The name Cudlee Creek is derived from the Aboriginal Kaurna or Peramangk word "Coodla" meaning Wild Dog (Dingo)
The township is located on Gorge Road, in the beautiful Torrens Gorge about 28 kilometres from Adelaide (via Athelstone and the Gorge Road).
The ABS 2016 census records 421 people living in Cudlee Creek. (a decrease of 52 since the 2011 census)
The District of Cudlee Creek is bounded by,
Paracombe in the north, Lobethal in the south, Gumeracha in the east and Castambul to the west;
it includes the local areas of Cudlee Creek, Fox’s Creek, Hollands Creek, Millbrook, The Prairie and Chain of Ponds.
The area was first settled by William Kelly, his wife and baby daughter, (Kelly is believed to have been the first white man to have visited the area),
they arrived in Adelaide in December 1838, and settled at Cudlee Creek a few months later (late 1839 early 1840).
The early pioneer families include the Kelly’s, Fox’s, Hannaford’s, Redden’s, Farnham’s, Bank’s, Wakefield’s, Dennis’, McNamara’s, Kennings’, Ludewigs’, Dickson’s, Schlein’s, Tippett’s, Pool’s, Barty’s, Minogue’s, Lambert’s, Crouch’s, Hoad’s, Curtis’ and Hatchard’s.
The following article describing the drive from Adelaide to Cudlee Creek via the Gorge Road, (which
was opened in November 1921), appeared in an Adelaide newspaper in 1922.
A distance of about 28 kilometres it remains one of the most beautiful scenic drives in Australia.
"If an unlabelled moving picture of the Gorge road were thrown on the screen people would ask where it was. The route is an eye-opener in rugged beauty. For most of the 17 miles, from the time the gateway is entered at Athelstone, the track runs between massive, rock-ribbed, tree-spread cliffs which climb hundreds of feet, and seem to meet the blue sky. From the moment you get into contact with the great panorama, it is a wonderland of wild, decorative effects, carried out by Nature to big scale. The road has the appearance of a bold, tiny interloper, twisting in and out among the boulders with flimsy, and almost precarious, audacity. Looking up on one side you see the hills, mottled by shadows on a sunny afternoon, lean their grey bulk against a radiant back ground. On the other the jagged, broken rock offers, at times, a rather uncomfortable proximity, supplying a striking colour contrast with their red and dark blue and brown faces. Running along this 24-ft. thoroughfare, amid some of the most impressive open-air sculpture to be seen in Australia, you involuntarily duck now and then, in expectation of being hit by one of these giant fists. Then, right underneath, flows with placid grace, the little creek, framed in brilliant green rushes or tender fern. When the towering avenues disappear, as it were, into the wings of this magnificent stage, there come through the scattered gums glimpses of fruit gardens, designed as symmetrically as a draught board, or arranged in marvelous rows of potato and tomato plants, suggesting the faultless elegance of the top lines in a copy book. So you get on this excursion up the Gorge road, the blend of dainty, man-made utilities and the moving grandeur of God-made scenery."
The Register (Adelaide, SA.) 20 January 1922
"PICTURES ON THE GORGE ROAD."
The early pioneers of the Cudlee Creek District endured much hardship, not only to establish their holdings, but also to get into
and out of the district as there were no roads or bridges and the tracks had to cross the river bed.
Prior to the construction of the Gorge Road, Cudlee Creek was initially reached along the bed of the River Torrens (when it was not flowing), and later, after the North East Road was opened in the 1870's, via Tea Tree Gully or Anstey's Hill all of which were extremely difficult journeys.
"Several parties have bitterly complained to us of the impassable state of the road between Adelaide and the Reedy Creek mine, by the Chain of Ponds. A gig was stuck in the centre of the road last Friday, and the driver, a Mr East, was unable to extricate it without the assistance of several passing travellers. This is the more felt as there is a mail just established on that route, and unless something is done for its improvement it will be utterly impossible for the carriers to accomplish their journeys within the prescribed period. Besides this consideration there is a largely increased traffic on that road now, and it is high time for the Government to adopt some measure to facilitate the communication between that populous part of the country and the metropolis.”
Adelaide Times, 16 October 1848
An early photo showing the track to Cudlee Creek along the bed of the River Torrens.
