Townies, ex-urbanites and aesthetics; Issues of identity on Sydney's rural-urban fringe



Publication Details

Willis, I. C. 2012, 'Townies, ex-urbanites and aesthetics; Issues of identity on Sydney's rural-urban fringe', AQ-Australian Quarterly, vol. 83, no. 2, pp. 20-25.

Additional Publication Information

First published as Urban Transformations: Boom, Busts and other Catastrophes. Proceedings of the 11th Australasian Urban History/Planning History Conference, Andrea Gaynor, Elizabeth Gralton, Jenny Gregory & Sarah McQuade (eds), The University of Western Australia, Crawley, 2012.


The rural-urban fringe is a dynamic frontier, an ever expanding zone of transition on the edges of Australia’s major cities and regional centres. This paper examines the proposition that Sydney’s urban growth has pushed the city’s rural-urban fringe into the countryside and unleashed the contested nature of place-making in and around the country town of Camden. It will be maintained that the dynamic forces that characterise the rural-urban frontier have resulted a collision between the desires and aspirations of ‘locals’ and ‘outsiders’ and prompted a crisis in the identity of place. Community icons and rituals have become metaphors for the continuity of values and traditions that are embedded in the landscapes of place. The actors have used history and heritage, assisted by geography and aesthetics, to produce a narrative that aims to preserve landscape identity, and has created a cultural myth based on a romantic notion of an idealised country town drawn from the past, ‘a country town idyll’.

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Australian Quarterly

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