Distinctive Features of the Rural Settlements in Australia in the 19th-20th Centuries
First European settlers appeared in Australia in the end of the 18th century. They weren’t farmers, but they were forced to become them to feed themselves. They faced uncommon environment and weird creatures, they were short of goods, seeds, instruments, they lived in poverty. However, they brought to the new continent a typical English idealistic image of happy village life. They tried and managed to adapt, to investigate their new home and to create powerful agriculture-based economics. In the middle of the 19th century export of sheep wool placed Australia in the row of prosperous countries, and until the end of the 19th century there was hardly any terra incognita on the continent. What could be used for farming, were already used. The 20th century was a time when industry production switched the economic balance. People migrated in cities, agriculture explored new technologies, which allowed a few people produce a huge amount of product. These processed are observed until today.
The 20th century is also a time when farmers spoke about their needs loudly. Crisis of the 1930s and the World War II affected Australian economics, as well as the famous “rabbit plaque”. Farmers again had to fight to survive. The Country Party became a mouthpiece of their interests.Presently, the agricultural sector in Australia contributes 3% to GDP and employees only 307,000 people, but in the 19th century agriculture was the basement of the country’s economics and the main employer. Enormous sheep-runs of squatters, rabbit plaque, and intensive international trade – these things associate with Australia in the minds of people all over the world. So the rural Australia is worth to talk about. This paper describes distinctive features of the rural settlements in Australia, specifically their economics, self-government, questions of land-holding, and finally, the political power they had and have in Australia. The great attention is paid to the first half of the 19th century – the exciting time of exploration that contains origin of modern Australia.
LAND-HOLDING: FORMS AND HISTORY
Five Stages of Squatting
Originally, Australia was intended to be a prison, and the authorities intended to keep convicts on strictly regulated territory. The British Empire planned to control land market, establish rules and prices of land purchasing, granting people with prescribed amounts of acres in the prescribed areas. However, the climate and vast unused territories drew attention of free settlers, colonists and emancipists. It is quite naively to expect former convicts or people trying to escape from European reality and imperfection to respect the law. The first half of the 19th century is a time of fight between the settlers who seized lands, and the government which tried to stop them. The government failed. Squatting –occupying lands without permission, is one of the best known phenomenons of Australian history.
From the early 1820s to the early 1830s the squatters seized lands that the government planned to give to yeomanry. These lands (mainly coastal regions) were known as “the Limits …