Dry Creek (South Australia)

Dry Creek or Dry Creek Drain (34°47′40″S 138°34′39″E) is a seasonal stream in South Australia[1] which passes through the Adelaide suburbs of Modbury, Walkley Heights and Pooraka. The nearby suburb of Dry Creek and Dry Creek railway station are named after the stream.


In season Dry Creek flows from its source near Yatala Vale in the Mount Lofty Ranges to the Barker Inlet of the Gulf St Vincent via a manufactured drain near Globe Derby Park. The flooded state of the plain either side of Dry Creek after heavy rain is presumed to be the source of the local place name 'Yatala' (as in Hundred of Yatala and Yatala Vale). The name is likely derived from the indigenous word 'yertalla', which means "water running by the side of a river".[2] Dry Creek is mostly dry in summer and flows through a deep gully at the rear of the prison with outcrops of exposed pre-Cambrian rocks that were extensively quarried as part of prison activity.[3]

Yatala Labour Prison was established in the 1854 next to Dry Creek and was alternately known at the time as the Dry Creek Prison or the Stockade. The rock from the quarry was transported to Adelaide via the Stockade railway station (opened in 1857; closed 1961), with the area around the station and quarry being since redeveloped as the Stockade Botanical Park.

A 14km long walkway, known as Dry Creek River Trail, runs along the creek in the Dry Creek Reserve.[4]


  1. Whitworth (1866) p. 69
  2. Rob Amery (March 2009). "Weeding Out Spurious Etymologies: Toponyms On The Adelaide Plains". In Luise Hercus; Flavia Hodges; Jane Simpson (eds.). The Land is a Map: Placenames of Indigenous Origin in Australia (PDF). ANU Press. p. 165-180. ISBN 9781921536571. Yatala most likely derives from yertalla 'water running by the side of a river; inundation; cascade'. As Manning (1986:238) observes 'in winter when water flowed from the hills, over the plains, the Dry Creek area became a morass'.
  3. Lewis (1985) pp. 174–175
  4. "Dry Creek River Trails | Dry Creek Linear Park | Walking SA". Walking SA. Retrieved 20 September 2017.


  • Whitworth, Robert Percy, ed. (1866). Bailliere's South Australian gazetteer and road guide: containing the most recent and accurate information as to every place in the Colony. F.F. Bailliere.
  • Lewis, H. John (1985). Enfield and The Northern Villages. The corporation of the city of Enfield. ISBN 0-85864-090-2.

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