Light was initially considered for the position of Governor of South Australia - this was, however, given to Hindmarsh. Instead, in 1835, Light was appointed Surveyor-General of the new colony.
He sailed for South Australia with his mistress Maria Gandy (his second wife having left him for another man) and some of his staff on the Rapid.
There Light selected the location and laid out the street plan of the city of Adelaide.
The Adelaide city centre was planned by Light in a grid fashion.
One of the reasons he chose the location was because clouds drifting over the nearby Adelaide Hills would provide rainfall.
This was a promising indicator of good conditions for agriculture and another was that the location was adjacent to the River Torrens; the available supply of fresh water was a problem throughout the new colony, and had resulted in the rejection of, or relocation of, settlement sites on Kangaroo Island, Port Lincoln and Holdfast Bay (now known as Glenelg).
When Colonel Light was designing Adelaide, his plans included surrounding the city with 1,700 acres (690 ha) of parklands.
This would provide clean fresh air throughout Adelaide.
European cities often had polluted stale air and Light wanted to avoid this occurring in Adelaide. Ironically, white settlers denuded the Adelaide Plains of trees in the first decade of their settlement.
Light's design for Adelaide is noted as one of the last great planned metropolises; the city's grid layout, with alternating wide and narrow streets, interspaced with five public squares, has made it an ideal modern city, able to cope with traffic, and the Adelaide Parklands that surround it provide a "city in a park" feel.