Culture of Australia
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The culture of Australia is essentially a Western culture influenced by the unique geography of the Australian continent, the diverse input of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the British colonisation of Australia that began in 1788, and the various waves of multi-ethnic migration that followed. The predominance of the English language, the existence of a democratic system of government drawing upon the British traditions of Westminster Government, Parliamentarianism and constitutional monarchy, as well as American constitutionalist and federalist traditions, Christianity as the dominant religion and the popularity of sports such as cricket and rugby evidence a significant Anglo-Celtic heritage. Australian culture has diverged significantly since British settlement in 1788.
Aboriginal people are believed to have arrived as early as 60,000 years ago, and evidence of Aboriginal art in Australia dates back at least 30,000 years. Several states and territories had their origins as penal colonies, with the first British convicts arriving at Sydney Cove in 1788. Stories of outlaws like the bushranger Ned Kelly have endured in Australian music, cinema and literature. The Australian gold rushes from the 1850s brought wealth as well as new social tensions to Australia, including the miners' Eureka Stockade rebellion. The colonies established elected parliaments and rights for workers and women before most other Western nations. Federation in 1901 evidenced a growing sense of national identity that had developed over the latter half of the 19th century, as seen in the works of the Heidelberg School painters and writers like Banjo Paterson, Henry Lawson and Dorothea Mackellar. The World Wars profoundly altered Australia's sense of identity, with World War I introducing the ANZAC legend, and World War II seeing a reorientation from Britain to the United States as the nation's foremost major ally. After the second war, 6.5 million migrants from 200 nations brought immense new diversity, and Australians grew increasingly aware of their proximity to Asia. Over time, the diverse food, lifestyle and cultural practices of immigrants have been absorbed into mainstream Australian culture.
Egalitarianism, informality and an irreverent sense of humour have been common themes of cultural commentary, exemplified by the works of C. J. Dennis, Barry Humphries and Paul Hogan. Fascination with the outback has persisted in the arts in Australia and agriculture has been an important economic sector, despite the nation becoming increasingly urbanised during the 20th century. Two-thirds of the population reside in the state capital cities along the coast.
The major cities host such internationally renowned cultural institutions as the Sydney Opera House and National Gallery of Victoria, and Australia has contributed many artists to music and film internationally, from hard rock's AC/DC to opera's Joan Sutherland, to Hollywood actors Geoffrey Rush and Nicole Kidman. Australians also participate in a wide variety of sports, including Australian rules football and a vibrant surf culture.
- 1 From Indigenous Australia to modern Australia
- 2 National symbols
- 3 Royal symbols
- 4 Language
- 5 Humour
- 6 Arts in Australia
- 7 Religion
- 8 Public holidays
- 9 Cuisine
- 10 Clothing and apparel
- 11 Sport
- 12 Attitudes, beliefs and stereotypes
- 13 References
- 14 Further reading
From Indigenous Australia to modern Australia
The oldest surviving cultural traditions in Australia – and some of the oldest surviving cultural traditions on earth – are those of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Their ancestors have inhabited Australia for between 40,000 and 60,000 years, living a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. In 2006, the Indigenous population was estimated at 517,000 people, or 2.5 per cent of the total population. Most Aboriginal Australians have a belief system based on the Dreaming, or Dreamtime, which refers both to a time when ancestral spirits created land and culture, and to the knowledge and practices that define individual and community responsibilities and identity. Conflict and reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians has been a source of much art and literature in Australia, and ancient Aboriginal artistic styles and iconic inventions such as the boomerang, the didgeridoo and Indigenous Australian music have become symbols of modern Australia.
The arrival of the first British settlers at what is now Sydney in 1788 introduced Western civilisation to the Australian continent. Although Sydney was initially used by the British as a place of banishment for prisoners, the arrival of the British laid the foundations for Australia's democratic institutions and rule of law, and introduced the long traditions of English literature, Western art and music, and Judeo-Christian ethics and religious outlook to a new continent.
The British Empire expanded across the whole continent and established six colonies. The colonies were originally penal colonies, with the exception of South Australia, which was established as a "free colony" with no convicts and a vision for a territory with political and religious freedoms, together with opportunities for wealth through business and pastoral investments.
Contact between the indigenous Australians and the new settlers ranged from cordiality to violent conflict, but the diseases brought by Europeans were devastating to Aboriginal populations and culture. According to the historian Geoffrey Blainey, during the colonial period: "Smallpox, measles, influenza and other new diseases swept from one Aboriginal camp to another ... The main conqueror of Aborigines was to be disease and its ally, demoralisation."
William Wentworth established Australia's first political party in 1835 to demand democratic government for New South Wales. From the 1850s, the colonies set about writing constitutions which produced democratically advanced parliaments as Constitutional Monarchies with Queen Victoria as the head of state.
Women's suffrage in Australia was achieved from the 1890s. Women became eligible to vote in South Australia in 1895. This was the first legislation in the world permitting women to stand for political office and, in 1897, Catherine Helen Spence became the first female political candidate. Though constantly evolving, the key foundations for elected parliamentary government have maintained an historical continuity in Australia from the 1850s into the 21st century.
During the colonial era, distinctive forms of Australian art, music, language and literature developed through movements like the Heidelberg school of painters and the work of bush balladeers like Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson, whose poetry and prose did much to promote an egalitarian Australian outlook which placed a high value on the concept of mateship. Games like cricket and rugby were imported from Britain at this time and with a local variant of football, Australian Rules Football, became treasured cultural traditions.
The Commonwealth of Australia was founded in 1901, after a series of referenda conducted in the British colonies of Australasia. The Australian Constitution established a federal democracy and enshrined human rights such as sections 41 (right to vote), 80 (right to trial by jury) and 116 (freedom of religion) as foundational principles of Australian law and included economic rights such as restricting the government to acquiring property only "on just terms". The Australian Labor Party was established in the 1890s and the Liberal Party of Australia in 1944, both rising to be the dominant political parties and rivals of Australian politics, though various other parties have been and remain influential. Voting is compulsory in Australia and government is essentially formed by a group commanding a majority of seats in the Australian House of Representatives selecting a leader who becomes Prime Minister. Australia remains a constitutional monarchy in which the largely ceremonial and procedural duties of the monarch are performed by a Governor General selected by the Australian government.
Australia fought at Britain's side from the outset of World War One and World War Two and came under attack from the Empire of Japan during the latter conflict. These wars profoundly affected Australia's sense of nationhood and a proud military legend developed around the spirit of Australia's ANZAC troops, who came to symbolise the virtues of mateship, courage and endurance for the nation.
The Australian colonies had a period of extensive multi-ethnic immigration during the Australian gold rushes of the latter half of the 19th century, but following Federation in 1901, the Parliament instigated the White Australia Policy that gave preference to British migrants and ensured that Australia remained a predominantly Anglo-Celtic society until well into the 20th Century. The post-World War II immigration program saw the policy dismantled by successive governments, permitting large numbers of Southern European, and later Asian and Middle Eastern migrants to arrive. The Menzies Government (1949-1966) and Holt Government dismantled the legal barriers to multi-ethnic immigration and by the 1970s, the Whitlam and Fraser Governments were promoting multiculturalism.
Some States and Territories of Australia retained discriminatory laws relating to voting rights for Aborigines into the 1960s, at which point full legal equality was established. A 1967 referendum to include all Aborigines in the national electoral roll census was overwhelmingly approved by voters. In 1984, a group of Pintupi people who were living a traditional hunter-gatherer desert-dwelling life were tracked down in the Gibson Desert and brought into a settlement. They are believed to have been the last uncontacted tribe.
While the British cultural influence remained strong into the 21st century, other influences became increasingly important. The Hawaiian sport of surfing was adopted in Australia where a beach culture and the locally developed surf lifesaving movement was already burgeoning in the early 20th century. American pop culture and cinema were embraced in the 20th century, with country music and later rock and roll sweeping Australia, aided by the new technology of television and a host of American content. The 1956 Melbourne Olympics announced a confident, prosperous post-war nation, and new cultural icons like Australian country music star Slim Dusty and dadaist Barry Humphries expressed a uniquely Australian identity.
Australia's contemporary immigration program has two components: a program for skilled and family migrants and a humanitarian program for refugees and asylum seekers. By 2010, the post-war immigration program had received more than 6.5 million migrants from every continent. The population tripled in the six decades to around 21 million in 2010, including people originating from 200 countries. More than 43 per cent of Australians were either born overseas or have one parent who was born overseas. The population is highly urbanised, with more than 75% of Australians living in urban centres, largely along the coast.
Contemporary Australia is a pluralistic society, rooted in liberal democratic traditions and espousing informality and egalitarianism as key societal values. While strongly influenced by Anglo-Celtic origins, the culture of Australia has also been shaped by multi-ethnic migration which has influenced all aspects of Australian life, including business, the arts, cuisine, sense of humour and sporting tastes.