Photo Circa 1870 - slsa B 1885
“In 1853, he [Alfred Hardy, 18 March 1863, Supervising Surveyor for the North-Eastern district] said, there had been only three miles of metalled road between Adelaide and the O.G. public house. The remainder of the track to Gumeracha was part swamp where drays could be bogged for the whole winter. A horseman, by using “the greatest exertion would take from morning to night to reach Gumeracha, and then he thought himself lucky if he arrived there without accident. With the improvements and a metalled road all the way, the same journey could be comfortably accomplished in four hours. When the road was completed to Blumberg in the following year, he said, there would only be 25 miles left to Mannum”
(Bill Stacy, 1982, Highway South Australia, October, Highways Department, Adelaide)
“... setting forth the bad state of the above road. It stated that drays sent especially to Gumeracha some time since had been compelled to return empty, and that even horse teams had been unable to get further than Breakneck Hill.”
Adelaide Observer, 1 July 1854
“... If they wished to continue the increase of their exports of wheat and flour, they must devise some improvement in the present system of road-making. ... At nearly every meeting on the subject of roads, held during the last five or six years ... the Central Road Board had been universally held up to opprobrium. And he had only to refer to the vacillation and want of system displayed, by the Board in the management of their own North-Eastern-road to prove their utter incapacity. In the first instance they refused to recognise it as a main road. After they had declared it to be a main line, they resolved that it should go by way of the Teatree Gully. They subsequently agreed to reopen the question, received memorials and counter memorials, deputations, &c., and at last their united wisdom brought them to the conclusion that two main lines of road were required — one leaving Adelaide by Bailey’s Garden, Paradise, and Anstey’s Hill; and the other by the Company’s Mill, through the Teatree Gully. Both of these roads were then united about 12 or 13 miles from the starting point. Thus the money voted for the North-Eastern-road had been so divided as to make two bad roads, instead of one good one. ...”
SA Register, 5 August 1857
South Australian Chronicle March 23rd 1863
In 1851 the government decided that two "main" roads should be constructed, (which would converge at
to service the upper reaches of the Torrens Valley, one via Anstey's Hill (Lower North East Road)
the other via tea Tree Gully (Main North East Road), to the Gumeracha
Bridge, from where it would continue to Stony Creek (Torrens Valley Road).
This route was approved by the Central Road Board in July 1853.
The Gumeracha Bridge was opened on 5th February 1858 by Miss Esther Kelly, (the first resident European female bornin the district), after which (Not before!) it was subjected to a load test.
…The members and officers of the Board proceeded then to test the deflection. The bridge was subjected to a pressure of between 30 and 40 tons, being covered with dray-loads of sand, and every vacant space covered up with horsemen or bullock teams. The result was its yielding only one-sixteenth part of an inch. We believe this to be a most unusual instance of strength and solidity. …
The South Australian Register - Monday February 8th 1858)
The people of the Upper Torrens Valley, disheartened by their isolation, began a campaign to enlist the governments support to
provide access to their area.
In 1912 they lobbied for a railway line to be constructed along the banks of the River Torrens.
“The residents are now fully alive to the fact that a railway must come direct from the city to part of the Torrens Valley, and at a not far distant date. The main road to the city is in some places almost impassable for vehicles with heavy loads. Nearly 100,000 cases of export apples will be sent away from the district this season, and many more would be forwarded if only they could be landed at Port Adelaide by a cheaper and more modern means of transit.”
“Torrens Valley Railway”, Mount Barker Courier, 22 March 1912.)
The request, however, was unsuccessful, but, at about the same time, the people of Castambul succeeded in their request to have
a road [Gorge Road] built along the banks of the River Torrens from the Torrens Weir at
Athelstone to Castambul, which including a bridge over Sixth Creek, was completed by January 1914.
This led to a campaign to have the Gorge Road extended to connect with the Main North East Road at the Gumeracha Bridge Cudlee Creek. This campaign was helped by the government’s decision to build a reservoir at Millbrook.
The road between Castambul and Gumeracha was begun in 1915, but was suspended in 1916 due to the war effort. Construction was resumed in 1919 and the road opened in November 1921. However the Metalling (The Latin for a mine or quarry is metallum; so the material from a quarry used for road building is called “metal”) was not completed until 1924 .
