Monarto is a region and proposed city in South Australia. It is north of the South Eastern Freeway between the Callington and Murray Bridge exits 83 km from Adelaide.
The land was acquired by the Dunstan state government in the 1970s to create a new city in an effort to limit the continued sprawl of Adelaide. Trees were planted and plans made between 1973 and 1976 with the project receiving $AU10.5 million in Commonwealth funding under the ‘new cities programme’ of the Whitlam Federal Government. However, the plan was eventually cancelled in 1980. This would have been similar to the 1950s Playford government’s successful establishment of Elizabeth to the north of Adelaide, although the urban sprawl has since extended to encompass Elizabeth. Monarto would be on the eastern side of the Mount Lofty Ranges, creating a natural barrier to keep the two cities separate.
The plan never came to fruition and Monato became an outer suburb of Murray Bridge. A large portion of the land has now been taken up by the Monarto Zoo, established in 1983. An industrial estate has also been established at Monarto as part of the growth of the city of Murray Bridge
Monarto is also adjacent to the main Adelaide to Melbourne railway line, and was formerly a junction for a branch line running north on the plain between the Murray River and the Mount Lofty Ranges.