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Paraguay Aussies - Peru

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Uploaded on Sep 5, 2007

Sep 2006
Paraguay, one of South America's poorest countries, is the surprising home to an Australian diaspora that began 113 years ago.


We meet descendants of what The Bulletin magazine of the time called "a harebrained scheme" to build a new Australia in the middle of the jungle, a society in which all Australians were supposed to be equal.


About 2,000 Paraguayans can trace their ancestry to a group of 500 bushmen, shearers and unionists who left Australia in the 1890s, led by radical socialist William Lane, after a violent clash between Australia's colonial government, and striking shearers.

Among those to undertake the journey was Mary Gilmore, who would later become one of Australia's best known poets. She eventually returned to Australia and excerpts from an interview she did in 1959 are included in the story.

"It was purely communistic. I wouldn't say it was a success, but I certainly wouldn't say it was a failure." Dame Mary said.

But the dream did fail. Within months the settlers had fallen out, with many refusing to obey Lane's rules of no alcohol, and no mixing with the locals. Many eventually returned to Australia, and those who stayed ended up abandoning communal living, and simply divided the land among themselves.

We find that some of their descendants -- with names like Wood, McLeod, Burke and Murray -- are still on the same farms today.

Produced by ABC Australia
Distributed by Journeyman Pictures

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