“The construction of this highway was authorised about eight years ago in order to alleviate the position of producers in the Gumeracha districts en route, who are not served by a railway, and, as far as can be seen at present, must depend upon road carriage. The old Gumeracha-road climbs 1,400 ft. with grades of 1 in 8 and 1 in 10. Produce carried on it must be hauled over three high hills, of which Anstey’s Hill is perhaps the best known. This must have for many years been a severe handicap to gardeners and others who had to market what their land produced. The new road is such a vastly different proposition, however, that although it is still practically little better than when the track was hewn out of the hillside — for the metalling has only just begun — it is already preferred by the market gardeners to the old road. When it is finished it will be a boon. ...
Chronicle (Adelaide) 28th January 1922
"...Eventually there will be a stretch of 17 miles from Athelstone to the Gumeracha Bridge with a gradient of no more than 1 in 25 — a gentle rise of a thousand feet compared with three bad hills rising 1,400 ft. … The roadway is 24 ft. wide, and for a long distance the main pipe line from Millbrook Reservoir is laid in a channel at one side. There are five concrete bridges in the total length, for the road crosses the river five times — it follows the course of the stream for 14 miles. These bridges have excited the admiration of engineers all over the Commonwealth and are a triumph for Mr. Fleming. They are all concrete arch structures, on the cantilever principle, the longest span being 102 ft. They are beautiful bridges and practically everlasting. One of the features is the concrete parapet on each side, which is of graceful design. The successive bridges from west to east are named Bachelor’s, Crouch’s, Hoad’s, Union, and Monfries’, four of them being named after old settlers on nearby holdings. In one place, in order to avoid cutting away a cliff, a concrete overhang, 200 ft. long, was constructed. In this way the ingenuity of the engineer saved an expenditure of about £3,000. …”
Chronicle (Adelaide), 28 January 1922
The lobbying of the residents of the upper reaches of the Torrens Valley, combined with the government’s decision to build reservoirs at Millbrook and Mount Crawford plus the fact that motor vehicles were experiencing difficulties in negotiating the steep grades of the Main North East Road forced the government to agree to construct the Gorge Road from Athelstone to the Gumeracha Bridge. This was the largest undertaking ever attempted in South Australia.
The first section, of about three miles (nearly 5 kilometres), from the weir at Athelstone to Castambul, included a simple bridge across Sixth Creek (The Corkscrew) was completed in December 1913.
“What will certainly become one of the “show” routes in the ranges is the new road through the Torrens Gorge ... recently completed by the Government ... a pleasing drive of three miles along the southern bank of the Torrens brings one to the junction of two district roads. Already the gardeners and others in the neighbourhood of Montacute and Castambul, and beyond, have taken advantage of the regular and easy gradients the Gorge-road offers. The Corkscrew leading to the Sixth Creek-road has been abandoned by all who could make use of the new track.
Advertiser, 17 January 1914
The final section, between Castambul and the Gumeracha Bridge, was begun in 1915 to relieve unemployment and was finally completed in 1924.
The Government are anxious to put in hand as quickly as possible work to relieve unemployment. The Commissioner of Crown Lands (Hon. G. Goode), who has control of the Roads Department, stated on Monday that during the next week or two work would be started on the new Torrens Gorge Road, absorbing from 650 to 700 men.
Advertiser, 11 May 1915
The first bridge built in the district was a timber bridge at Inglewood in 1851; this was replaced with a masonry arch bridge in
1863. The first bridge across the upper
reaches of the River Torrens was the Gumeracha Bridge in 1858, this was a laminated timber arch bridge which was upgraded to a
steel arch on the same abutments in 1887.
In 1861 a laminated timber arch bridge was constructed at Blumberg (Birdwood) which was replaced with a
concrete encased steel arch bridge in 1915. The Sunning Hill Bridge (now submerged below the Millbrook Reservoir)
was built across the Chain of Ponds Creek in 1863. The original Chain of Ponds Bridge, on the North East Road,
was a reinforced concrete construction built in 1917 and was replaced by the current bridge when the North East Road was realigned
Prior to the construction of bridges the River Torrens could only be crossed by fording the dried up or slow flowing river, which became a very dangerous and difficult exercise as the flow of the river increased. Before road bridges were built some foot bridges had been constructed, but they also were subject to the flow of the river, and were often impassable, and sometimes even washed away by the flooded river.
