Throughout the nineteenth century, Morphett Vale was the first substantial town to the south of Adelaide. The centre of a large farming hinterland, the settlement had, by 1840, the early signs of its future growth. In October of that year, a town named Dublin was subdivided and this development was the first of many that eventually merged as the town of Morphett Vale. The promoters of Dublin argued that their aim was to provide land at reasonable prices and to bring workers to the ‘thriving district’. Other subdivisions followed, including one called Catherine by Alexander Anderson in about 1855. By 1866, the town was said to have ‘a large number of neat residences, many of which have fine vineyards attached’.
The place itself was named after John Morphett, one of South Australia’s European founders. Within a short time after settlement, the town boasted a number of churches
and chapels, a brewery, a wind flour mill, a court house and police station. Well known local families included Anderson, Smith, Easton, O’Sullivan, Benny, Taylor, Wakefield, and Bain.
Primarily a district of cereal farms, mixed farms and vineyards, Morphett Vale was known as a strong community. The District Council of Morphett Vale was formed in 1852 and continued until 1932 when it amalgamated with Noarlunga.
Sporting clubs also flourished in the town. During the Second World War, the district became a major producer of flax and a flax mill worked successfully producing yarn for linen fabric and thread. Many from the Women’s Land Army joined in the flax harvest in those years.
Because of Morphett Vale’s proximity to Adelaide, its hinterland was one of the first
affected by the spread of suburbia in the 1950s and 1960s.