When the Australian colonies federated on 1 January 1901, an official competition for a design for an Australian flag was held. The design that was adopted contains the Union Flag in the left corner, symbolising Australia's historical links to the United Kingdom, the stars of the Southern Cross on the right half of the flag indicating Australia's geographical location, and the seven-pointed Federation Star in the bottom left representing the six states and the territories of Australia. Other official flags include the Australian Aboriginal Flag, the Torres Strait Islander Flag and the flags of the individual states and territories.
The Australian Coat of Arms was granted by King George V in 1912 and consists of a shield containing the badges of the six states, within an ermine border. The crest above the shield and helmet is a seven-pointed gold star on a blue and gold wreath, representing the 6 states and the territories. The shield is supported by a red kangaroo and an emu.
Green and gold were confirmed as Australia's national colours in 1984, though the colours had been adopted by many national sporting teams long before this. At the same time a revised version of the 19th-century song "Advance Australia Fair" became Australia's official national anthem. Both these were formalised by proclamation by the Governor-General, on the advice of the Prime Minister, Bob Hawke.
The Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha) was officially proclaimed as the national floral emblem in 1988.
Reflecting the country's status as a constitutional monarchy, a number of royal symbols exist in Australia. These include symbols of the monarch of Australia, as well as the monarch's Vice-regal representatives.
Despite the fact that the Queen of Australia is not resident in Australia, the Crown and royal institutions remains a visible part of Australian life. The birthday of the monarch is celebrated as a public holiday across all states and territories. The Australian currency, including all coins and the five dollar note, bear an image of the reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Around 12% of public lands in Australia are referred to as Crown land, including reserves set aside for environmental conservation as well as vacant land. There are many geographic places that have been named in honour of a reigning monarch, including the states of Queensland and Victoria, named after Queen Victoria, with numerous rivers, streets, squares, parks and buildings carrying the names of past or present members of the Royal Family. Through royal patronage there are many organisations in Australia that have been granted a Royal prefix. These organisations, including branches of the Australian Defence Force, often incorporate royal symbols into their imagery.
Although Australia has no official language, it is largely monolingual with English being the de facto national language. Australian English is a major variety of the language which is immediately distinguishable from British, American, and other national dialects by virtue of its unique accents, pronunciations, idioms and vocabulary, although its spelling more closely reflects British versions rather than American. According to the 2001 census, English is the only language spoken in the home for around 80% of the population. The next most common languages spoken at home are Chinese (2.1%), Italian (1.9%), and Greek (1.4%). A considerable proportion of first- and second-generation migrants are bilingual. Australia has a sign language known as Auslan, which is the main language of about 6,500 deaf people.
It is believed that there were between 200 and 300 Australian Aboriginal languages at the time of first European contact, but only about 70 of these languages have survived and all but 20 are now endangered. An indigenous language is the main language for about 50,000 people (0.25% of the population).
Comedy is an important part of the Australian identity. The "Australian sense of humour" is often characterised as dry, irreverent and ironic, exemplified by the works of performing artists like Barry Humphries and Paul Hogan.
The convicts of the early colonial period helped establish anti-authoritarianism as a hallmark of Australian comedy. Influential in the establishment of stoic, dry wit as a characteristic of Australian humour were the bush balladeers of the 19th century, including Henry Lawson, author of "The Loaded Dog". His contemporary, Banjo Paterson, contributed a number of classic comic poems including The Man from Ironbark and The Geebung Polo Club. CJ Dennis wrote humour in the Australian vernacular - notably in The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke. The Dad and Dave series about a farming family was an enduring hit of the early 20th century. The World War I ANZAC troops were said to often display irreverence in their relations with superior officers and dark humour in the face of battle.
Australian comedy has a strong tradition of self-mockery, from the outlandish Barry McKenzie expat-in-Europe ocker comedies of the 1970s, to the quirky outback characters of the Crocodile Dundee films of the 1980s, the suburban parody of Working Dog Productions' 1997 film The Castle and the dysfunctional suburban mother–daughter sitcom Kath & Kim. In the 1970s, satirical talk-show host Norman Gunston (played by Garry McDonald), with his malapropisms, sweep-over hair and poorly shaven face, rose to great popularity by pioneering the satirical "ambush" interview technique (later employed by Britain's Sacha Baron Cohen as Ali G) and giving unique interpretations of pop songs. Roy and HG provide an affectionate but irreverent parody of Australia's obsession with sport. The Dream with Roy and HG has been a regular feature of Olympic television coverage since the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
The unique character and humour of Australian culture was defined in cartoons by immigrants, Emile Mercier and George Molnar, and in the novel They're a Weird Mob (1957) by John O'Grady, which looks at Sydney through the eyes of an Italian immigrant. Post-war immigration has seen migrant humour flourish through the works of Vietnamese refugee Anh Do, Egyptian-Australian stand-up comic Akmal Saleh and Greek-Australian actor Nick Giannopoulos.
Since the 1950s, the satirical character creations of Barry Humphries have included housewife "gigastar" Edna Everage and "Australian cultural attaché" Les Patterson, whose interests include boozing, chasing women and flatulence. For his delivery of dadaist and absurdist humour to millions, biographer Anne Pender described Humphries in 2010 as "the most significant comedian to emerge since Charlie Chaplin".
The vaudeville talents of Graham Kennedy, Don Lane and Bert Newton earned popular success during the early years of Australian television. The variety show Hey Hey It's Saturday screened for three decades. Among the best loved Australian sitcoms was Mother and Son, about a divorcee who had moved back into the suburban home of his mother - but sketch comedy has been the stalwart of Australian television. The Comedy Company, in the 1980s, featured the comic talents of Mary-Anne Fahey, Ian McFadyen, Mark Mitchell, Glenn Robbins, Kym Gyngell and others. Growing out of Melbourne University and The D-Generation came The Late Show (1991–1993), starring the influential talents Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, Jane Kennedy, Tony Martin, Mick Molloy and Rob Sitch (who later formed Working Dog Productions); and during the 1980s and 1990s Fast Forward (Steve Vizard, Magda Szubanski, Marg Downey, Michael Veitch, Peter Moon and others) and its successor Full Frontal, which launched the career of Eric Bana and featured Shaun Micallef.
The perceptive wit of Clive James and Andrew Denton has been popular in the talk-show interview style. Representatives of the "bawdy" strain of Australian comedy include Rodney Rude, Austen Tayshus and Chad Morgan. Quintessential Australian country music hits included the novelty songs "A Pub with No Beer" (1957) by Slim Dusty and "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" (1960s) by Rolf Harris which help define a comic tradition of Australian music.
Cynical satire has had enduring popularity, with television series such as Frontline, targeting the inner workings of "news and current affairs" TV journalism, The Hollowmen (2008), set in the office of the Prime Minister's political advisory (spin) department, and The Chaser's War on Everything, which cynically examines domestic and international politics. Actor/writer Chris Lilley has produced a series of award winning "mockumentary" style television series about Australian characters since 2005.
Arts in Australia
The arts in Australia—film, music, painting, theatre, dance and crafts—have achieved international recognition. While much of Australia's cultural output has traditionally tended to fit with general trends and styles in Western arts, the arts as practiced by indigenous Australians represent a unique Australian cultural tradition, and Australia's landscape and history have contributed to some unique variations in the styles inherited by Australia's various migrant communities.
Australian writers who have obtained international renown include the Nobel winning author Patrick White, as well as authors Peter Carey, Thomas Keneally, Colleen McCullough, Nevil Shute and Morris West. Notable contemporary expatriate authors include the feminist Germaine Greer, art historian Robert Hughes and humorists Barry Humphries and Clive James.
Among the important authors of classic Australian works are the poets Henry Lawson, Banjo Paterson, C. J. Dennis and Dorothea Mackellar. Dennis wrote in the Australian vernacular with such works as The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke, while Mackellar wrote the iconic patriotic poem "My Country" which rejected prevailing fondness for England's "green and shaded lanes" and declared: "I love a sunburnt country". At one point, Lawson and Paterson contributed a series of verses to The Bulletin magazine in which they engaged in a literary debate about the nature of life in Australia. Lawson said Paterson was a romantic and Paterson said Lawson was full of doom and gloom. Lawson is widely regarded as one of Australia's greatest writers of short stories, while Paterson's poems "Clancy of the Overflow" and "The Man From Snowy River" remain amongst the most popular Australian bush poems. Significant political poets of the 20th century included Dame Mary Gilmore and Judith Wright. Among the best known contemporary poets are Les Murray and Bruce Dawe.