The wooden construction Union Bridge, built in 1871, was the first bridge built across what is now known as the Gorge Road. This was replaced during the construction of the Gorge Road by a steel arched, concrete encased bridge (also called the Union Bridge) in 1917. The Prairie Bridge, a timber deck on riveted steel girders, was built across the River Torrens (1909) at the bottom of Prairie Road to provide access to Paracombe via Torrens Hill Road ( known locally as “Billy Goat Hill” because of its steep winding nature), this was prior to Torrens Hill Road being realigned to remove some very sharp and dangerous bends which had caused vehicles to plunge into the River Torrens below resulting in injury and even death.
During the construction of the original Gorge Road (1912-1925) six bridges were built across the River Torrens and a concrete deck on concrete piers, called The Cantilever (although it was not actually a cantilever) was cut into the side of the steep wall of the Torrens Gorge.
Over the years Cudlee Creek has had several important centres for the local community, (and later for tourists)
They include The Old Creamery, The Gorge Kiosk, Cudlee Creek Co-operative Cold Store, and The Cudlee Creek Soldiers Memorial Hall.
In later years the The Gorge Wild Life Park (founded in 1965) also become an attraction of the district.
Built in about 1882 as a branch of the Gumeracha Butter Factory, this historic building has had a variety of uses over the years.
When first built it served as a creamery for the many dairies in the area (hence the name), but after a few years the business declined and the building was vacated.
It was then left unused for some time, until Allen Noble converted it into a cheese factory. However this venture was also unsuccessful as the Cudlee Creek District had become primarily a fruit growing district, and, as the demand for fruit increased, people left the dairy industry in favour of fruit growing.
It again lay idle until Arthur Rhodes converted it to the districts first General Store.
For many years it served as the General Store, Post Office and Telephone Exchange, it was the centre of the community, and was known as "The Old Creamery" by the locals.
In later years, after the the telephone exchange became automatic, and the Post Office was relocated to the Gorge Kiosk, it became "The Cudlee Cafe".
Today (2017) "The Cudlee Cafe" is a favourite with locals and tourists for meals and coffee, with a breakfast menu until 12pm, and a variety of choices all day.
The Gorge Kiosk and Picnic Grounds have been popular with tourists and locals since established in 1924.
Lewis Fisher, opened the kiosk in 1924 and the following article appeared in the The News (Adelaide, SA), Friday 28 November 1924, page 11.
"GORGE ROAD ATTRACTION
Recreation Reserve Popular
One of the ambitions of Mr. L. Fisher, owner of the Gorge Road Kiosk and recreation reserve, is to make the place one of the finest picnic grounds in the State. He has already done much toward that end, and his efforts are being recognised by the motoring public.
Mr. Fisher has performed an excellent service to the community by preserving, for the benefit of the people, the whole of the 10 acres of land which he owns at the Gorge road, near the Cudlee Creek bridge, about 16 miles from Adelaide. The task he has set himself will be expensive, but he is determined to see it through.
The Gorge road, which was recently, completed by the Government, has already achieved fame in all parts of the Commonwealth for its scenic beauty hundreds of interstate visitors have expressed the opinion that the beauty of the drive along that road is equal to any motor drive in any part of the Commonwealth. Varied mountainous scenery, overhanging moss-covered rocks, and wooded slopes provide a glorious picture for the whole of the drive.
The property owned by Mr. Fisher is the only place available for picnics and recreation, and it is the owner's intention to develop it in the best possible manner. Already he has done much. A fine kiosk measuring 42 ft. by 24 ft. with verandah all round has been erected, and is becoming a popular meeting place for motoring parties. Mr. Fisher intends to build other shade tables on the reserve, and to lay down tennis courts and a cricket pitch for the benefit of visitors. Special parking space will be set aside to accommodate more than 500 cars.
The picnic ground is situated in a beautiful spot. On three sides the Torrens flows with the hills for a back ground and the Gorge Road provides the frontage.
Mr. Fisher says that he has received so many requests from city business people to convert the place into a residential resort that he intends to build small bungalows for people who desire to spend the week-end there."
