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The Search For Identity 1788 1900 [Convict Legacy, The Bush Legend, Larrikins, The Bulletin, H. Lawson, A. B. Paterson]

2510 words - 10 pages

By the late nineteenth century, nationalism in Australia was on the rise. The idea of the nation emerged with the means for its realization. By the 1880s native- born Australians had begun to outnumber the immigrants, and the momentum for a full- born Australian nationalism increased. Three-quarters of the population had been born in Australia and the camaraderie and defiance of the diggers on the goldfields became a huge source of national pride, just as it did with their namesakes in World War I. Their egalitarianism, mateship, and disdain for authority were to become central to the national character.Convictism in Australia describes the convicts who were transported to the various Australian colonies in the late eighteenth and nineteenth century. One of the primary reasons for the British settlement of Australia was the establishment of a penal colony to remove pressure from their overburdened correctional facilities. The last convicts to be transported to Australia arrived in Western Australia in 1868.Australia's history as a penal colony is imprinted vividly on the minds of most Australians even today. The lasting effects of the long dead practice are still felt in some areas of life. Many Australians can accurately trace their lineage back to colonial times, and most cases being related to one of the original convicts invokes a sense of national pride. It should be remembered that these convicts were, for the most part, not violent criminals, but rather petty thieves and the like. This attitude is, however, a relatively new phenomenon in Australia. Until after the Second World War most Australians felt a sense of shame about their convict status, and many did not even attempt to investigate their families' origins for fear that they could be descended from criminals. This is known as the Convict Stain attitude. British and Irish convicts and ex-convicts became an important class in Australian society, because they were the most significant source of labour until the mid-19th century. Not all Australian settlements were official penal colonies and many were established by free settlers, looking for opportunities.Along with the Anzac legend, the bush legend is one of the great legends of Australia's past. The 1890s saw a continued increase in nationalism and with it the creation of the Australian bush legend - an extension of the goldfield legend. It is a mythical construct about Australia and Australians which suggested that the bush life made Australians different. There is a traditional approach which argues that the legend came from the particular difficulties and circumstances posed by life in Australia. On the other hand, there is a revisionist interpretation which holds that the bush legend resulted from disillusionment with change and disruption in Australia in the 1880s and 1890s. Poets, writers and artists sought to create a distinctive national identity. The legend they adopted suggested that Australia is a country economically...

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