'It may be said that South Australia was conceived in theory [long] before its actual birth took place in 1836 when it was proclaimed. A unique experiment in colonisation, based on what was to become identified as the Wakefield Theory'. Councillor Trevor Roocke, Chairman 1985. In the foreword to 'Quite Remarkable' by Bronwyn Griffiths.
The original attempt to establish local government in this new colony began in 1840 with the passing of an 'act'. Though the resulting Adelaide Corporation became defunct by 1843 it was reformed in 1852. The District Council act of 1852 provided for the creation of roads, if the locals petitioned for their formation. These newly-formed bodies became responsible for their upkeep.
The agricultural expansion to the north, during the 1870's was rapid, though the settlers were reluctant to form councils, while the Central Government in Adelaide kept building roads and railways.
In 1887, the Government empowered itself to form councils without waiting for the initiative to come from the residents. The many resulting 'Councils' reflected the close knit community bond of those early pioneers, a strength which still prevails.
Town-specific history. Links.
Melrose - Website of the Melrose Branch of the South Australian National Trust.