If anyone can help me with any information here I would appreciate it, ( Email Bill), thanks Bill
On July 11th 2017 Weekend Notes published an article on the
Gorge Road as it is today (2017) by Michael Genrich.
Kangaroo Creek Dam
The Kangaroo Creek Dam was first propsed in 1925, however it was 1962 before a submission was made to the Public Works Commitee
to construct the the dam.
The following article is an exract from an article
"Gumeracha District—A Vital Link in the Metropolitan Adelaide Water Supply"
that appeared in the TORENS VALLEY HISTORICAL JOURNAL No. 37 December 1990
Kangaroo Creek Dam
The most recent development in the scheme was the construction of Kangaroo Creek Dam. Following a series of floods which resulted in considerable property damage, public demands for remedial action became ever stronger. In 1925, the then Engineer-in-Chief proposed flood mitigation works on the River Torrens which included a regulating dam to be located either two les below Birdwood or at Kangaroo Creekl . The former site proved to be too far upstream to command a large enough catchment and so the Kangaroo Creek site became the final choice, although matters did not proceed at that time.
With a growing demand for water in the mid 1950's, the proposal was again put forward and in 1962 a supmission was made to the Public Works Committee to construct the dam. Initially a concrete arch dam was proposed for the site but after further study of the abutment geology, this was abandoned in favour of a rockfill dam2.
Work on the diversion tunnel was started in August 1966. Work on the dam proper commenced in January 1968 and was completed in October, 1969. The reservoir began to fill in September 1969 and the dam was officially opened on the 5th December, 1969 by the Premier of South Australia, the Honourable R. Steele Hall3. Originally, the dam was designed to withstand floods with a return period of 10,000 years. Further analysis of flood frequency, carried out as part of the River Torrens Flood Mitigation Study (EWS, 1980) revealed that the dam would only withstand a flood with a return period of 500 years. The study recommended that the dam and spillway be modified to pass a flood with a return period of 50,000 years4. The modifications involved raising the crest of the dam and the top of the spillway by 2.75 metres and inserting into the wall of the spillway two outlet ducts, 4 metres wide by 3 metres high. Although the height of the dam and spillway was raised, the ducts give a lower overflow level than previously. Full supply storage of the reservoir will thus be reduced from 24,400 Ml to 19,160 Ml r I overflow frequency will be increased slightly from the previous 2.5 years5.
1 Smith, C.L. and Twidale, C.R., An Historical Account of Flooding and Related Events in the Torrens River System, Vol.3.
2 EWS, Kangaroo Creek Dam—Historical Account of Construction and Operations.
4 EWS 1981, River Torrens Flood Mitigation Study Technical Report No. 4—Probable Maximum Torrens Valley Historical Journal - Number 36 21
5 Department of Environment and Planning 1981, Assessment of the Environmental Impact of the River Torrens Flood Mitigation Study Proposed by the S.A. Engineering and Water Supply Department.
Kangaroo Creek Dam Upgrade
SA Water is currently (2016) upgrading Kangaroo Creek Dam further.
The latest upgrade will ensure the dam complies with ANCOLD (Australian National Committee on Large Dams) standards.
Construction began in late 2015, and completion is expected by September 2018.
The work will widen the spillway raise the wall and strengthen the wall and the upgrades will help manage major floods and increase the dam's ability to withstand earthquakes but will not increase the dam’s capacity, as the spillway height will be unchanged.
The dam's existing flood management will be operational throughout the project.
For more details visit - SA Water Web Site - 2016
I will be posting photos of the progress.
Kangaroo Creek Dam - 2nd September 2016
(Photo (©) - Peg & Bill Chartres' collection - circa 2016)
Kangaroo Creek Dam - 3rd May 2017
(Photo (©) - Peg & Bill Chartres' collection - circa 2016)
The Gorge Road Today
View his article Here. Gorge Road article Then click back in your browser to return to this page.
Come and visit our display for a wonderful Christmas experience,
or email us with your thoughts about our Web Site.
We would love to hear from you.
Best Wishes, Bill & Peg
Our original site was created in March 1988, and we moved to our own Domain in November 2014
On July 11th 2017 Weekend Notes published an article on the
Gorge Road as it is today (2017) by Michael Genrich.