Australian Identity Essay

The Australian identity has in fact a number of identities competing to be the true Australian national identity - Australian Identity Essay introduction. The two main parts of this competition is the bush legend and the beach and suburbs. However it should not be thought that either of these parts is a completely set idea and image of Australia. This essay will argue that the Australian identity to a great extent is now based on ideas and images that relate to the beach and suburbs rather than the bush. Although it is important to know that the bush legend has not been wiped out totally and still exists. Multiculturalism is just one of the main factors in modifying the Australian identity from a rural to a more urban based landscape and way of life. This essay will begin by discussing how multiculturalism has impacted on Australian identity. Secondly by communicating about the bush legend in Australian identity. Finally it will argue how the beach and suburbs are now a more prominent part of Australian identity, however displaying how the bush legend still remains as a small part of the way Australia is seen.

Multiculturalism has made a large modification to the ideas and images of Australia. There are two main stories of multiculturalism in Australia. One is that of an Anglo Australian nation and one of an immigrant nation. First Australia only federated as a white British nation in 1901. Moran assertively states Australia’s national identity has then shifted from a white based British Australia, to a diverse, multiethnic, and officially multicultural Australia since the 1970s. (p 2153-2172, 2011). The change of ethnicity through Australia has made drastic changes to the country. Firstly Elder (2007 P118) suggests between the 1900s and 1945 it was strongly felt that Australia could be a country of loyalty, instead of a prison. The idea had come to populate Australia with hard working people rather than convicts which was the case pre 1900s. After 1960 more immigrants were brought to Australia, countries like Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece, Turkey, other non-British source countries and a small amount of Asians. Eventually Australia’s population grew, more immigrants entered Australia. From the arrival of the Europeans and people from other countries Australia has adapted a lot of different cultures and way of life through activities such as cooking, building, creating and accomplishing tasks.

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The bush legend has been part of Australia for many years since the early settlement of 1788. “The identity of the typical Australian is a practical man rough and ready in his manners and quick to decry any appearance of affection in others.” (Ward, 1958, p 1-2). Here Ward touches on the males who were outback employees up until the 1900s. These characteristics were directed at the Bushmen from the country, people who worked in trades such as shepherds, shearers, station hands and other jobs in the rural industry. The bush was something that was uniquely Australian and very different to the European landscapes familiar to many new immigrants. In saying that the bush was and still is an icon to many Australians, although it does not make it the actual Australian identity now as it was before the 1900s. Ward also states that up to the 1900’s the status of the bushman seemed to have a higher regard than that of a townsman and was a memorable figure. (1958, p5). This makes a suggestion of what the ideas of Australia used to be on past experiences.

However as time has moved on there has been a transition to what the Australian identity has now become. L Huntsman strongly suggests how the bushman has been taken over by the bronzed lifesaver (2001 p 168). Australia could be defined by its bush past; though a beach and suburban identity is highly regarded. The true Australian identity is linked to opportunity and the hope of a better life and how Australian Identity is viewed by all people enjoying the benefits of living in this country. As O’Hanlon firmly states “In the post war years the detached home in the suburbs became the symbol of Australian achievement” (p181, 2005). Most of these home buyers were that of the new immigrant’s post 1945 rather than just the British Australians. This demonstrates that most people have a chance of a better life coming to Australia. The beach representing freedom as it is there for leisure. This is advertised in tourism and products, which convince people to want to go to the beach to do things such as swim, surf, play cricket, have picnics, get married and hold parties. Although the beach and suburban identity is much stronger than the bush identity now, “the bush still retains a special and powerful place in national iconography and mythology”. (Moran pages 2153-2172). The bush will always have to a small extent an identity in Australia as it is part of its historical legend.

Nevertheless the beach and suburbs are the more dominant image and idea upheld. A main reason why it is more upheld is perhaps more people live around the suburbs and beaches instead of the bush. In conclusion it is evident that the beach and the suburbs is the main Australian identity without saying the bush identity is gone because the past shapes up the present and always will be Australia’s history. This essay discussed the multicultural impact on the shift to the Australian identity today, giving it a more racially changed look and new ideas in what Australia’s image is. Secondly, looking back at history of the old Australian identity as how it was pre 1900s and its legend now. And lastly a look at the more modern Australian identity, but not firmly calling it the new identity, just the more prominent one. The Australian bush legend still remains a big part of Australian history, but not the Australian identity itself, with Australia now being based on images and ideas of the beach and suburbs rather than the bush to a large extent.

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