Novelists of classic Australian works include Rolf Boldrewood (Robbery Under Arms), Mary Durack (Kings in Grass Castles and Keep Him My Country) and Jeannie Gunn (We of the Never Never). Marcus Clarke's For the Term of His Natural Life (1874) is the best-known Australian convict novel, and a seminal work in the Tasmanian Gothic genre. The legacy of Miles Franklin, renowned for her 1901 novel My Brilliant Career, is the Miles Franklin Award, which is "presented each year to a novel which is of the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in any of its phases". Tim Winton has won the award a record four times, including for Cloudstreet (1992). Ruth Park, author of The Harp in the South, contributed a number of iconic fictional works about urban living.
In terms of children's literature, Norman Lindsay (The Magic Pudding) and May Gibbs (Snugglepot and Cuddlepie) are among the Australian classics. The world's biggest prize in children's literature has been received by Australian Shaun Tan, who won the 2011 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.
The extraordinary circumstances of the convict foundations of Australian theatre are recounted in Thomas Keneally's novel The Playmaker. Eminent writers of Australian plays have included Steele Rudd (On Our Selection), David Williamson, Alan Seymour and Nick Enright.
Although historically only a small proportion of Australia's population have lived outside the major cities, many of Australia's most distinctive stories and legends originate in the outback, in the drovers and squatters and people of the barren, dusty plains.
David Unaipon is known as the first indigenous author. Oodgeroo Noonuccal was the first Aboriginal Australian to publish a book of verse. A significant contemporary account of the experiences of Indigenous Australia can be found in Sally Morgan's My Place. Contemporary academics and activists including Marcia Langton and Noel Pearson are prominent essayists and authors on Aboriginal issues.
Charles Bean (The Story of Anzac: From the Outbreak of War to the End of the First Phase of the Gallipoli Campaign 4 May 1915, 1921) Geoffrey Blainey (The Tyranny of Distance, 1966), Robert Hughes (The Fatal Shore, 1987), Manning Clark (A History of Australia, 1962–87), and Marcia Langton (First Australians, 2008) are authors of important Australian histories.
The ceremonial dances of Indigenous Australians recount stories of the Dreamtime and have been performed for thousands of years. European traditions came to Australia with the First Fleet in 1788, with the first production being performed in 1789 by convicts. In 1988, the year of Australia's bicentenary, the circumstances of the foundations of Australian theatre were recounted in Timberlake Wertenbaker's play Our Country's Good.
Hobart's Theatre Royal opened in 1837 and remains the oldest theatre in Australia. The Australian gold rushes beginning in the 1850s provided funds for the construction of grand theatres in the Victorian style. A theatre was built on the site of Melbourne's Princess Theatre in 1854.
The Melbourne Athenaeum was built during this period and has played host to stars including Mark Twain, Nellie Melba, Laurence Olivier and Barry Humphries. The Queen's Theatre in Adelaide opened with Shakespeare in 1841 and is today the oldest purpose-built theatre on the mainland.
After Federation in 1901, theatre productions evidenced the new sense of national identity. On Our Selection (1912), based on the stories of Steele Rudd, portrays a pioneer farming family and became immensely popular. Sydney's grand Capitol Theatre opened in 1928 and after restoration remains one of the nation's finest auditoriums.
In 1955, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll by Ray Lawler portrayed resolutely Australian characters and went on to international acclaim. That same year, young Melbourne artist Barry Humphries performed as Edna Everage for the first time at Melbourne University's Union Theatre. His satirical stage creations, notably Dame Edna and Les Patterson, became Australian cultural icons. Humphries also achieved success in the USA with tours on Broadway and has been honoured in Australia and Britain.
Construction of the Adelaide Festival Centre began in 1970 and South Australia's Sir Robert Helpmann became director of the Adelaide Festival of Arts. The new wave[clarification needed] of Australian theatre debuted in the 1970s. The Belvoir St Theatre presented works by Nick Enright and David Williamson. The Sydney Opera House, inaugurated in 1973, is the home of Opera Australia and the Sydney Theatre Company.
The Bell Shakespeare Company was created in 1990. A period of success for Australian musical theatre came in the 1990s with the debut of musical biographies of Australian music singers Peter Allen (The Boy From Oz in 1998) and Johnny O'Keefe (Shout! The Legend of The Wild One).
In The One Day of the Year, Alan Seymour studied the paradoxical nature of the ANZAC Day commemoration by Australians of the defeat of the Battle of Gallipoli. Ngapartji Ngapartji, by Scott Rankin and Trevor Jamieson, recounts the story of the effects on the Pitjantjatjara people of nuclear testing in the Western Desert during the Cold War. It is an example of the contemporary fusion of traditions of drama in Australia with Pitjantjatjara actors being supported by a multicultural cast of Greek, Afghan, Japanese and New Zealand heritage.
Australia has three architectural listings on UNESCO's World Heritage list: Australian Convict Sites (comprising a collection of separate sites around Australia, including Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney, Port Arthur in Tasmania, and Fremantle Prison in Western Australia); the Sydney Opera House; and the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne. Contemporary Australian architecture includes a number of other iconic structures, including the Harbour Bridge in Sydney and Parliament House, Canberra. Significant architects who have worked in Australia include Governor Lachlan Macquarie's colonial architect, Francis Greenway; the ecclesiastical architect William Wardell; the designer of Canberra's layout, Walter Burley Griffin; the modernist Harry Seidler; and Jørn Utzon, designer of the Sydney Opera House. The National Trust of Australia is a non-governmental organisation charged with protecting Australia's built heritage.
Evidence of permanent structures built by Indigenous Australians before European settlement of Australia in 1788 is limited. Much of what they built was temporary, and was used for housing and other needs. As a British colony, the first European buildings were derivative of the European fashions of the time. Tents and wattle and daub huts preceded more substantial structures. Georgian architecture is seen in early government buildings of Sydney and Tasmania and the homes of the wealthy. While the major Australian cities enjoyed the boom of the Victorian era, the Australian gold rushes of the mid-19th century brought major construction works and exuberant Victorian architecture to the major cities, particularly Melbourne, and regional cities such as Ballarat and Bendigo. Other significant architectural movements in Australian architecture include the Federation style at the turn of the 20th century, and the modern styles of the late 20th century which also saw many older buildings demolished. The Queenslander is a term which denotes the primarily residential style of warm climate architecture developed in Queensland and northern parts of New South Wales.
Religious architecture is also prominent throughout Australia, with large Anglican and Catholic cathedrals in every major city and Christian churches in most towns. Notable examples include St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne and St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney. Other houses of worship are also common, reflecting the cultural diversity existing in Australia; the oldest Islamic structure in the Southern Hemisphere is the Central Adelaide Mosque (built in the 1880s), and one of the Southern Hemisphere's largest Buddhist Temples is Wollongong's Nan Tien Temple. Sydney's Gothic-style Great Synagogue was consecrated in 1878.
Historically, Australian pubs have also been noted for often distinctive designs.
Significant concern was raised during the 1960s, with developers threatening the destruction of historical buildings, especially in Sydney. Heritage concerns led to union-initiated green bans, which saved significant examples of Australia's architectural past. Green bans helped to protect historic 18th-century buildings in The Rocks from being demolished to make way for office towers, and prevented the Royal Botanic Gardens from being turned into a car park for the Sydney Opera House.
Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney
Convict architecture at Port Arthur, Tasmania
Interior of St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney
The Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne
Parliament House, Canberra
A typical Queenslander house in Brisbane
The visual arts in Australia date as far back as 60,000 years. Ancient Aboriginal rock art can be found throughout the continent, notably in UNESCO-listed national parks, from Kakadu in the Northern Territory, to Sydney's Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. 19th century Indigenous spokesman William Barak painted ceremonial scenes, such as corroborees. Led by Albert Namatjira, the Hermannsburg School received national fame in the 1950s for their watercolours of Central Australia. Since the 1970s, contemporary Indigenous Australian artists have used acrylic paints in styles such as that of the Western Desert Art Movement, which leading critic Robert Hughes saw as "the last great art movement of the 20th century". Art is important both culturally and economically to Indigenous society; central Australian Indigenous communities have "the highest per capita concentrations of artists anywhere in the world". Contemporary artists whose work has been exhibited internationally include Rover Thomas and Emily Kngwarreye. Issues of race and identity are raised in the works of many 'urban' Indigenous artists, including Gordon Bennett and photographer Tracey Moffatt.
John Glover and Eugene von Guerard were among the foremost landscape painters during the colonial era. The origins of a distinctly Australian school of painting is often associated with the Heidelberg School of the late 1800s. Major figures of the movement include Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton and Frederick McCubbin. Like the French Impressionists they painted en plein air, and sought to capture the intense light and unique colours of the Australian bush. Popular works such as McCubbin's Down on His Luck (1889) and Roberts' Shearing the Rams (1890) defined an emerging sense of national identity in the lead-up to Federation. Civic monuments to national heroes were erected; an early example is Charles Summers' 1865 statue of the ill-fated explorers Burke and Wills, located in Melbourne.
