Town plans and their impact on the settlement process of Australia,1788-1849
thesisposted on 29.03.2022, 03:47 authored by Helen Proudfoot
This thesis is a study of the town plans that evolved from the time Australia was settled by Europeans in 1788 up to the 1840s, when the plan making had become codified and predictable and able to be applied to the drawing up and marking out of villages, towns and cities in the other eastern states. It is the first study to demonstrate the role of the town plans themselves as determinants of social cohesion in a newly settled continent. Previously, these plans as signifiers have largely been ignored, and nowhere have the plans as a body of work been considered in the Australian context. -- There has been a curious emphasis in Australian historiography in the past on the 'bush mystique'. The question of the marking out of land has tended to be seen as a political issue between contending ideologies in the context of rural land. The role of the towns has not been regarded as crucial to the shaping of the colony in spatial terms. In this thesis I have tried to demonstrate that within the larger county units the town plans became a most important factor in the great enterprise of migration, giving form to the settlement process itself. The towns and the roads that linked them together provided the backbone of the colony in physical and topographical terms. -- The thesis is a study of the plans and their provenance: how they were made, who was responsible for them, what happened to them. The plans are treated as the most direct evidence of both intentions and results. It is also a study of the design principles which were devised to accommodate changing ideas about more abstracted intentions. The balance of public compared with private land as important modifiers of the stability implicit in urban form, is traced from the beginning, from Phillip's plans through the years to 1810, and then on to its embodiment in the plans of the thirties. The useful role of urban open space in the morphology of Australian towns is discussed. -- A brief look at the roots of some common fallacies about town plans and town planners and surveyors is introduced to try to account for the widely held perceptions about the 'failure' of early town planning. Drawn into the study, is the consideration of the way rural areas were distributed around the towns, and how provision was made for town expansion. In chapter 7 in particular there is particular attention paid to the spatial distribution of towns, where they were founded and the reasons for this. -- After the Introduction, the first four chapters serve as a prelude to the Town Planning Regulations introduced by Governor Darling in 1829. The founding of Sydney is contrasted with the founding rites of other, ancient cities, and parallels noted. The settlement of Norfolk Island as Sydney's outrider, is studied; its development under Lieut King and its significance to Sydney in the early decades. The re-ordering of the town plan of Sydney by Governor Bligh, and the consequences perceived by the townsfolk, are seen to have added to the antagonism felt towards him by Macarthur and the Military, and contributed to the popular support of the Rebellion of 1808. -- The concept of 'public virtue', endorsed by John Wood of Bath and the Edinburgh political theorists, and expressed as buildings placed in a planned, ordered environment, is found in the work of Macquarie and Greenway. It was a potent factor in the process of transforming the colony from a prison to a free, settled society, and was used to provide a rhetoric which could disregard the tainted convict beginnings of the colony, and focus instead on the promised destiny of a young nation.