Colony's chambers of commerce (1836) and manufacturers (1869) the first in Australia

South Australia Chamber of Manufacturers, formed in 1869, based at the exhibition building on North Terrace, Adelaide, in 1903. 
Image courtesy State Library of South Australia

South Australia created both Australia’s first chamber of commerce and industry by 1839 – three years after European settlement – and, in 1869, Australia’s first chamber of manufactures.

Those two business lobby and support groups eventually merged in 1972 as the Chamber of Commerce and Industry SA.

In 1993, a further merger involved the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the South Australian Employers' Federation to form the South Australian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

This led to the launch in 2000 of Business SA as a new name and a image for the state's leading business and employer group.

Master Builders Association of South Australia (Master Builders SA) was started in 1884 to represent South Australia’s building and construction industry.
It continues to represent a complex sector comprising commercial builders, civil contractors, residential builders and specialist contractors as well as industry suppliers and manufacturers.

South Australia’s building and construction industry directly employs more than 55,000 South Australians.

The Motor Trade Association of South Australia originated in 1926 as the Garage Proprietors & Petrol Retailers Association of SA. It later became known as the South Australian Automobile Chamber of Commerce, until 1986 when the Motor Trade Association brand was adopted.

The South Australian Chamber of Mines & Energy (SACOME) is the peak industry body representing companies with interests in minerals, energy, oil and gas and extractive sectors. SACOME is a not-for-profit, non-government organisation focused on promoting, representing and connecting participants in the South Australia's resources sector.

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John Dunn builds South Australia's second mill at Mount Barker in 1844 and expands to own 11

John Dunn’s steam mill at Mount Barker, working from 1844, was the second in Australia when South Australia was its only wheat-producing colony. Soon John Ridley's, John Hart’s, Thomas Magarey's and other brands of flour also were exported from South Australia to other Australian colonies then overseas. But Dunn’s milling and grain business grew to 11 mills, from Hawker to Port Pirie to Murray Bridge. A Devon small farmer’s son, Dunn had worked as a servant at 10, before being apprenticed to a miller and rising to mill manager and mill owner in 1836. He followed his brothers, arriving with his family at Port Adelaide in 1840. He worked with Borrow & Goodiar before buying land near his brother's property at Hay Valley (near Nairne) that he farmed and, in 1842, built possibly Australia’s first windmill for grinding flour. Wind limited its use and he ordered a small steam engine from England. While waiting, he worked for John Ridley, helping to building his famous reaper and proving its performance on D. McFarlane's land at Mount Barker. For a time, Dunn managed the South Australian Company’ first steam mill in Adelaide, set up by William Randell Snr. John Dunn was prominent in Mount Barker as district council chairman and representing it in the first Legislative Assembly (1857) and later Legislative Council. A Wesleyan Methodist, he paid to build what became Dunn Memorial Church, opened on his 90th birthday in 1884 at Mount Barker. He paid for houses for local invalid elderly and left big bequests to charities, many associated with the Methodist Church and Prince Alfred College.

John Acraman makes a fortune supplying 1850s gold rush via River Murray steamboats

John Acraman, already from a wealthy English merchant family, made a fortune shipping goods from Adelaide to Melbourne during the 1850s gold boom. Acraman arrived in Adelaide in 1848 to join the business of his eldest brother Edward and James Cooke but found that his brother had died. Acraman partnered with Cooke and was visiting India in 1851 when he heard about the Victorian gold find and returned to Adelaide. Acraman & Cooke made huge profits from the gold boom by shipping goods to Melbourne. With timber in high demand, they employed two pairs of sawyers in a sawpit in Currie Street, Adelaide, to cut it. They bought River Murray steamboats that proved the best way, with bullock teams, to serve the goldfields. Branches at Melbourne and Bendigo were run by James Cooke and Archibald Cooke. Acraman ended his partnership with Cooke in 1855 and, with George Main and John Lindsay, formed a company with diverse interests, from coastal and River Murray shipping and insurance to pastoral runs in the Gawler Ranges. Acraman, Main, Lindsay & Co. acted as agents for Guinness Stout from 1875. John Acraman also represented Royal Insurance Company in South Australia 1851-91. For more than 30 years, he was South Australian Gas Company chairman plus a director of Adelaide and Suburban Tramway Company, Glenelg Railway Co. and other businesses. Besides having a crater, lake and creek  in South Australia’s far north named after him, John Acraman’s love of sport led to another legacy: founding the original Adelaide Football Club in 1859. 

