Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, Vol 23, No 1 (2010)

A 'City on a Hill’: Religion and Buildings on the Frontier Mission at Wellington Valley, New South Wales

David Andrew Roberts
Issued Date: 13 Jun 2010


The Anglican Church Missionary Society’s Wellington Valley mission (1832–43) was one of the most ambitious and important religious experiments attempted in early nineteenth-century Australia. Located on the very western fringe of the British colony of New South Wales, amid the remains of an abandoned convict settlement, the mission provided the setting for competing assertions of status, authority and morality, played out in complex interactions between evangelists, Aborigines and British settlers/servants. This article explores those interactions through a particular focus on the built environment of the mission station. To contribute to our understanding of how the grand ideologies of evangelical Christianity played out and faltered on a local level, I argue that the material facilities occupied by the mission reflected and exaggerated many of the shortcomings and conundrums of the missionary agenda, and that infrastructural and spatial difficulties contributed markedly to its failure.

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DOI: 10.1558/arsr.v23i1.91


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