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29 May 1893 'New Australia' in Paraguay

 29 May 1893   'New Australia' in Paraguay

A number of South Australians bound for the 'New Australia' in Paraguay left Adelaide by rail for Sydney on 29 May 1893. 

William Lane of Queensland recruited people from the colonies to join him in his experimental venture in Utopian Socialism in South America. Paraguay was described as a land of running waters, with unparalleled fertility, and a stable and progressive government. Among the group from South Australia was George Birks who sold the family chemist shop in Rundle Street. Other people also sold their homes and possessions and contributed to a communal fund. In Sydney they joined with other followers and sailed for South America on the Royal Tar to establish an ideal communist settlement.

The ideal was not to be. Differences arose during the voyage and these continued when the emigrants reached their destination. There they encountered many hardships, and further problems resulted in the settlers splitting into separate groups. In the meantime the Royal Tar returned to Australia to pick up more passengers, including twelve who joined the ship at Port Adelaide in December 1893. A further nine people left during the year.

Letters sent to South Australia over the next three years spoke of Lane's autocracy and the divisions which resulted. Disillusionment set in, the ideal slowly died and some people returned to Australia. Some remained and their descendants are still in Paraguay.

J.H. Mellowship, New Australia: A South Australian Chapter, BA Honours Thesis, University of Adelaide, 1960.
The Register, 3 January 1893, p. 7, 3 January 1895, p. 7, 29 August, 1896 p. 6.

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