Among the first Australian artists to gain a reputation overseas was the impressionist John Peter Russell in the 1880s. He and Charles Conder of the Heidelberg School were the only Australian painters known to have close links with the European avant-garde at the time. Other notable expatriates include Rupert Bunny, a salon painter of sensual portraits, and sculptor Bertram Mackennal, known for his commissioned works in Australia and abroad.
The Heidelberg pastoral tradition lived on in Hans Heysen's imagery of heroic eucalypts. Roy de Maistre and Grace Cossington Smith were pioneers of modernism in Australia. In the mid-1920s, Margaret Preston became a lifelong advocate for a modern national art based on Aboriginal designs. The conservative art establishment largely opposed modern art, as did the Lindsays and Australian Tonalists. Controversy over modern art in Australia reached a climax in 1943 with court action against William Dobell after his painting of Joshua Smith won the Archibald Prize for portraiture. Despite such opposition, new artistic trends grew in popularity. Photographer Max Dupain created bold modernist compositions of Sydney beach culture. Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd, Joy Hester and Albert Tucker were members of the Angry Penguins, a group of expressionists who revived Australian landscape painting through the use of myth, folklore and personal symbolism. Elements of surrealism were used to evoke the strange disquiet of the outback, exemplified in Nolan's iconic Ned Kelly series and Russell Drysdale's 1948 masterpiece The Cricketers. The post-war landscapes of Fred Williams, Ian Fairweather and John Olsen border on abstraction, while the Antipodeans group and Brett Whiteley further explored the possibilities of figurative painting.
Pro Hart's output of Australiana and Ken Done's Sydney Harbour views have been widely reproduced on souvenirs and other ready made furnishings. Michael Leunig developed a popular style of poetic cartoons. Public artworks have sprung up in unlikely places, from the annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibitions at Bondi and Cottesloe Beach, to the rural folk art of "Australia's big things". Since the 1970s, disused buildings throughout Australia have been converted into contemporary art galleries and artist-run initiatives. Australian street art flourished at the turn of the 21st century, particularly in Melbourne.
Major arts institutions in Australia include the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, the National Gallery of Australia, National Museum of Australia and National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, and the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney. The Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart is the Southern Hemisphere's largest private museum.
Australia's first dedicated film studio, the Limelight Department, was created by The Salvation Army in Melbourne in 1898, and is believed to be the world's first. The world's first feature-length film was the 1906 Australian production The Story of the Kelly Gang. Tales of bushranging, gold mining, convict life and the colonial frontier dominated the silent film era of Australian cinema. Filmmakers such as Raymond Longford and W. J. Lincoln based many of their productions on Australian novels, plays, and even paintings. An enduring classic is Longford and Lottie Lyell's 1919 film The Sentimental Bloke, adapted from the 1915 poems by C. J. Dennis. After such early successes, Australian cinema suffered from the rise of Hollywood.
In 1933, In the Wake of the Bounty was directed by Charles Chauvel, who cast Errol Flynn as the leading actor. Flynn went on to a celebrated career in Hollywood. Chauvel directed a number of successful Australian films, the last being 1955's Jedda, which was notable for being the first Australian film to be shot in colour, and the first to feature Aboriginal actors in lead roles and to be entered at the Cannes Film Festival. It was not until 2006 and Rolf de Heer's Ten Canoes that a major feature length drama was shot in an indigenous language.
Ken G. Hall's 1942 documentary feature Kokoda Front Line! was the first Australian film to win an Academy Award. In 1976, Peter Finch posthumously became the first Australian actor to win an Oscar for his role in Network.
During the late 1960s and 1970s an influx of government funding saw the development of a new generation of film makers telling distinctively Australian stories, including directors Peter Weir, George Miller and Bruce Beresford. Films such as Picnic at Hanging Rock and Sunday Too Far Away had an immediate international impact. The 1980s is often regarded[by whom?] as a golden age of Australian cinema, with many successful films, including the historical epic Gallipoli, the romantic drama The Man From Snowy River, the comedy Crocodile Dundee, and the post-apocalyptic Mad Max series.
A major theme of Australian cinema has been survival in the harsh Australian landscape. A number of thrillers and horror films dubbed "outback gothic" have been created, including Wake in Fright, Walkabout and The Cars That Ate Paris in the 1970s, Razorback and Shame in the 1980s, and Japanese Story, The Proposition and the world-renowned Wolf Creek in the 21st century. These films depict the Australian bush and its creatures as deadly, and its people as outcasts and psychopaths. Saw (2004) and Wolf Creek (2005) are credited with the revival of Australian horror.
The 1990s saw a run of successful comedies including Muriel's Wedding and Strictly Ballroom, which helped launch the careers of Toni Collette and Baz Luhrmann respectively. Australian humour features prominently in Australian film, with a strong tradition of self-mockery, from the Ozploitation style of the Barry McKenzie expat-in-Europe movies of the 1970s, to the Working Dog Productions' 1997 homage to suburbia The Castle, starring Eric Bana in his debut film role. Comedies like the barn yard animation Babe (1995), directed by Chris Noonan; Rob Sitch's The Dish (2000); and Stephan Elliott's The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) all feature in the top ten box-office list. During the 1990s, a new crop of Australian stars were successful in Hollywood, including Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett and Heath Ledger, who all rose to international prominence and critical acclaim.
The domestic film industry is also supported by US producers who produce in Australia following the decision by Fox head Rupert Murdoch to utilise new studios in Melbourne and Sydney where filming could be completed well below US costs. Notable productions include The Matrix, Star Wars episodes II and III, and Australia starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.
Aboriginal song was an integral part of Aboriginal culture. The most famous feature of their music is the didgeridoo. This wooden instrument, used amongst the Aboriginal tribes of northern Australia, makes a distinctive droning sound and its use has been adopted by a wide variety of non-Aboriginal performers.
Aboriginal musicians have turned their hand to Western popular musical forms, often to considerable commercial success. Pioneers included Lionel Rose, and Jimmy Little, while notable contemporary examples include Archie Roach, the Warumpi Band, NoKTuRNL and Yothu Yindi. Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu (formerly of Yothu Yindi) has attained international success singing contemporary music in English and in the language of the Yolngu. Christine Anu is a successful Torres Strait Islander singer.
Amongst young Australian aborigines, African-American and Aboriginal hip hop music and clothing is popular. Aboriginal boxing champion and former rugby league player Anthony Mundine identified US rapper Tupac Shakur as a personal inspiration, after Mundine's release of his 2007 single, Platinum Ryder.
The Deadly Awards are an annual celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander achievement in music, sport, entertainment and community.
Folk music and national songs
The early Anglo-Celtic immigrants of the 18th and 19th centuries introduced folk ballad traditions which were adapted to Australian themes: "Bound for Botany Bay" tells of the voyage of British convicts to Sydney, "The Wild Colonial Boy" evokes the spirit of the bushrangers, and "Click Go the Shears" speaks of the life of Australian shearers. The lyrics of Australia's best-known folk song, "Waltzing Matilda", were written by the bush poet Banjo Paterson in 1895. This song remains popular and is regarded as "the nation's unofficial national anthem".
Other well-known singers of Australian folk music include Rolf Harris (who wrote "Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport"), John Williamson, and Eric Bogle whose 1972 song "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" is a sorrowful lament to the Gallipoli Campaign. Bush dance is a traditional style of dance from Australia with strong Celtic roots, and influenced country music. It is generally accompanied by such instruments as the fiddle, accordion, concertina and percussion instruments.
The national anthem of Australia is "Advance Australia Fair". Unofficial pop music anthems of Australia include Peter Allen's "I Still Call Australia Home", Men at Work's "Down Under", and Icehouse's "Great Southern Land.
The earliest Western musical influences in Australia can be traced back to two distinct sources: the first free settlers who brought with them the European classical music tradition, and the large body of convicts and sailors, who brought the traditional folk music of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The practicalities of building a colony mean that there is very little music extant from this early period although there are samples of music originating from Hobart and Sydney that date back to the early 19th century.
Nellie Melba (1861–1931) travelled to Europe in 1886 to commence her international career as an opera singer. She became among the best known Australians of the period and participated in early gramophone recording and radio broadcasting.
The establishment of choral societies (c. 1850) and symphony orchestras (c. 1890) led to increased compositional activity, although many Australian classical composers attempted to work entirely within European models. A lot of works leading up to the first part of the 20th century were heavily influenced by the folk music of other countries (Percy Grainger's Country Gardens of 1918 being a good example of this) and a very conservative British orchestral tradition.
