Monday, July 16, 2012

With Lane in Paraguay: Harry Taylor of the Murray Pioneer 1873-1932

With Lane in Paraguay: Harry Taylor of the Murray Pioneer 1873-1932 by Don Gobbett and Malcolm Saunders.  Paperback book published by Central Queensland University Press 1995, 141 pages with a few black and white photographs.

Now here’s a book that is about Paraguay that does have an Australian connection.  In the late 1800s a group of Australians decided that they didn’t want to live here (Australia) anymore, so they moved to Paraguay.  That’s the simplified version of what happened.  In fact it was a little more political than a whimsical choice to move to a foreign land and involved the early Labour Party and a desire for utopian settlements… there was other stuff as well.  I guess Australia wasn’t big enough and Paraguay was, so too Paraguay they went naming their new found Utopia “New Australia”.  Of course these things often end up in tears.  There was a split in the community and some of the people started a new commune nearby.  There are still descendents of the original settlers living in Paraguay and I reckon if you found them, there would possibly be a jar of mouldy Vegemite in the cupboard somewhere.

The title of this book refers to William Lane who was the head honcho of New Australia and the New Australians(?).  He was also the guy who split off from the original group and then much later ended up in New Zealand.  Reading between the lines, I think that some of the problems were due to peoples dissatisfaction in Lane’s leadership capabilities… and possibly some of the rules were a little extreme.  Harry Taylor, who was the author of this book, was a South Australian guy and was one of the first group of people to go with Lane to Paraguay… he was also a journalist and this book is his first hand account of these events.

When I found this title, I had a fair (although a little vague) idea on what it was all about.  Which is a very different story to me finding the The Lives of Eliza Lynch of which I had absolutely no idea about at all.  The idea of a first hand account of this strange and peculiar history of a Paraguayan and Australian connection is a great title to have for sale.  I believe there are other books about New Australia and William Lane but unfortunately I have never found any which is one of the reasons I find this title interesting.  Maybe books on this subject are a lot more common than I’m aware of, regardless I rate this book as a book of interest.

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