Thebarton Police (originally Mounted Police) Barracks Complex

Thebarton Police (originally Mounted Police) Barracks Complex

The South Australian Mounted Police Cadre was established in 1838, the oldest of its type in Australia (and possibly the oldest in the world). The mounted cadre played an important role during the 19th century in crowd control, bullion escort and prisoner escort. The old Mounted Police Barracks buildings at the rear of the South Australian Museum off North Terrace were vacated by the Mounted Police in 1917 due to the building of the new premises near Thebarton.

The site of the barracks was originally vacant parklands, made available to the police force in 1917. Construction work was completed in the same year at a cost of £16,000. Doubts as to the large cost were dispelled by the size of the site, which gave room for future expansion and exercise space for the police greys.

The original building group surrounded the central parade ground on three sides, with a kitchen/mess, administrative quarters, dormitory and stable groups, chaff mill, farriery, saddlery, exercise circuit and quarantine shed. The inspector's residence stood in relative isolation on the eastern extremity of the site.

In 1922 a shelter shed was added to the south-west corner of the main stable, allowing horses to be groomed and saddled. The next major construction projects began in 1935 with the erection of the quartermaster’s store behind the saddlery. In 1937 two of the complex’s largest facilities were completed: the dormitory at the northern face of the parade ground and the hospital, which later became the Star Force headquarters. The galvanised iron clad gymnasium was also erected at this time. Extensive additions and alterations were also made in 1938-39 and during the 1950s. Historically this period was a point of departure for the barracks and its occupants, and is reflected in the architecture. The patrol car superseded the horse, the timber-brick stables of old were replaced by iron and concrete garages, and the chaff mill and water trough by the petrol bowser and sump pit.

Since then few structural additions have occurred. Accommodation policy has dictated that existing buildings be reused and many structures used since 1958 have had several roles.


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The barracks complex significantly reflects the development of the South Australian Mounted Police and its transition to motorised patrols. The police greys are now being used to supplement foot patrols and as honour guards at ceremonial functions.

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Images of Thebarton Police (originally Mounted Police) Barracks Complex

  • Thebarton Police Barracks
Building materials
Brick, Timber
Architectural styles
3.12 Inter-War Period (c. 1915–c. 1940)
1917 -  

Additional Works

Shed Added

Construction commenced
Construction completed

Quartermaster's Store Built

Construction commenced
Construction completed

Northern Dormitory, Hospital and Gymnasium built

Construction commenced
Construction completed
Architecture and design features
Engineering features
Precinct Parkland Name
Bonython Park / Tulya Wardli
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
Government of South Australia
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Civic, Police
AS2482 classification
14570 - Police Station
Public Access
Limited public access
State Heritage ID
ACC Reference No.
DPTI Heritage No.
Certificate of Title No.
CR 5999/489 D56872 A80
NTSA file exists
Heritage Status
State Heritage listed
State heritage listing
State Heritage listed
Date of State heritage listing
Local heritage listing
Date of Local heritage listing
NTSA listing
Date of NTSA listing
Section 23 (4) crtiteria
Risk status
Historic Themes
3.1 Economic Cycles
3.1.8 New Technology and City Development
5.2 State Government
5.2.2 Law and Police
Australian Curriculum references
Year 6: Australia as a Nation


  • Chronicle, 10 March 1917; Department of Housing and Construction Plan Room, Plans and specifications; State Heritage Branch, File 6628-11043, 30
  • July 1984.

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