This article examines the social side of the property-holding relationship between rural families in rural Australia. I assume that property is a social relationship as well as form of technology. I argue that the technology of property is not neutral, but has social implications. My approach is to assume that settlers had various ideas of property, a core stratum of which was manipulated and governed by the state. At the same time the technical side of property, resting on the sciences of cartography, mapping and surveying, allowed the state to settle farmers on land in a controlled way to ensure productivity and social control. Thus, through stimulating ideas of freedom associated with property, the colonial state assisted the orderly development of the Australian continent.