Industrialization was a turning point in SA’s history as it industrialised a small and vulnerable primary producing state of yeoman farmers and graziers. Adelaide was primarily a commercial centre, servicing the rural industries. Industrialisation helped to lay the economic groundwork for the social and cultural transformation rightly associated with Don Dunstan in the late 1960s and the 1970s.
BHP is now long gone from the Upper Spencer Gulf region and the Whyalla steelworks are currently owned by Liberty Steel, part of GFG Alliance. The steelworks have struggled to make a profit and they need to be substantially modernized.
The present can be viewed through the lens of the industrial past as there is an industrial transformation currently underway in the Upper Spencer Gulf region. There is the Sundrop Farms at Port Augusta based on the technologies of concentrated solar power, thermal desalination, and steam-driven electricity generation. Secondly, the delayed Cultana solar farm to supply the steel works with low-cost renewable energy appears to be finally on the way. Thirdly, a hydrogen facility or hub, which would allow SA to produce and store hydrogen energy, is being proposed for Whyalla.
The homestead ruins –history’s refuse–in the agricultural landscape embody the 19th century’s dreams and hopes of the yeoman farmers and SA as an agricultural paradise and furnish the material for a historical knowledge of past human history for us in the late 20th century. It is in the small, concrete things that the truth of the whole can be ascertained. The rusty Whyalla pipeline, which represented technological and engineering progress, embodies the 20th century’s hopes and dreams for a better life than the agricultural one. The images of ruined buildings, rusty pipes, and unused old railway lines contain historical knowledge in they make past wishes and hopes ‘recognisable’.