established. The goal was to spread South Australia's industrial base around the state.[20]

Collapse of the project[edit]

Dunstan's vision did not succeed. After year of planning and conflicts about compensation of farmland that had been compulsorily acquired, the project reached a turning point when new studies showed that the population growth was excessive.[13][14] In 1975 the federal Whitlam government was controversially dismissed which resulted in the "new cities programme" programme being shut down.[14] This was a hard about-face and, after some years, in 1980 the Monarto project faced the same outcome.[21]

There are several reasons why the development of Monarto did not take place, despite the fact that it was an ambitious project. The main factor that stopped the project was the evidence of a much smaller population growth than was projected.[18] Because of that, the government lost its main argument for building a new town. This resulted in less support from an already doubtful federal government which became unwilling to give any further aid to Dunstan's project.[14][21]

Another factor was the economic failure, a combination of lack of success in attracting private enterprises and the economic recession that occurred during the 1970s, which made it very difficult to transfer any job from Adelaide.[14][18]

A third aspect which played a more unofficial part in the downfall of the Monarto project was the constant resistance and suspicion from various interest groups. Many never really believed in the project and this may have affected the project in terms of support and financial aid. For instance, many thought the geographical location was vulnerable from an economic perspective since it was too close to Adelaide to develop an independent economy.[14] On the political level, as already mentioned, many were doubting the wisdom of the project which made it harder to get everyone to work at it in the same direction. Also, the entry of a new federal government was a direct contribution to the shutdown of the project, due to their loss of will in contributing any more money.[22]

The project of Monarto was ambitious, but the shortfall in urban planning and the different obstacles meant it remained an unrealised proposal and the plan never came to fruition. A large portion of the land targeted by the project has now been taken up by the Monarto Zoo, established in 1983.


Since the late 1900s, an industrial estate has also been established at Monarto as part of the growth of the city of Murray Bridge. Big W has a distribution center located at Monarto.[23] Other large companies with warehousing in Monarto include Scott's Transport, Holden and Inghams.[citation needed]

At the 2011 Census, residents of Monarto are mostly employed in sheep, beef cattle and grain farming (6.8%), school education (4.7%), road freight transport (3.4%), public order and safety services (3.0%) and hospitals (3.0%).[24]

At the 2016 Census, residents of Monarto are split between landscape construction services (11.4%), meat processing (9.1%), hospitals (9.1%) and dairy cattle farming (6.8%) with another 6.8% employed in oil and gas extraction.[25]

A 24-hour freight-only airport at Monarto was proposed by the Liberal party while in opposition in 2017 as part of a broader policy to create a freight bypass of Adelaide from Murray Bridge to the Barossa Valley via Truro.[26] The party was elected to government in March 2018 and the planning for the new airport and associated freight network was put to tender early July 2018.[27] Immediately afterwards a leaked report called into question the viability of the airport.[28]

Leisure and sport facilities[edit]

Monarto is home to the 1,500-hectare (3,700-acre) Monarto Zoo, the world's largest open range zoo.[29] Monarto is also the location of the Monarto Shooting Club and the Murray Bridge Motocross Club, with a track that permits both two-wheel motorcycles and quad bikes.[citation needed]


Monarto is adjacent to the main Adelaide to Wolseley line, with Monarto South station formerly a junction for the Sedan branch line running north on the plain between the Murray River and the Mount Lofty Ranges.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Search results for 'Monarto, LOCB' with the following datasets selected - 'Suburbs and localities', 'Counties', 'Hundreds', 'Local Government Areas', 'SA Government Regions' and 'Gazetteer'". Location SA Map Viewer. South Australian Government. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  2. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Monarto (State Suburb)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 22 January 2019. Edit this at Wikidata
  3. ^ a b Lawson, Robert (16 March 2003). "GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES ACT 1991, Notice to Assign Boundaries and Names to Places (in the Rural City of Murray Bridge)" (PDF). The South Australian Government Gazette. Government of South Australia: 1443. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Property Location Browser: Search for 'Monarto, LOCB (ID: SA0037209)'". Government of South Australia. Retrieved 1 April 2016. Name approved to a private subdivision of Section 210. Proposal in the early 1970s to create a satellite city to Adelaide in this area. Originally proposed to be known as Murray New Town, but Monarto accepted following discussions with Government. Boundaries created for long established name in March 2000.
  5. ^ "GOVERNMENT GAZETTE (EXTRAORDINARY). PROCLAMATION. By his Excellency FREDERICK HOLT". The South Australian. Adelaide. 3 December 1847. p. 4. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Search for 'Hundred of Monarto' (ID SA0045594)". Government of South Australia. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  7. ^ "NOMENCLATURE OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA. NAMES AND THEIR ORIGIN. XVII.—AN ALPHABETICAL REVIEW". Adelaide: Evening Journal. 29 June 1908. p. 2. Retrieved 8 June 2007. Monarto was the name of a native lubra. J. W. Bull, in his "Early Recollections," makes the following reference to a native tribe occupying a piece of country on the banks of the Murray [...] "We called their chief King John and the name of his lubra was Monarto, which was considered so pretty a name that the whites never changed it. [...]"
  8. ^ a b c d Forster 1990, p. 33.
  9. ^ a b c d Wanna 1982, p. 262.
  10. ^ a b c d Hutchings 1989, p. 171.
  11. ^ Dunstan 1972.
  12. ^ Government of South Australia 1973, p. 185.
  13. ^ a b Orchard 1999, p. 202.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Forster 1990, p. 34.
  15. ^ Playford 2007, p. 2.
  16. ^ Ward 2007, p. 37.
  17. ^ Ward 2007, p. 10.
  18. ^ a b c Hutchings 1989, p. 172.
  19. ^ a b c Wanna 1982, p. 265.
  20. ^ Wanna 1982, p. 264.
  21. ^ a b Wanna 1982, p. 267.
  22. ^ Forster 1990.
  23. ^ "Big W Distribution Centre - Monarto, SA". Archived from the original on 1 February 2008. Retrieved 7 March 2008.
  24. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Monarto (State Suburb)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 27 October 2016. Edit this at Wikidata
  25. ^ "2016 Census QuickStats: Monarto". Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  26. ^ "24 Hour Freight Airport". GlobeLink. Liberal Party of South Australia. 2017. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  27. ^ Strathearn, Peri (3 July 2018). Murray Valley Standard Missing or empty |title= (help)
  28. ^ "GlobeLink infrastructure project, including Monarto freight airport viability, questioned in leaked report". 6 July 2018. (subscription required)
  29. ^ "Zoos South Australia: Adelaide & Monarto Zoo". Retrieved 1 April 2016. Monarto Zoo is the largest open-range zoo in the world spanning more than 1,500 hectares and home to more than 500 animals and 50 species.