Road trip: Sedan + Cambrai

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I tracked the old railway to Cambrai where I came across a raised railway siding with this silo, which indicated that the railway was to serve the free hold wheat growers, not the pastoralists. South Australia in the late nineteenth century was an agricultural society.

silo, Cambrai

I really didn’t know much about the history of this part of South Australia when I was making these road trips. I just thought railway and silo in a cleared landscape. I didn’t think about what was there before the land was cleared for agriculture by the white settlers. You could say that I didn’t ‘see’ the country.

Sure, I knew about Wakefield, systematic colonisation and the attempt to transplant English society in South Australia as an English province. I had a vague sense that South Australia saw itself as superior to the rest of Australia in that it was a respectable English province and not a colony. In this picture there was nothing about taking the land from the Aboriginal people or the long history of frontier conflict and warfare.

The mainstream history books that dealt with the pastoral ascendancy held that Australia had large tracts of empty grazing land awaiting occupation. The continent was empty, the process of colonisation and peaceful pioneer settlement was uncomplicated, the inferior aboriginal people were peaceful and offered no resistance to the white frontier setters, and the passing of the aboriginal people was celebrated as the proof of progress. This is colonial history, edited history with blindfolds about invasion, the frontier and black history’s oppression and racial violence.

The colonial legacy includes the cult of forgetfulness and silence about the racial violence on the frontier.I knew nothing about Aboriginal civilisation, was ignorant about this civilisation’s culture and economy and was blinded by ignorance of this state’s black history. This is the continuing legacy of colonialism.

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  1. […] roadtrip to Sedan and Cambrai would have involved crossing the Mt Lofty Ranges near Angaston or Palmer. I remember stopping and […]

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