Monday 8 October 2012

Edward Gibbon Wakefield...

Back several generations ago, my great, great, great, great uncle, Edward Gibbon Wakefield had much influence over the design and settlement of the state of South Australia and the city of Adelaide. His name, among those with which many of us local South Aussies are familiar; Torrens, Angas, Gouger and so on adorn our city's streets and roads. As a kid I remember being told about him and the quiet significance of his role in the early days of the colonisation of the state. He never actually came to South Australia or Adelaide, but rather dreamed (or perhaps schemed?) from afar. I think he met a rather grizzly end in New Zealand actually, at the hand of some not so happy Maori's with his 'revolutionary ideas' there, and and then there was also the case of kidnapping a young heiress and whisking her away to be married at Gretna Green....

Nevertheless it is funny how our lives are intertwined in the fabric of the places where we live and by which we identify ourselves, sometimes proudly and sometimes rather sheepishly. Adelaide as we know always receives the short straw when compared to other cities, we seem to be the butt of everyone's jokes. I think Adelaide is a city that you have to live in to truly appreciate, it is rather quiet on the outside, but things really are bubbling away quite nicely when you delve deeper, and of course know where to look. 

Adelaide doesn't claim to be something it's not, but it is perhaps in danger of not knowing exactly what it is and how it should project itself to the outside world. I guess my musings on this have lead me to the Finding Place project, to see what people hold dear and what visitors really think and engage with when they are here. It is also something of a work in progress as I think about my own relationship with this city. Our connections with place are tenuous and ever changing. I have spent the majority of my adult life here, but it isn't quite 'home'. Having grown up on Kangaroo Island it is inherently familiar, but was and still feels like a stepping stone to somewhere else, I have no idea where just yet and things may change, but for the time being it is the place where I am and the answer I provide when people ask where I am from (there's nearly always some mention of KI in there too, just to clarify)! 

Some pages from the above book talking about Wakefield's identification of the place of South Australia.

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