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Introduction

t000632dThe story of the Swan River Colony and the lives of the first Europeans to take up land in southern Western Australia have been well documented and their struggles have been told and retold. These accounts have contributed to the 'pioneer myth' and reinforce the view that life in colonial Australia was harsh and the land unforgiving. In these histories the native vegetation was generally seen as a barrier to farming activities, the heat was oppressive and life on the land was demanding and unsuitable for women and children. Although largely abandoned in recent historical scholarship, this approach still pervades popular historical thinking and writing. The recurring theme in these pioneer histories is one of triumph over hardships in an alienating landscape and it denies men and women the possibility of developing a sense of belonging and calling their place in Western Australia 'home'.

sketch of Millendon homesteadBy careful reading of the letters, journals and diaries of selected colonists who came to the Swan River Colony in the nineteenth century another approach emerges: one that finds that despite the hardships and challenges, many of these early Europeans responded positively to their environments in Western Australia, developed a sense of attachment and belonging for places there and called it 'home'. In this 3 part presentation colonists who settled in different regions of southern Western Australia, and at different times during the nineteenth century, will be discussed.

Rydal Camp Millendon 1897The focus will be their responses to the landscapes they encountered and the extent to which they longed for their place of origin, or felt that they belonged to the 'new' places where they lived. This first part looks at several colonists who took up land in the Upper Swan in the 1830s and includes a more detailed discussion of George Fletcher Moore. Colonists to the Avon Valley are discussed in the second part and the final chapter takes us to the Eastern Goldfields in the 1890s.

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Page last updated: Thursday 23 February 2012 by Illona Tobin Asset ID 36141
Editors for this page nick 2nd account
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