In the war and post-war eras, as pressure built to assert a national identity in the face of the looming superpower of the United States and the "motherland" Britain, composers looked to their surroundings for inspiration. John Antill and Peter Sculthorpe began to incorporate elements of Aboriginal music, and Richard Meale drew influence from south-east Asia (notably using the harmonic properties of the Balinese Gamelan, as had Percy Grainger in an earlier generation). Nigel Butterley combined his penchant for international modernism with an own individual voice.
By the beginning of the 1960s, Australian classical music erupted with influences, with composers incorporating disparate elements into their work, ranging from Aboriginal and south-east Asian music and instruments, to American jazz and blues, to the belated discovery of European atonality and the avant-garde. Composers like Don Banks, Don Kay, Malcolm Williamson and Colin Brumby epitomise this period. In recent times composers including Liza Lim, Nigel Westlake, Ross Edwards, Graeme Koehne, Georges Lentz, Elena Kats-Chernin, Richard Mills, Brett Dean and Carl Vine have embodied the pinnacle of established Australian composers.
Well-known Australian classical performers include: sopranos Dame Joan Sutherland, Dame Joan Hammond, Joan Carden, Yvonne Kenny, Sara Macliver and Emma Matthews; pianists Roger Woodward, Eileen Joyce, Michael Kieran Harvey, Geoffrey Tozer, Geoffrey Douglas Madge, Leslie Howard and Ian Munro; guitarists John Williams and Slava Grigoryan; horn player Barry Tuckwell; oboist Diana Doherty; violinists Richard Tognetti and Elizabeth Wallfisch; cellists John Addison and David Pereira; organist Christopher Wrench; orchestras like the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra; and conductors Sir Bernard Heinze, Sir Charles Mackerras, Richard Bonynge, Simone Young and Geoffrey Simon. Indigenous performers like didgeridoo player William Barton and immigrant musicians like Egyptian-born oud virtuoso Joseph Tawadros have stimulated interest in their own music traditions and have also collaborated with other musicians and ensembles both in Australia and internationally.
Pop and rock
Australia has produced a large variety of popular music from the internationally renowned work of the Bee Gees, AC/DC, INXS, Nick Cave or Kylie Minogue to the popular local content of John Farnham or Paul Kelly.
Among the brightest stars of early Australian rock and roll was Johnny O'Keefe, who formed a band in 1956; his hit Wild One made him the first Australian rock'n'roller to reach the national charts. While US and British content dominated airwaves and record sales into the 1960s, local successes began to emerge – notably The Easybeats and the folk-pop group The Seekers had significant local success and some international recognition, while the bands the Bee Gees and AC/DC had their first hits in Australia before going on to international success.
The arrival of the 1961 underground movement into the mainstream in the early 1970s changed Australian music permanently. Skyhooks were far from the first people to write songs in Australia by Australians about Australia, but they were the first ones to make good money doing it. The two best-selling Australian albums made up to that time put Australian music on the map. Within a few years, the novelty had worn off and it became commonplace to hear distinctively Australian lyrics and sounds side-by-side with imports.
During the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s Australian performers continued to do well on the local and international music scenes, for example Cold Chisel, INXS, Men at Work, Little River Band, Kylie Minogue, Dannii Minogue, Natalie Imbruglia, Savage Garden and Silverchair. Bands such as Jet, Wolfmother, Eskimo Joe, Grinspoon, The Vines, The Living End, Pendulum and Delta Goodrem have enjoyed success worldwide.
Domestically, John Farnham has remained one of Australia's best-known performers, with a career spanning over 40 years. Singer-songwriter Paul Kelly whose music style straddles folk, rock, and country has been described as the poet laureate of Australian music.
The national expansion of ABC youth radio station Triple J during the 1990s has increased the profile and availability of home-grown talent to listeners nationwide. Since the mid-1990s a string of successful alternative Australian acts have emerged; artists to achieve both underground (critical) and mainstream (commercial) success include You Am I, Grinspoon, Powderfinger and Jet.
Australia has a long tradition of country music, which has developed a style quite distinct from its US counterpart, influenced by Celtic folk ballads and the traditions of Australian bush balladeers like Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson. Pioneers of popular country music in Australia included Tex Morton in the 1930s and Smoky Dawson from the 1940s onward. Slim Dusty (1927–2003) was known as the King of Australian Country Music. His successful career spanned almost six decades and his 1957 hit "A Pub With No Beer" was the biggest-selling record by an Australian to that time, the first Australian single to go gold, and the only 78 rpm record to be awarded a gold disc. Dusty recorded and released his one-hundredth album in the year 2000 and was given the honour of singing Waltzing Matilda in the closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Dusty's wife Joy McKean penned several of his most popular songs.
Other popular performers of Australian country music include: John Williamson who wrote the iconic song "True Blue", Lee Kernaghan, Adam Brand, Kasey Chambers and Sara Storer. In the United States, Australian country music stars including Olivia Newton-John and Keith Urban have attained great success.
Country music has also been a particularly popular form of musical expression among the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Troy Cassar-Daley is among Australia's successful indigenous performers.
The Tamworth Country Music Festival is an annual country music festival held in Tamworth, New South Wales. It celebrates the culture and heritage of Australian country music. During the festival the Country Music Association of Australia holds the Country Music Awards of Australia ceremony awarding the Golden Guitar trophies.
Experiments with television began in Australia in the 1930s and television was officially launched on 16 September 1956, in Sydney. Colour TV arrived in 1975. The Logie Awards are the major annual awards for Australian TV.
While US and British television is popular in Australia, locally produced content has had many successes. Successful local product has included Homicide and Division 4 in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo in the late 1960s, Number 96 and The Box in the 1970s, Prisoner in the 1980s and A Country Practice (1981–1993), Neighbours and Home and Away in the 1980s and 1990s. Many of the shows from the mid-1980s onwards have been exported and have sometimes been even more successful abroad, such as Steve Irwin's The Crocodile Hunter. Popular stars of Australian TV have included: the pioneer variety show hosts Graham Kennedy, Bert Newton, Don Lane and Daryl Somers, and contemporary talk show hosts Andrew Denton and Rove McManus. Popular international exports have included: Dame Edna Everage, Clive James, Geoffrey Robertson and The Wiggles.
While Australia has ubiquitous media coverage, the longest established part of that media is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), the Federal Government owned and funded organisation offering national TV and radio coverage. The ABC, like the BBC in Britain, CBC in Canada, and PBS in the United States, is a non-commercial public service broadcaster, showing many BBC or ITV productions from Britain.
Commercial broadcasters include the Seven Network, the Nine Network and Network Ten on free-to-air broadcasting to the larger cities with affiliated regional networks like Prime Television and Win Television broadcasting to regional areas. Foxtel, Austar and Optus Television have been the main providers of pay TV. Fox 8 and Sky News Australia are among the popular Pay TV channels. The Australia Network, established in 2001, is Australia's international television service, beaming to more than 44 countries across Asia, the Pacific and the Indian subcontinent.
The publicly funded Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) has a multicultural focus, broadcasting TV and radio programmes in a variety of languages, as well as world news and documentary programming in English. It mixes highbrow programming along with popular non-English language television series broadcast in their original language, such as Inspector Rex, Rex in Rome, Don Matteo. It also shows more controversial programs such as South Park, Queer as Folk, and Oz that would not be shown on Australian free-to-air TV otherwise. Less mainstream sports such as football (soccer) and cycling receive coverage. SBS commenced as a commercial-free enterprise, but this changed in 2006 with the broadcasting of commercials between programs, to less than universal approval.
In the 1990s and first decade of the 21st century, Australia's two publicly funded national networks, ABC and SBS, received an increasing share of market ratings, although as of 2005 they only accounted for 15.7% and 6.1% of the national ratings, respectively.
The ABC has made a significant contribution to television drama with popular series like Brides of Christ, and to comedy with the 1970s hits Aunty Jack and The Norman Gunston Show and more recently Roy & HG, Kath & Kim and The Chaser's War On Everything. Debate about the role of the ABC continues; many assign it a marginal role, as commercial TV and radio stations are far more popular choices. Critics[who?] claim that Australian children view television programs imported largely from the USA, however, the Australian Content Standard requires all free-to-air commercial networks to broadcast an annual minimum of 55% Australian content between 6 a.m. and midnight. American dramas and comedies rate well on Australian TV. While Australian soap operas have found huge success in Britain, British comedies such as Fawlty Towers, The Goodies, Blackadder and The Office have been consistently popular in Australia.
Australia has no official state religion and Section 116 of the Australian Constitution prohibits the Commonwealth government from establishing a church or interfering with the freedom of religion. According to the 2006 Australian Census, 63.9% of Australians were listed as Christian. Historically, this proportion has been higher and a growing proportion of the population define themselves as irreligious, with 18.7% of Australians declaring 'no-religion' on the census. There are also growing communities of various other religions in Australia and 11.2% of people did not answer the question on the census. From the early decades after federation, people from diverse religious backgrounds have held public office. The first Jewish Governor General, Isaac Isaacs, was selected by the first Catholic prime minister, James Scullin, in the 1930s. In recent times, some prime ministers have identified as religious, others as non-religious.
