|Search this Site | Contacts | Positions Vacant | Media Releases | Links | Home|
History Resource Centre
Roads Through History is a joint project between Transport SA and the History Trust of South Australia. This project presents an illustrated record of the history of road-making across South Australia, based on Transport SA’s Heritage Collection of road construction equipment and other objects, in particular equipment used during the days of the former Highways Department, a predecessor the current Transport SA.
The name, structure, operations and scope of the government agency responsible for road construction and maintenance changed over time. It has variously been called the Central (and Local) Board of Main Roads (1849 to 1917), the Local Government Department (1917 to 1926) after which the Department of Highways and Local Government came into being. In 1969 Highways and Local Government separated and road-making became the responsibility of the Highways Department. The name changed again in 1989 when the Highways Department was abolished and the Department of Road Transport was created. In 1992 the authority was called the Road Transport Agency, in 1995 it was the Department of Transport and finally in 1998 was named Transport SA. The term Highways Department has remained in common use by the general public and employees to describe this government agency.
Over many years Highways Department/Transport SA employees, committed to preserving the history of the ‘Department’, retained a number of pieces of superseded plant equipment used in the construction of highways and roads throughout South Australia. Some items have been restored and proudly grace the gardens of offices and depots of Transport SA throughout the State.
Only a small number of pieces still remain to illustrate how the rapid changes in technology continually improved the construction of roads for traffic throughout South Australia. The ‘Department’ always maintained a policy of continual upgrade in equipment ensuring the highest standard of road-making, capitalising on immediate residual value changeovers. The often severe conditions, under which both men and machines worked, meant that other pieces succumbed to the ravages of their environment. Some of these have had their role in road construction and maintenance captured in photographs, and in the recorded memories of men who worked with them.
Sincere thanks to everyone who contributed to this project.
Past and present employees of Transport SA for information, photographs and interviews.
References used in the Roads Through History project:
Donovan, Peter, Highways: A History of the South Australian Highways Department (Department of Road Transport, South Australia, 1991).
Excell, Alec and Story, Margaret, A Brief History of the Excell Blacksmith & Engineering Museum at Tumby Bay (District Council of Tumby Bay, Eyre Peninsula, South Australia, n.d.).
Highway: Official Journal of Highways and Local Government Department Social Club, 1959-1987.
Lay, M.G., Ways of the World: A History of the World’s Roads and of the Vehicles that Used Them (Primavera, Sydney, 1993).
Morton, Peter, After Light: A History of Adelaide and its Council 1878-1928 (Adelaide City Council, South Australia, 1991).
Nicol, Stuart, Bullock Tracks and Bitumen: South Australia’s Motoring Heritage (Royal Automobile Association of South Australia (Inc.), South Australia, 1978).
Road-ways, (Highways Department, South Australia, 1981-1989).
South Australian Advertiser, 1859.
Stacy, Bill, “‘Good Roads are the Best Test of Civilisation’: South Australian Road Making 1836-1936”, Journal of the Historical Society of South Australia, (No 14, 1986), p 83-106.
Treloar, Wendy, Cummins: Its People and History (Lutheran Publishing House, Adelaide, n.d.).