People in Adelaide have been doing things for a long time, and sometimes they were the first people to do these things. Here are a variety of semi-humorous descriptions of some of those times, delivered to you the reader in highly-readable list form.
Top 5 South Australian firsts
In 1965, there was a man with a vision: four glittering bags, pegged majestically to each point of a Hills Hoist, rotating gently in the brisk winter air. And maggotted teens underneath coughing vomit onto their Diesel jeans. Although the original vision for cask wine may not have been quite that specific, its invention in Renmark still represents one of the proudest moments in our state’s rich history – and the source of most of the disgraceful memories in our brains.
We’re not exactly sure what a ‘talking fire alarm’ is, but we are very proud to have been the site of its creation. (Considering the technology of 1938, we’re imagining a firefighter who lives in your cupboard and constantly sniffs the air for the tell-tale scent of smoke.) Unfortunately this wonderful piece of tech would soon be rendered obsolete by an innovative new substance that promised to smother all fire or kill its owners trying – asbestos. In the end, then, the talking fire alarm people had the last laugh.
When considering South Australian firsts, there is typically a lot of focus on us being the first free colony (see, for example, below). But something of which we can arguably be prouder is the fact that we were the first people not to have to wallow in our own filth like common swine. With the construction of Australia’s first water-borne sewerage network in 1881, the people of Adelaide rocketed forward into the stench-free wonderland of the future. And while those on the Eastside continued to smear themselves in their own faeces on a daily basis (probably), sophisticated Adelaideans were delivering their refuse to the godless ocean with a simple, hygienic push of a button.
Although today it is self-evident that women are human beings with brains and thoughts, back in the 1800s this notion was the second-most controversial belief that a person could voice. (The first was that King William had a tiny, tiny head.) Womenfolk were viewed by menfolk as mysterious pod-creatures, undeserving of rights and scarcely a notch above small circus dogs riding bicycles in terms of their importance to society. Despite these attitudes, South Australia was, to list but a few: The first state in which females could vote and stand for parliament (1895); the first state to decriminalise abortion (1970); the site of the first state secondary school for women (1879) and the first University (of Adelaide) to allow women to pursue degrees (1880); and the first state to have a Sex Discrimination Act (1975). Despite all of these noble firsts, however, the struggle for equality continues even today. Sexism returned in full force in 1977, for example, with the erection of an enormous pair of stainless steel testicles in pride of place in Rundle Mall. Soldier on.
Any time some pea-brained east coaster slings abuse Adelaide’s way, we can always take comfort in the fact that their forebears were horrible criminal disgraces. South Australia, we remind ourselves, was settled by free men and women. And then we chug an iced caffeinated beverage and go back to our lives, confident that – whatever the insult – we will always remain superior to the criminal scum across the border. But we handily ignore the rest of the story. When drafting the free settlement, the colony’s architects assumed that those living here – being free men and women – would be wholesome, law-abiding folks. Accordingly, the state would surely require neither prisons nor police. People would toil honestly, settle disputes like gentlefolk, and pause to help old ladies across dirt roads. After the ribbon cutting, the crime began almost immediately. Australia’s first police force was hastily formed, and a two-room hut was erected to serve as a jail. The lesson? Far from being the first free colony in Ausralia, South Australia was just the first colony in which the criminals roamed free.