Among Christians, the largest proportions were either Roman Catholic (25.8%) or Anglican (18.7%), with the third largest group being the 5.7% affiliated with the Uniting Church. Most other major religious faiths are also practised in Australia, reflecting the cultural diversity of the nation.
At the time of Federation in 1901, 97% of Australians professed to be Christians and Christianity has had an enduring impact on Australia. The Anglican Church (formerly Church of England) remained the largest denomination until 1986, when it was surpassed by the Roman Catholic Church. Australian Catholics were predominantly of Irish origin until post-world war two immigration brought more than a million Catholics from Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Germany, Croatia, Hungary and elsewhere. The Christian festivals of Christmas and Easter are national public holidays in Australia and Christian charitable organisations, hospitals and schools have played a prominent role in welfare and education since colonial times. In 2008, 697,000 Australian children (20% of total students) attended Catholic schools, and 750,000 attended church affiliated schools more generally (some of these being independent Catholic schools). Christian organisations such as the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Salvation Army and Anglicare provide high profile social services throughout Australia. Christians have played a prominent role in Australian history. Historically significant Christians include preachers David Unaipon, the first Aboriginal author, and the Reverend John Flynn, who founded the Royal Flying Doctor Service; both feature on Australian banknotes. Suffragette Catherine Helen Spence was not only Australia's first female political candidate, but also one of its first female preachers. Mary MacKillop, who co-founded an order of nuns in the 19th century, called the Sisters of St. Joseph, became the first Australian to be canonised as a Catholic Saint in 2010, and Sir Douglas Nicholls, a preacher and Aboriginal rights activist was the first indigenous Australian to be appointed Governor of an Australian State.
The proportion of the total population who are Christian fell from 71% in 1996 to around 64% in 2006, while people affiliated with non-Christian religions increased from around 3.5% to 5.6% over the same period. Buddhism increased most rapidly from 1.1% to 2.1%. Increased immigration from South-East Asia has been a major factor in this growth, but Australians of Anglo-Celtic origin have also shown increasing interest in Buddhism. Islam increased during the period from 1.1% to 1.7% with diverse communities concentrated mainly in Sydney and Melbourne. The history of the Jews in Australia dates back to 1788 and the Jewish convicts brought to Sydney aboard the First Fleet. Today, an estimated 120,000 Jews reside in Australia, many of them originating as refugees and Holocaust survivors who arrived during and after World War II. Hindus came to Australia as labourers and merchants during the 19th century and numbers increased dramatically from the 1960s, more than doubling between 1996 and 2006 to reach 148 000 people.
The tradition and spirituality of Aboriginal Australians places great emphasis on the role of tribal Elders in passing down stories of the Dreaming, and skills and lessons for survival (such as hunting and tracking). The creation story and belief system of the Aboriginal tradition, known in English as the Dreamtime, reverences the land and the animals and spirits that inhabit the land and animals. European settlement introduced Indigenous Australians to Christianity, especially through 'missions'. There was a wide range of experiences of the 'missions' by Aboriginal people.
Australia's calendar of public holiday festivals begins with New Year's Day. This is also the day upon which the Australian Federation officially came into being, however the national day, Australia Day, is celebrated on 26 January, which was the date of the official foundation of the first British colony at Sydney in 1788, an important beginning in modern Australian immigrant history. Anzac Day, 25 April is another day strongly associated with Australian nationhood, however it more particularly commemorates Australians who fought in wars and is named to honour the soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who landed at Gallipoli, on that same day in 1915, during the First World War.
Labour Day is also a public holiday, but on different days throughout the nation. The Queen's Birthday is generally observed on the second Monday in June, except in Western Australia, where it usually is observed in September or October to move it away from Western Australia Day (formerly Foundation Day). On the Queen's Birthday holiday, as on Australia Day, national awards are distributed to distinguished citizens for services to the community.
Contemporary Australian cuisine combines British and indigenous origins with Mediterranean and Asian influences. Australia's abundant natural resources allow access to a large variety of quality meats, and to barbecue beef or lamb in the open air is considered a cherished national tradition. The great majority of Australians live close to the sea and Australian seafood restaurants have been listed among the world's best.
Bush tucker refers to a wide variety of plant and animal foods native to the Australian bush: bush fruits such as kakadu plums, finger limes and desert quandongs; fish and shellfish of Australia's saltwater river systems; and bush meats including emu, crocodile and kangaroo. Many of these are still seasonally hunted and gathered by Indigenous Australians, and are undergoing a renaissance of interest on contemporary Australian menus. The macadamia nut is the most famous bushfood plant harvested and sold in large quantities. A popular modern exponent of bush tucker is television personality Les Hiddins, known as "The Bush Tucker Man".
Early British settlers brought familiar meats and crops with them from Europe and these remain important in the Australian diet. The British settlers found some familiar game - such as swan, goose, pigeon, and fish - but the new settlers often had difficulty adjusting to the prospect of native fauna as a staple diet. They established agricultural industries producing more familiar Western style produce. Queensland and New South Wales became Australia's main beef cattle producers, while dairy cattle farming is found in the southern states, predominantly in Victoria. Wheat and other grain crops are spread fairly evenly throughout the mainland states. Sugar cane is also a major crop in Queensland and New South Wales. Fruit and vegetables are grown throughout Australia. "Meat and three veg", fish and chips, and the Australian meat pie continue to represent traditional meals for many Australians. The post-World War II multicultural immigration program brought new flavours and influences, with waves of immigrants from Greece, Italy, Vietnam, China, and elsewhere bringing about diversification of the typical diet consumed.
Australia's 11 million square kilometre fishing zone is the third largest in the world and allows for easy access to seafood which significantly influences Australian cuisine. Clean ocean environments produce high quality seafoods. Lobster, prawns, tuna, salmon and abalone are the main ocean species harvested commercially, while aquaculture produces more than 60 species for consumption, including oysters, salmonoids, southern bluefin tuna, mussels, prawns, barramundi, yellowtail kingfish, and freshwater finifish. While inland river and lake systems are relatively sparse, they nevertheless provide some unique fresh water game fish and crustacea suitable for dining. Fishing and aquaculture constitute Australia's fifth most valuable agricultural industry after wool, beef, wheat and dairy. Approximately 600 varieties of marine and freshwater seafood species are caught and sold for both local and overseas consumption. Popular seafoods of local origin include barramundi, flathead, and the balmain bug, while the popularity of Australian prawns led to a successful tourism campaign in the 1980s in which actor/comedian Paul Hogan invited Americans to come to Australia where he would "throw a shrimp on the barbie for ya".
Vegemite is a well-known spread originating from Australia, though currently produced by the US-owned food company Kraft Foods. Iconic Australian desserts include pavlova and lamingtons. ANZAC biscuits recall the diet of Australia's World War I soldiers at the Battle of Gallipoli.
Australia's reputation as a nation of heavy drinkers goes back to the earliest days of colonial Sydney, when rum was used as currency and grain shortages followed the installation of the first stills. Despite this traditional reputation however, Australians consume significantly less alcohol per capita than people in both Western and Eastern European nations such as Great Britain, France, Italy and Russia, and in Asian nations such as South Korea.
Billy tea is the drink prepared by the ill-fated swagman in the popular Australian folk song Waltzing Matilda. Boiling water for tea over a camp fire and adding a gum leaf for flavouring remains an iconic traditional Australian method for preparing tea, which was a staple drink of the Australian colonial period.
The Australian Wine Industry is the fourth largest exporter of wine around the world and contributes $5.5 billion per annum to the nation's economy. In the early 21st century, Australians consume nearly 500 million litres of wine per year. Wine is produced in every state, however, wine regions are mainly in the southern, cooler regions. Amongst the most famous wine districts are the Hunter Region and Barossa Valley and among the best known wine producers are Penfolds, Rosemount Estate, Wynns Coonawarra Estate and Lindemans. The Australian wine Penfolds Grange was the first wine from outside France or California to win the Wine Spectator award for Wine of the Year in 1995.
Beer in Australia has been popular since colonial times. James Squires is considered to have founded Australia's first commercial brewery in 1798 and the Cascade Brewery in Hobart, Tasmania has been operating since the early 19th century. Since the 1970s, Australian beers have become increasingly popular globally - with Foster's Lager being an iconic export brand. Fosters is not however the biggest seller on the local market, with alternatives including Victoria Bitter outselling the popular export.
Clothing and apparel
Australia has no official designated national dress, but iconic local styles include bushwear and surfwear. Australian designers and models also feature at international creative glamour fashion industry gatherings. The country's best-known fashion event is Australian Fashion Week, a twice yearly industry gathering showcasing the latest seasonal collections from Australian and Asia Pacific Designers. Top Australian models include Elle Macpherson, Miranda Kerr and Jennifer Hawkins (Miss Universe 2004).
