Covering the Society’s 180-year history, the RA&HS Archives and Museum demonstrate just how important agriculture, horticulture, and viticulture are to the fabric of South Australia. The Society is the organiser of the State’s largest event, the Royal Adelaide Show, and the archival material includes everything from showbags and souvenirs, to the history of woodcutting, sheaf tossing, livestock, wine, cookery and craft.
Submit a research query or make an appointment to visit the Showgrounds for an opportunity to research the collection or have a tour of the archives and museum. Groups are welcome and all visits are by appointment only.
A brief picture of a long history
An Agricultural Society was first formed in South Australia in 1839 and was based on the principals of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. Another Society with broader horizons encompassing greater interest in horticulture was formed in 1842 and over time the two amalgamated. The Society was formed “for the advancement of agricultural and pastoral knowledge, and to promote the development of the natural resources of our noble colony.”
On 8 December 1840, the first Produce Show was staged in the yards of Fordham’s Hotel, Grenfell Street, Adelaide. The exhibits included vegetables, cereals, and cheese, wool and leather goods.
In 1843 the first Livestock Show was held on 20 October at Payne’s Hotel yards in Hindley Street, and the first Ploughing Match was held on Dr Mayo’s block at Thebarton.
Having held Shows at various locations in the city for many years, the Wayville site was purchased in 1911, with a lease signed in 1913 for a period of ninety- nine years. The Society finally moved to Wayville in 1925 and currently holds a lease until 2062.