South-eastern Australia, outside the Sydney coastal plain, was settled through squatting in a remarkably rapid development driven by individual initiative in the face of government efforts at control.
Squatting: Romance and Reality covers the political dilemma faced by government in regulating a movement that undermined the primary purpose of the colony as a penal settlement and led to conflict with the native people. Told largely in the words of those involved, it outlines the difficulties colonial governors had in convincing London that circumstances were changing and required governance.
James Ferguson describes what the squatting life was like, how stations were founded and developed, where the squatters came from, and what kinds of people they were. Their rugged individualism did much to form the Australian character, and theirs is a story of courage and determination, but also of tragedy as economic progress led to the degradation of the land and destruction of the Aboriginal way of life.