Major examples of clothing brands associated with bushwear are the broad brimmed Akubra hats and R.M. Williams bushmen's outfitters (featuring in particular: moleskin trousers, riding boots and merino woolwear). Blundstone Footwear and Country Road are also linked to this tradition. The cork hat is a type of headgear strongly associated with Australia, and comprises cork strung from the brim, to ward off insects. It is traditionally worn by jackaroos and swagmen in the blow-fly infested Australian outback. Movement of the head causes the corks to swing, discouraging insects from swarming around the wearer's head. At the 2007 APEC Summit in Sydney and the 2009 Pacific Islands Forum in Cairns, the gathered world leaders were clothed in Australian bushwear: Driza-Bone jackets and R.M. Williams respectively. Driza-Bone coats were also worn by the stockmen and the music band at the 2000 Summer Olympics opening ceremony in Sydney. Medal presenters during the 2000 Summer Olympic Games also wore Driza-Bone coats.
Ugg boots are unisex sheepskin boots, made of twin-faced sheepskin with fleece on the inside and with a tanned outer surface, often with a synthetic sole which were first developed in Australia or New Zealand. Traditionally worn for comfort and favoured by the working classes in Australia, since 2000 the boot style has experienced a world-wide growth in popularity as fashion.
The slouch hat was first worn by military forces in Australia in 1885, looped up on one side so that rifles could be held at the slope without damaging the brim. After federation, the slouch hat became standard Australian Army headgear in 1903 and since then it has developed into an important national symbol and is worn on ceremonial occasions by the Australian army.
Many Australians are passionate about sport, and it forms a major part of the country's culture in terms of spectating and participation. Cricket is popular in the summer, and football codes are popular in the winter. Australian traditions such as grand finals and footy tipping are shared amongst the codes.
Australia's successes in events such as the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, World Cup competitions in cricket, rugby union, rugby league, field hockey, netball, and major tournaments in tennis, golf, surfing, and other sports are a source of pride for many Australians. Sportspeople such as Donald Bradman, Dawn Fraser, and Cathy Freeman remain in the nation's cultural memory and are accorded high civilian honours and public status.
Cricket has been among the most popular sports in Australia since colonial times. The game is played during the summer months at a local, state and international level, with international matches drawing large crowds. It is followed in all states and territories, unlike the football codes whose popularity varies between regions.
The first recorded cricket match in Australia took place in Sydney in 1803. Intercolonial cricket in Australia started in 1851 and Sheffield Shield inter-state cricket continues to this day. In 1866, champion cricketer and Australian rules football pioneer Tom Wills coached the first Aboriginal cricket team, which later toured England in 1868 under the captaincy of Charles Lawrence. The 1876–77 season is notable for a match between a combined XI from New South Wales and Victoria and a touring English team at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which was later recognised as the first Test match. A famous victory on the 1882 tour of England resulted in the placement of a satirical obituary in an English newspaper saying that English cricket had "died", and the "body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia". The English media then dubbed the next English tour to Australia (1882–83) as the quest to "regain the ashes". The tradition continues with the Ashes series, an icon of the sporting rivalry between the two countries.
Successful cricketers often become lasting celebrities in Australia. Sir Donald Bradman, who made his Test debut in the 1928–29 series against England, is regarded as the game's greatest batsman and a byword for sporting excellence. Other Australian cricketers who remain household names include Richie Benaud, Dennis Lillee and Shane Warne. Internationally, Australia has for most of the last century sat at or near the top of the cricketing world. In the 1970s, Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer founded World Series Cricket from which many international forms of the game have evolved.
Events on the cricket pitch have occasionally been elevated to diplomatic incidents in Australian history, such as the infamous Bodyline controversy of the 1930s, in which the English team bowled in a physically intimidating way leading to accusations of unsportsmanlike conduct.
Australian rules football is the most highly attended spectator sport in Australia, though its core support lies in four of the six states: Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. Originating in Melbourne in the late 1850s and codified in 1859, the sport is the world's oldest major football code. The national competition, the Australian Football League (AFL), evolved from the Victorian Football League in 1990, and has expanded to all states except Tasmania. The AFL Grand Final is traditionally played on the last Saturday of September at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Australian rules football culture has a strong set of rituals and traditions, such as kick-to-kick and barracking. International rules football is a hybrid sport of Australian football and Gaelic football devised to facilitate matches between Australia and Ireland.
Rugby union was first played in Australia in the 1860s and is followed predominately in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. The Australian national rugby union team is known as the Wallabies. Despite having a relatively small player base, Australia has twice won the Rugby World Cup (1991 and 1999), and hosted the 2003 Rugby World Cup. Other notable competitions include the annual Bledisloe Cup, played against Australia's main rivals, the New Zealand All Blacks, and the Rugby Championship, involving South Africa, New Zealand, and Argentina. Provincial teams from Australia, South Africa and New Zealand compete in the annual Super Rugby competition. Rugby test matches are also popular and have at times become highly politicised; during the 1970s, many Australians (including the Wallabies) demonstrated against the racially selected South African team. Notable Australian rugby union players include Sir Edward Dunlop, Mark Ella (one of the first indigenous Australians to captain a national side) and the prolific try scorer David Campese.
In 1908, rugby league was established in Australia, by former rugby union players and supporters as a breakaway professional code. The new code gained and has maintained a wider following in Australia than rugby union, which remained amateur until the 1990s. The sport has roots in the working class communities of Lancashire and Yorkshire in Northern England, translating to similar areas in Western Sydney and Brisbane. The elite club competition is the National Rugby League (NRL), which features ten teams from New South Wales, three teams from Queensland, and one team each from Victoria, Australian Capital Territory and New Zealand. The season culminates in the premiership deciding game, the NRL Grand Final. The New South Wales Blues and Queensland Maroons complete in the annual State of Origin series. In addition, the Australian Kangaroos represent the country in international matches. Since its inception in 1954, the Australian team has dominated the Rugby League World Cup, having won the competition nine times.
Despite attracting less media attention than Australian rules football and rugby league, soccer is Australia's highest participation football code. Major international stars from Australia include Tim Cahill, Mark Viduka, Mark Schwarzer and Harry Kewell. During the second half of the 20th century the most prominent soccer clubs in Australia were based around ethnic groups, mostly European. However, the national league was completely reformed in 2004. Australia's national team, the Socceroos, as of 2010 has competed in three FIFA World Cup championships. The Australian national team moved from the Oceania Football Confederation to the Asian Football Confederation in 2006, a much stronger confederation which has helped win places in the World Cup, allowing the Australian team to avoid repetition of a history of missed opportunities in forced sudden-death playoffs.
Australia's warm climate and long coastline of sandy beaches and rolling waves provide ideal conditions for water sports such as swimming and surfing. The majority of Australians live in cities or towns on or near the coast, and so beaches are a place that millions of Australians visit regularly.
Swimming is a popular pastime for Australians. In the early 1900s, members of the Australian Cavill family pioneered the crawl stroke ("Australian crawl") and butterfly stroke. Australia is a world power in Olympic swimming, second only to the United States in total gold medals in the sport. Swimmers like Dawn Fraser, Kieren Perkins and Ian Thorpe have taken multiple gold medals.
Australians have a particular affinity for surf lifesaving, and surf lifesavers have a revered status in Australian culture. The world's first surf lifesaving club, Bondi Surf Bathers' Life Saving Club, was founded at Bondi Beach, Sydney, in 1906. Surf Life Saving Australia has conducted hundreds of thousands of rescues around Australia. Tens of thousands of Australians compete in surf lifesaving training and competitions, such as Ironman events.
In the summer of 1915, Duke Kahanamoku of Hawaii introduced surf board riding to Sydney's Freshwater Beach, amazing locals and starting a long term love affair with the sport in Australia. In 2007, both the male (Mick Fanning) and female (Stephanie Gilmore) ASP champions were Australian.
The Sydney to Hobart yacht race is a much anticipated fixture on the Australian sporting calendar. Australia won the America's Cup under skipper John Bertrand in 1983, becoming the first country other than the United States to win the race.
Basketball remains one of the most popular participation sports in Australia, having a larger participation base than cricket, rugby league and rugby union. In Victoria, it is experiencing a large participation boom for youths, and is the largest participation sport in that state. The National Basketball League (NBL) is the top-level men's basketball competition, which began in 1979 and is currently contested by eight teams – seven from Australia and one from New Zealand. The Women's National Basketball League (WNBL) is the top women's basketball league, having begun in 1981.
