Coastal fortifications in South Australia – Fact sheet 91

South Australia's colonial defences

Chart showing arcs of fire available from Fort Glanville and Fort Largs, South Australia, 1903.

South Australia's major defences before 1901 comprised the following facilities:

  • the forts at Largs and Glanville, both located on the coast facing into Gulf St Vincent (the forts were linked by the Military Road from Glenelg to Largs);
  • the Torpedo Station on Port River; and
  • the cruiser Protector, which was in service from 1884. The Protector was transferred to the Commonwealth defence service on Federation in 1901.

The military installations also played some part in the 1914–18 and 1939–45 wars. Fort Glanville has been restored and is now a popular Adelaide tourist attraction.

Records relating to colonial defence fortifications in South Australia

The National Archives office in Adelaide holds a range of records relating to Fort Glanville and Fort Largs, and more limited information on the Port River Torpedo Station. Minutes of the colonial Defence Committee and annual returns of military and naval resources of the colony are also held. Details of records held are provided in the table below. Log books for the Protector from 1884 until it was decommissioned from the Royal Australian Navy in 1921 are held in our Sydney office.

Plans, drawings and photographs


Policy and administrative records

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesDefence Schemes by the Colonial Defence Committee1886–93AP613/8
SeriesAnnual returns of military and naval resources of South Australia1887–1914AP613/6
SeriesDefence Committee minute book1894–1901AP39/1
ItemPort Adelaide Torpedo station1916–29A569, B1925/2573
ItemObsolete six-inch guns – Fort Largs1928–29D845, 1928/48


Records held in Sydney

Records held by other institutions

State Records of South Australian has a significant collection of records dealing with the defence of South Australia before Federation.

State Records of South Australia
GPO Box 464
Adelaide SA 5001

Tel: (08) 8343 6800
Fax: (08) 8204 8777

Research Centre:
115 Cavan Road
Gepps Cross SA 5094

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019