Celebrating South Australia


2 January 1955 Black Sunday

The 2 January 1955 is known in South Australia as 'Black Sunday'. Terrible bushfires swept through the Adelaide Hills, blackening 600 square miles of country from One Tree Hill in the north to Strathalbyn in the south. Forty homes were lost as well as many other buildings, including the Upper Sturt railway station and Marble Hill, the Governor's summer residence on Norton Summit.

On that hot weekend the Governor, Sir Robert George, and his family went to stay at Marble Hill. By Sunday afternoon the smoke and heat showed that the fire was very near and in spite of the efforts of the staff with garden hoses the building suddenly caught alight. The family and staff narrowly escaped by throwing wet blankets over themselves. They huddled near a bank as the elegant old home burnt fiercely and the tower collapsed at the height of the blaze. Since then the impressive ruins have been partly restored by the National Trust but the Governors have never returned.

There was great loss of property and stock in the fires in the hills and in the south east, but only one man died, at Inglewood. Until the Ash Wednesday fires of 1983 this was the worst bushfire in the State's history.

Advertiser, 3, 4, 5 January 1955.

Alison Painter