Netball has the highest level of participation for a women's sport in Australia, and one of the largest numbers of participants for any Australian sport. The premier league is the ANZ Championship, formed in 2008, which includes five teams each from Australia and New Zealand. Formerly the premier league was the Commonwealth Bank Trophy, which began in 1997. The Australian National Netball Championships is an interstate youth competition. The governing body for the sport is Netball Australia, which was founded in 1927. The Netball World Championships is a quadrennial international netball world championship, inaugurated in 1963. Since its inception, the competition has been dominated primarily by the Australian national netball team (The Diamonds) and the New Zealand national netball team (the Silver Ferns).
Since the 1970s, gambling has become more easily accessible to the public, and consequently many Australians take an interest in sports on which they can bet, including mainstream sports such as cricket and football as well as traditional mediums for "punting" such as horse racing and greyhound racing.
Horse racing has had a prominent place in Australian culture since early days, with the first spectator sports event in Australia being NSW Governor Macquarie's race meeting at Hyde Park, Sydney in 1810. First run in 1861, the Melbourne Cup is known as "the race that stops a nation" for the enthusiasm with which Australians natiowide tune in for the annual race.
The Australian V8 Supercars series is steadily growing in popularity across the world, where television coverage allows.
Several non-mainstream sports in Australia still attract a high standard from Australian teams due the sporting culture. For example, it regularly raises world-beating field hockey teams. Australian cyclists have won international cycling competitions, most notably Cadel Evans' win in the 2011 Tour de France. In 2008, the Tour Down Under, centred around Adelaide, became the first UCI ProTour cycling race to be held outside of Europe. Among young people and within schools nationwide, various forms of handball or downball games have been among the most prevalent sports games for some decades.
Snow sports are enjoyed in the Australian Alps and in Tasmania. Skiing in Australia was first introduced by Norwegian miners in the gold mining town of Kiandra in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales around 1859. The sport remains a popular winter activity in the south-eastern states and territories. Major alpine skiing resorts include Thredbo, Perisher and Charlotte Pass in New South Wales; Mount Hotham, Falls Creek and Mount Buller in Victoria and Mount Ben Lomond in Tasmania. Extensive areas are available for cross country skiing within national parks including Kosciuszko National Park (NSW), Alpine National Park (VIC); Namadgi National Park (ACT) and in the Tasmanian Wilderness. Australia has long participated in the Winter Olympics and has won medals at the Games since the 1990s.
Increased interest and participation in American sports has led to opportunities for Australians to play at the top level in sports such as baseball, basketball and American football. Grant Balfour is a relief pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays, and played in the 2008 World Series. Australian basketballers have done well at the Olympics, coming fourth four times. Australians such as Luc Longley and Andrew Bogut have had long careers in the US National Basketball Association. Australian women have made an even bigger impact in the US Women's National Basketball Association, with Lauren Jackson captaining the Seattle Storm, and the Australian women's basketball team have won three silver and one bronze medal at the Olympics. The skill set of Australian rules footballers fits the mould of US National Football League (NFL) punters, and they stand out from their American peers with their ability to tackle returners. Two former AFL footballers competed in the 2009 NFC Championship game as punters, Saverio Rocca for the Philadelphia Eagles and Ben Graham for the Arizona Cardinals. Graham's appearance in Super Bowl XLIII made him the first Australian to play in the NFL's championship game. The first College Bowl game to feature two Australians was the 2012 BCS National Championship Game with punter Brad Wing from LSU and defensive end Jesse Williams for Alabama.
Attitudes, beliefs and stereotypes
According to a 2009 survey, Australians overwhelmingly favour free speech and freedom to criticise their governments on the internet, and also favour that children’s content should be restricted.
The mateship culture combined with the original convict and then colonial culture has created an irreverence for established authority, particularly if it is pompous or out of touch with reality. Politicians, or "pollies", are generally disliked and distrusted. Politicians who seek to lead must comply to the views of the egalitarian electorate, who will punish any hint of arrogance or glory-seeking behaviour. Voter turnout at elections had in fact been so low that compulsory voting was introduced for the 1925 federal election.
The phrase "the lucky country", coined by Donald Horne, is a reference to Australia's weather, lifestyle, and history. Ironically, Horne was using the term to criticise the complacency of Australian society in the early 1960s.
Australian stories and legends have a cultural significance independent of their empirical truth or falsehood. This can be seen in the national obsession with the almost mythological portrayal of bushranger Ned Kelly as a mixture of the underdog and Robin Hood.
Australian history glorifies its sportsmen and its soldiers. Yet like many legends, truths do stem from it. Australia has shown, in the past and present, that for a country of just over 23 million people, it is capable of extraordinary things in the sporting arenas, such as the 49 medals won at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Militarily, Australians have served in numerous overseas wars, ranging from the Battle of Gallipoli, through to recent regional security missions, such as East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Australian war culture is somewhat different from most other western cultures. It generally consists of sombre reflection and commemoration of all who have died in wartime and honouring those who lived. It focuses on noble sacrifice rather than glory. An annual national holiday, Anzac Day, exists for this purpose.
The Australian experience of defeat in the Gallipoli Campaign of World War I, which is viewed as the first iconic moment in modern Australian war involvement, is viewed by Australians with both pride for the fighting of the soldiers, and bitterness for the perceived negligence on the part of British commanders. The incidences of valour, bravery, and determination displayed during the campaign for Gallipoli, as well as the mutual respect for their Turkish adversaries led by Kemal Atatürk, is seen as part of the ANZAC spirit. This experience of war was repeated at battles on the Western Front, such as the Battle of Passchendaele.
During the latter part of the First World War the legend of Australians being great soldiers was entrenched as the First Australian Imperial Force was used as the shock troops of the British Empire forces. The Battle of Amiens, known as the "Black Day of the German Army", was a campaign in which Australian soldiers played a crucial role. The Australians were considered to be remarkably determined, united and hard-working soldiers. Many Australians knew how to ride and shoot prior to enlistment, making them talented recruits, but the Australian soldiers were infamous for their lax attitude towards formal parade ground discipline, a notoriety that the Australian soldiers revelled in. From this the notion of the larrikin Digger emerged, an important part of contemporary Australian identity.
Australians and New Zealanders have a rivalry, especially in certain sports such as rugby league, rugby union and netball. The rivalry is often compared to brothers in the same family competing against each other. Rivalry between Australia and allies such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand is friendly and jocular in nature, as Australians often view these nations as members of an Anglosphere cultural tradition which has significant overlap with their own.
The Australian dream
The Australian dream of home ownership underpins suburban Australia. However, this has been challenged by the low affordability of housing in Australia.
Mirroring the tall poppy syndrome which brings back to Earth the high fliers, the egalitarian Australian society has a traditional Australian support for the "underdog". Australians will show support for those who appear to be at a disadvantage even when the underdog is competing against fellow Australians.
This underdog attitude is most evident in sport, as sport is also a large part of Australian culture. Should an Australian be asked to choose between two unknown competitors, very often they will choose the one least likely to win, such as swimmer Eric the Eel during the 2000 Olympics. The success of Steven Bradbury in the 2002 Winter Olympics who won a skating gold medal after all his competitors crashed has coined the expression 'doing a Bradbury' which underpins the spirit of the underdog, positive thinking and never giving up.
During the 2003 Rugby World Cup, the Georgian rugby team arrived in Perth with a crowd of Perth residents welcoming them with colourful support, and a similar occurrence was noted in Townsville, Queensland where the Japanese rugby team was preferred to that of the French.
A "fair go"
The belief in a "fair go" is a key part of Australian culture and Australian society. One accepted definition of a "fair go" in this Australian sense is "a chance, an adequate opportunity. Often used to describe a fair and reasonable course of action". The right to "a fair go" has been found to be the most highly rated value on a recent published survey of the opinion of Australian citizens.
This belief sustains bipartisan political support for strong public health and education systems in Australia, as well as legislation such as equal opportunity legislation to ensure people are not excluded from jobs or positions by their race, gender or sexual orientation. This value is frequently cited by politicians who wish to associate themselves or their party with the positive connotations of this notion.
There has been ongoing public and political discussion of the place and future of "the fair go" in Australian society. This is especially frequent with reference to economics issues and policies.
The call for "a fair go" is also regularly used by advocates wanting to point out groups who have been overlooked or treated unfairly according to the expectations of treatment by the wider community. Recent examples of this include media presentation of the treatment of illegal immigrants asylum seekers, and refugees, as well as the community campaign in support of "a fair go" for the large group of Australian doctors who have been classified as "non-vocationally registered general practitioners" (non-VR GPs), and are subject to discriminatory pay and conditions compared to their colleagues, for identical work.
The idea of cultural cringe was defined by Australian sociologists Brian Head and James Walter as the belief that one's own country occupies a "subordinate cultural place on the periphery", and that "intellectual standards are set and innovations occur elsewhere". As a consequence, a person who holds this belief is inclined to devalue their own country's cultural, academic and artistic life, and to venerate the "superior" culture of another country.
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