The name Kangarilla, in an area known as Eyre Flat, was first mentioned in a survey conducted in 1839. Although most people agree that the name is derived from an Aboriginal word there is no agreement on the actual meaning of it. As early as 1840 land was taken up by speculators and settlers. Among the last group was George Frederick Dashwood who had his sections allotted in England in 1840 before he left for South Australia.
John Bottrill took up land in 1841 and added to his holdings in 1847 and 1849. John B. Thorngage also bought land in 1841 as did Thomas Golder in 1850 and Samuel Oakley in 1851. By 1844 many acres had been cleared and sown with wheat. Bottrill had 27 acres, Dashwood 20, Captain F.T. O'Halloran 91 acres and Samuel Oakley 26 acres. Twenty years later it was reported that 'The district is an agricultural one, and there are numerous vineyards in the neighbourhood producing fine crops of grapes'.
A town was established in 1849 by John Bottrill and surveyed properly in the early 1860s. It was named Scaldwell but soon became Kangarilla. Many other name changes took place during these early years. The name of the Eyre Flat Post Office, opened in 1850 and operated by Charles Thorpe, changed to Kangarilla in 1862. A school which had been opened in 1859 as Eyre Flat closed in 1863. When reopened in 1870 it was also named Kangarilla. If all this was not confusing enough the town was split in two as well, one half under the control of the District Council of Kondoparinga and the other half controlled by the District Council of Clarendon.
Regardless of these changes the name Eyre's Flat did not fade away in a hurry. By looking at the birth, marriage and death notices in the Register newspaper between 1860 and 1870 out of 26 notices 15 used Kangarilla and 11 Eyre's Flat. When John Paynter of Adelaide married Elizabeth Franklin in 1860, she was listed as living at Eyre's Flat, as was Samuel John Dailey when he married Mary Ann Battery of Cherry Gardens in 1861. On 31 August 1865 Mary Ann Elburn of Scott's Bottom, near Eyre's Flat died of bronchitis, aged 18 weeks. On 21 August 1866 the wife of Thomas Draper of Eyre's Flat had a daughter. Last, but not least Alpheus Biddle and Madonia Haines, both of Eyre's Flat were married in the Bible Christian Chapel at Eyre's Flat on 8 June 1867.
Churches too were subject to name changes. The Wesleyan Chapel was built in 1855. Its first service was held on 16 December 1856, but within a year the building collapsed. When rebuild it became the Methodist Church. Due to population change and religious thinking it was once again rebuild, this time it became the Uniting Church. The foundation stone was laid in 1883. St Stephen's Anglican Church was opened on 31 May 1904.
There was also the Bible Christian Church. The foundation stone for it was laid by Ann Bottrill in 1861. The land for the Chapel was donated by her husband John Bottrill. The Chapel opened for service on 16 February 1862. Both Ann and her husband are buried in the cemetery next to the Temperance Hall, not far from the site of the original chapel which has since been demolished. The Observer newspaper reported in 1926
Several of the early pioneers stayed at Kangarilla all their lives, as did their children. Some families have been associated with the town for more than 100 years. Among them Baker were the Bottrill, Collins, Dowling, Golder, Oakley, Osmond, Paddick, Smart and Steer families.
As a result of the different religions and changes in Council boundaries the early pioneers of Kangarilla have been buried in several different cemeteries.