As Colonel William Light’s survey teams worked south from Adelaide throughout 1838 and 1839, they not only mapped the newly colonised region, but also left their marks on the landscape. One such mark was a trig point or flagstaff that was left at a grid reference of 783 192. By 1842, the area near this trig point was called the Flagstaff.
In many senses, to those early colonists, the Flagstaff marked the southern outpost of settlement. From this point on, travellers ascended into the Mount Lofty Ranges and left behind the urban centre of Adelaide and its villages. Below the trig point was nestled, from 1838, the Flagstaff Inn later the Flagstaff Hotel, run by P.Lee. While this hotel’s first site is open to dispute – it could have been near the present day hotel at Darlington, or it could have been near the Victoria Hotel, O’Halloran Hill – there can be no argument that the place was known as the Flagstaff.
By the late nineteenth century, the Flagstaff was within a farming and grazing region, and had a mine, of sorts, nearby. Over the course of the twentieth century, the South Road became a most important transport route to and from the regions south of Adelaide. In the 1960s, some of the land near the Flagstaff had been earmarked for suburban development. The remaking and widening of South Road would have assisted the change from rural to urban landscape.
In 1960, Hooker Rex Estates began purchasing land in the region for subdivision and over the next decade accumulated nearly two hundred hectares. The firm prided itself on having a concept of total planning for a new suburban community they named Flagstaff Hill. The developers subdivided their first blocks in the vicinity of a golf course and also provided an oval and recreation facilities. The first 130 blocks were released in April 1967 and sold quickly. By 1984, all the developed land had been sold.
The suburb was extended in1985 when a portion of Minda Home’s Craigburn Farm was subdivided by Essington Ltd with the assistance of Hassell Planning. Spoken of as a ‘landmark residential development’, for its retention of large trees and waterways and a subdivision that worked with the shape and orientation of the land, Craigburn won a Civic Trust Award.
Flagstaff Hill adjoins the significant bushland environment of the Sturt Gorge. By the early 1970s, concerned local residents successfully lobbied for a Conservation Park at the Gorge. Today this Park is an essential part of the local community’s focus on environmental preservation