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Town plans and their impact on the settlement process of Australia,1788-1849

posted on 2022-03-29, 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.


Table of Contents

PART 1. TEXT -- Introduction: the conventions of map making; sources and problems -- 1. The stars and the town: Lieutenant William Dawes and Governor Phillip -- 2. Ancient origins of founding rites and their reflection in colonial Australia -- 3. Norfolk Island: insular model of colonial planning -- 4. 'Order and useful arrangement' -- 5. Public virtue expressed as town plans - 1810-1822 -- 6. The tradition of urban open space and the concept of the 'commonality' of land -- 7. A plethora of town plans -- 8. The founding of the other state capitals and the legacy of Darling's regulations -- 9. A perspective on the first sixty years of urban settlement -- Appendices -- PART 2. FIGURE.


Includes bibliographical references 1995

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD), Macquarie University, Graduate School of the Environment

Department, Centre or School

Graduate School of the Environment

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Richard Cardew


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Helen Proudfoot 1996. This thesis was digitised for the purposes of Document Delivery. Macquarie University ResearchOnline attempted to locate the author but where this has not been possible; we are making available, open access, the thesis which may be used for the purposes of private research and study. If you have any enquiries or issues regarding this work being made available please contact Macquarie University ResearchOnline - If you wish to access the complete thesis, on receipt of a Document Supply Request, placed with Macquarie University Library by another library, we will consider supplying a copy of this thesis. For more information on Document Supply, please contact






2 parts (xix, 260 p.) ill., plans (some col.)

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mq:25453 1862347

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