John Darling becomes Australia's grain king taking South Australian wheat to the world

John Darling founded a major business dynasty in Adelaide with a wheat merchant and flour milling company that became Australia’s largest. Born in Edinburgh, Darling left the George Heriot free school at 11 after his father died. With few prospects, he later decided to follow friends, including Alexander Dowie and Joseph Ferguson, to South Australia. He arrived in 1855 with his wife and two sons and, four days later, he was working in the Rundle Street, Adelaide, store of Berry & Gall. Next job was with baker Robert Birrell of Grenfell Street. After two years, he tried working as a contractor with a horse and cart and helped start his wife in a store next to the Stag Inn on Rundle Street. This failed, so they built Millbrook Store on Glen Osmond Road, that became profitable. Darling learned the wheat and flour business during five years with James Smith, of Giles & Smith, who had a West Terrace flour mill. In 1865, Darling left to trade on his own. Two years later, he took over the Waymouth Street grain stores of R. G. Bowen and, in 1872, brought son John into the business. With branches in South Australia's wheat belt, John Darling & Son invested in many farms and flour mills, bought grain from growers and exported extensively to eastern Australia. When Victoria became self supporting in grain, Darling went international. He travelled overseas in 1871 and was soon shipping cargoes to many European ports. In the 1880s, he became the “grain king” as Australia’s biggest wheat shipper. By 1890, the firm had major interests in flour milling and shipping, and a large London office. 

Bill Wittber's 1910 hop in Bleriot XI monoplane at Bolivar claimed as Australia's first flight

The first attempts to taxi the Bleriot XI monoplane, brought to Adelaide by businessman Fred Jones, in a Bolivar paddock, north of the city, on Sunday, March 13, 1910, were stopped by bad weather. Later, engineer Carl Wilhelm “Bill” Wittber, who'd assembled the plane for Jones, did the first taxiing trials with various throttle settings. When Wittber tried 50%- 60% power, the aircraft rose about five feet and travelled for about 40 yards before landing. This Wittber hop was seen by a large crowd and was reported in The Register as a powered, sustained and controlled flight. On March 17 at Bolivar, volunteer pilot Fred Custance was at the controls for another flight attempt, as Jones, farmer Albert Winzor and two neighbours watched. The Register’s (unverified) report was that: “After covering about 18 yards, the machine rose 12 feet in the air, and at this height made a circuit of the paddock thrice, a total distance of about three miles, in five minutes and 25 seconds. Jones’s own version was that Custance did taxi around the paddock about three times before a first “very wobbly” straightforward flight of about one minute, ending with a “very rough landing”. Against Jones’s wishes, Custance made another attempt to create an Australian record – and crashed the plane. The damaged aircraft was returned to Adelaide and delivered to Duncan & Fraser for repairs. In May 1910, a fire destroyed the plane but the engine was recovered. Wittber persevered. From 1911, he designed and built his own plane, even adding his own six-cylinder radial engine – another Australian first.

Australia's first mosque built by 'Afghan' cameleers working for Thomas Elder stations

Islam came to South Australia in 1865 with 31 “Afghan” (actually mostly from British-ruled India) camel handlers. They were recruited to manage camels imported by Thomas Elder and Samuel Stuckey to carry stores to and from Lake Hope and Beltana stations.They used desert springs as places of worship. This developed into Australia’s first mosque at Marree (Hergott Springs). Australia’s oldest surviving mosque from 1889 is in Adelaide city’s south-western Little Gilbert Street.


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