Saturday, May 06, 2006

New England's Boundaries

In my last post I referred to the two definitions of New England, the name applied to the Northern Tablelands as compared to the boader area seeking self-government. The boundaries of the second have varied with time.

Moves to create a new state in Northern New South Wales date back to the separation of Queensland from New South Wales. Squatters in the then sparsely populated far north of New South Wales wanted to and indeed expected to be included in Queensland.

When the Sydney merchants persuaded the Government in London to shift the boundary north leaving them in New South Wales, the squatters argued instead for the creation of their own self-governing colony. This initial move died, but then surfaced again in the Clarence Valley driven in part by disputes over the way revenues from land sales were all being spent in Sydney.

The Scottish born clergyman John Dumore Lang played an active role in supporting these agitations. Lang had supported the agitation leading to the previous separation of first Victoria and then Queensland. Now he supported the northen NSW moves in part because it fitted with his vision of the future Federated States of Australia made up of a number of self-governing states each responsible for meeting direct local needs.

These agitations died away, but defined the colonial new state core of New England as the combination of the Northern Tablelands with the nearby Northern Rivers (the valleys of the Tweed, Richmond and Clarence Rivers), the mid North Coast as far south as the Manning River, the Western Slopes and Liverpool Plains. In essence, the Tablelands and immediately surrounding areas minus the Hunter Valley to the South.

This was not the end of the story.

As we shall see later, there were powerful economic and social links between the Hunter Valley, Tablelands and Western Slopes, links that made the Hunter a logical part of New England. These links were recognised by New Englanders and encapsulated in the boundaries of the New England New State as recommended by the Nicholas Royal Commission. Those boundaries form the broader New England as I use the term.

No comments: