The nature of what constitutes a ‘good life’, or at least a better life than that on offer, is varied and contentious. This paper focuses on two historical examples of the search for a good life in Queensland in which the mechanisms involved were the creation of locally innovative forms of settlement.
The first of the two examples is the cluster of cooperative settlements set up in parts of Queensland, including the more populous South East, during the turbulent years of the 1890s. An influential source of the cooperative ideal was the radical journalist William Lane, who in 1893 took a group of like-minded people to start the utopian New Australia settlement in Paraguay; but the cooperatives were also a reaction to the appalling conditions of the 1890s economic depression and the government’s desire to populate and develop the Colony. The second example is the canal estates, initiated in Australia on the Gold Coast in 1957, driven by a desire for a good life by the sea, a craving to emulate (and to sell) the perceived golden lifestyle of Florida in the USA as well as by consumerist capitalism.
The two examples identify some of the potential elements of a ‘good life’ sought by the community or sold by the market, but more importantly they point to different conceptions of the role of the state in achieving the ‘good life’.