Fences, furrows, ditches and settlement policy: Rapid landscape change in the Swan River Colony

Shane Burke


This paper examines the behaviour of farming settlers in the Swan district of Western Australia during John Hutt’s 1839 to 1846 governorship. Hutt’s affiliations with Wakefield’s settlement theories and his adherence to the 1829–1831 land regulation decree led settlers to physically alter the Swan district’s cultural landscape by enclosing their land with ditches, furrows and fences. Settler actions demonstrate local knowledge of environmental features, a previously unrecorded awareness of land regulations and a shrewd understanding about what constitutes a barrier in a Western Australian colonial setting. This paper has been peer-reviewed.


John Hutt; Western Australian History; Swan district; Western Australian Archaeology; cultural landscape; land grant system; boundary markers


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