Publication Details

Maddison, B. G. 2007, ''A kind of joy-bell': common land, wage work and the eight hours movement in nineteenth century NSW', in J. Kimber & P. Love (eds), The Time of Their Lives: the Eight Hour Day and Working Life, 1 edn, Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Melbourne. pp. 181


In 1890 over one million acres in New South Wales, and more than one and a half million acres in Victoria, existed as officially designated common land. In New South Wales the commons were mainly located in country areas, spread around 296 localities; this meant that virtually every country town had its common, ranging somewhere in size between Brushgrove's eighteen and Cobar's 67,550 acres, with many commons being 500-5,000 acres. Common land in New South Wales and Victoria was only one instance of the widespread colonial practice of reserving specific pieces of land from private alienation. Thus in ninetheenth century New South Wales the commons denominated as either Temporary or Permanent - were augmented by a variety of reserves, the most important of which were set aside for travelling stock, pasturage, timber, water, indigenous communities, camping, recreation, 'public purposes' (schools, churches, cemeteries), village, town and suburban expansion. While the combined acreage of these non-commodified spaces is extremely difficult to calculate, their number and sometimes vast extent meant that the landscape of colonial south-eastern Australia was a patchwork of commodified private property and non-commodified space.

Link to publisher version (URL)

Australian Society for the Study of Labour History