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Local History

Salvation Army ministry in the Australia was born in a uniquely Army form: in the open air and, in a typically Aussie style, under a gum tree in a park.

The organisation was originally founded in London, in July 1865, by William and Catherine Booth under the name of The Christian Mission. The name 'The Salvation Army' was adopted in 1878 and formally adopted by deed poll in 1880. That was also the year that The Salvation Army began in Australia, when a tradie and a railway worker began preaching and offering meals on the back of a cart in Adelaide's Botanic Garden. 

In a nation born of convicts, the Army’s larrikin nature endeared was a refreshing change to the “starchified” style of existing churches, as Australian founder John Gore described them. Noisy open-air meetings were held in parts of cities where residents were more used to seeing pub-brawls than brass-bands. Opposition from ‘skeleton armies’ who used to throw eggs and shout taunts at Salvationists were seen as a help, rather than a hindrance, as it meant that The Salvation Army’s movements became the ‘talk-of-the-town.

An Australian journalist described the rapid spread of The Salvation Army in its early days as ‘like a bushfire’. What started under a gum tree grew deep roots and now The Salvation Army now has 353 established corps (churches) across Australia that work hand-in-hand with our social services - we are one of the biggest provider of welfare and homelessness services in the country. In the midst of our growth and diversity, The Salvation Army in Australia has always been about people finding Freedom through Jesus. 

Use the dropdown menu or area list below to find stories about The Salvation Army's history in your local area.

Suburbs Shortcut

ACT & South New South Wales

The Salvation Army has a rich history in the ACT and southern New South Wales region. From the late 1800s when 'Salvation Riders' travelled through country towns, to its beginnings in the 1920s in the nation's capital.
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Central & North Queensland

The Army's beginnings in central and north Queensland date back to the late 1800s. The Salvation Army has been a vital presence in the region ever since, helping people find freedom.
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Newcastle & Central New South Wales

The Salvation Army's rich heritage in the Hunter and central parts of New South Wales has produced some of the organisation's greatest leaders.
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North New South Wales

The Salvation Army in north New South Wales has a vibrant history of intrepid pioneers, willing to do what it takes to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of local communities.
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South Queensland

The Salvation Army stormed into Brisbane a few short years after its inception in Adelaide in 1880, and has remained a vibrant presence in the city and surrounding areas ever since.
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Sydney East & Illawarra

The Salvation Army 'opened fire' in Sydney in 1882, just two years after its Australian foundation in Adelaide. It quickly spread through Sydney and its surrounds as the practical application of Christ's love took hold.
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The Greater West

Salvationists in western Sydney and beyond the Great Dividing Range have been pivotal in the formation of the Army in Australia, with many of the organisation's leaders originating from this region.
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We have tried to be as factual and accurate as possible. However, if you think we have made an error, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Please email

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The Salvation Army acknowledges the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures; and to elders both past and present. | 13 SALVOS (13 72 58)

Gifts of $2 or more to the social work of The Salvation Army in Australia are tax deductible. Details

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