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Published December 21st 2015
Where east meets west, and travellers rest
The 'Old Sydney Track' was the main stock route between the Eastern States and Adelaide. Travelling from the east, overlanders would often rest at the base of the northern Adelaide Hills before commencing the narrow winding ascent of a hill surrounded by stone walls and greenery some sixty miles shy of Adelaide. Today the Traveller's Rest shelter details the history of a remarkable town which had its European beginnings back around 150 years ago.
Shortages of farming land in the 1860's saw sections of land sold, and J W Pfeiffer purchased some at the junction of the Old Sydney Track and the two North-South stock routes, and subsequently subdivided it and formed a private town. Pfeiffer named the town Sedan, after a town in France that marked a significant battle in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, and settled himself and his family in a pug and pine cottage on the western side of town.
Pfeiffer then went on to sponsor many new settlers to the area and was instrumental in the early days of forming his own private town. Land was donated in early 1873 and the first Lutheran Church was built in the town. With population growth later in the century, this small church was to be replaced by a much larger building with a bell tower that could be seen and heard for many kilometres.
By 1884 the town had seen the addition of a Lutheran School, a Bank (Commercial Bank), a Blacksmith's shop, Saddler, Post Office, General Store, the Sedan Hotel and the Sedan Steam Flour Mill. This private town was beginning to prosper and soon moved in to Government hands with the formation of the District Council of Sedan.
At about this time Railways were gradually arriving in various parts of the State, and the community of Sedan lobbied hard for a railway. To assist with the lobbying, a luxurious two storey guest house was built in 1894 to convince the authorities of the credibility of the town's accommodation and bid for a railway. But alas, a combination of a recession, drought and the commencement of World War One saw a delay in the arrival of trains until late 1919.
Post war, Sedan experienced a mini revival with the introduction of more churches, town hall, a public school, car dealerships and garages, bakery, pool salon and betting shop, tea rooms, telephone exchange, police station, butcher, barber, stock agent and a lime kiln. A recreation park used by the local football, netball and tennis players became a popular feature on weekends before water became an issue.
Water had always been an ironic problem in the town. Pfeiffer's setting out of the town failed to take in to account several factors, namely that the town was located in a natural depression which would lead to periodical flooding of the town centre after heavy downpours, the most recent being in November 2015. Pfeiffer also failed to take in to account that there was no other natural water supply, and townsfolk had to travel to Towitta Springs at the base of Sedan Hill when the bore water tank in the centre of town ran dry, which it often did.
The water problem was solved in 1967 with the introduction of the water pipeline from the Murray River but new problems arose with the closure of the railway line and the subsequent closures of the flour mill, lime kiln and a number of the businesses in the town. The industrial and technological revolution had finally caught up with Sedan.
A little slower though was the State Government who held out until 1986 before they widened and sealed the 'Old Sydney Track' up Sedan Hill and through to the Barossa. The iconic stone walls which lined the narrow track were moved relocated stone by stone to allowing for the road widening.
Today, Sedan is a small quiet town at the crossroads of six roads, with the town obelisk taking pride of place in the centre of the roads. Bridges and freeways have attracted the east-west traffic, leaving Sedan generally populated only by locals, and the occasional traveller who prefers the solitude of quiet country roads. Counter meals are available from the Sedan Hotel, while the local General Store has a good range of groceries to service locals and travellers looking for a rest.
Sedan is situated 110km north east of Adelaide halfway between the Barossa Valley and Swan Reach. The Sedan Heritage Trail is a walk of around 3km commencing at Pfeiffer's original house, and takes visitors on a signposted and informative tour through the streets of Sedan.