Australian Identity & Culture
1. the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively. 2. the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society. 3. Biology,
the cultivation of bacteria, tissue cells, etc. in an artificial medium containing nutrients. 4. the cultivation of plants.
- ORIGIN Middle English [denoting a cultivated piece of land] : the noun from French culture or directly from Latin cultura ‘growing, cultivation’; the verb from obsolete French culturer or medieval Latin culturare, both based on Latin colere ‘tend, cultivate’ [see Cultivate]. In late Middle English the sense was ‘cultivation of the soil’ and from this [early 16th century], arose ‘cultivation [of the mind, faculties, or manners’]; CULTURE [Sense 1 of the noun] dates from the early 19th century.
Australia has many things in common with the rest of the world. There are though, several parts of our national identity and culture which are peculiar to us. These are detailed in the sections below. They include emphasis on physical as opposed to mental achievement, the concept of mateship, Australian idiom, language and humour, … . The concept of multiculturalism is also included. Be aware culture and national identity are always changing.
This page covers topics A to L including areas such as Art & Culture, Australian Identity, Humour, Educational Activities, Australian Values, Language, … .
The Second Page covers topics M to Z including areas such as Mateship, Myths & Stereotypes, Multiculturalism, Social & Cultural Features and Sport.
Journals, databases, primary documents, reference material and other information are included where these are relevant.
A - F
Arts & Culture
The role of Arts, Music and Literature within the Australian culture.
- About Australia : People,
Culture and lifestyle
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Sections cover Innovation, Sport, Media and Creative Australia.
- Australian Painters
The role of artists from settlement on, what impact they had on Australia. Australia.gov.au.
- Culture and Arts
Includes sections from Arts to Recreational Activities. Australia.gov.au. links to Australian stories and biographies.
- Curator Insights
‘Free Podcast. Explore works from the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ Australian collection and discover how local history and art intersect’.
- Modern Australian Poetry
‘During the 1930s and 1940s there was much debate about modernist poetry and what it meant. In the 1930s, in Adelaide, two poetry movements emerged : the Jindyworobaks and the Angry Penguins’. Australia.gov.au.
- Popular Culture 1945 - Present
History Teachers’ Association of Australia. ‘Music has been chosen as the exemplar to indicate the range of approaches and activities that can be utilised in a study of popular culture’.
- Portrait Stories
‘A trusty digital companion to the National Gallery collection. Use it to peruse the portraits and learn more about the people who have shaped Australia’. App. Rated 12+.
Portrait stories, National Portrait Gallery is an online version using ‘video, multimedia and sound to present some of the stories of the artists and subjects’.
- The Lucky Country
Article about Donald Horne and his book. ‘He was thinking about things like Australia’s cultural cringe, its foreign policy and the White Australia Policy. He was, to paraphrase those words, talking about a “not too clever country” ’. Australia.gov.au.
- Top 10 Aussie songs -
‘Music has played a huge part in shaping the Australian culture. Here's a list of the 10 most iconic Aussie songs’. Compiled in 2011.
What sort of humour is considered Australian ?
- Australian Comedy
‘Comedy is central to Australian cultural identity. The history of Australian comedy and the distinctly Australian humour, reflects the country’s search for a national identity based on both Australia's convict origins and the convict sense of humour and also Australia’s physical characteristics’. Overview and extensive links. Australia.gov.au.
- Australian Humour
‘Recognised the world over as being distinctly Australian. Our humour is dry, full of extremes, anti-authoritarian, self-mocking and ironic’. Styles of humour, humour in various media, links. Australia.gov.au.
- Australian Humour - Larrikin
‘Australian humour shows the fingerprints of convicts who lived their lives by challenging taboos, breaking rules and being different. Today, the humour makes some people laugh, but can also put a few noses out of joint’.
- Australian Humour - What
makes us laugh ?
ABC. ‘One expert says it is most notable because there is no place or occasion where a good joke is considered inappropriate. So what makes you laugh ?’ Comedy excerpts included.
- Australian political
Cartooning - A Rich Tradition
‘Australia has a strong and vibrant history of political cartooning. They have provided satirical, witty or humorous comment on political and public affairs, social customs, fashions, sports events and personalities’. Australia.gov.au.
- Behind the Lines - 2014
‘The Year’s Best Political Cartoons condenses a year of political highs and lows into 80 of the best cartoons of 2014’.
- Updated !
Cartoon commentary by Bill Leak.
A country’s culture is often reflected in the cartoons about its way of life. This is one example. Cartoons by Nicholson that reflect Australian, rather than international events. 19 items included.
- The Loaded Dog
Short story by Henry Lawson. Provides a good example of ‘Aussie humour’.
- They’re A Weird Mob
A quintessential expression of coming to grips with the Australian culture. The second part of the movie is found here.
Identity, and what makes it, is an integral part of any culture. The following provides information about the ‘Australian’ identity.
- Australian Identity
Article. Director of the St James Ethics Centre.
- Australian Identity
Provides links to information on aspects of our identity from humour to the bush. Australia.gov.au.
- Australian Identity : A Cinematic Roll Call
‘Australian films have charted a range of views of the Australian identity, and in this article, I have identified four main strands’. Free.
- Updated !
Australian Identity - Identity &
Australian Screen. Range of film clips [movies & television]. ‘The clips have teachers’ notes related to this topic’.
- Celebrating Australia : Identity By
‘Revealed how concepts and symbols of national identity have been used and developed by Australian graphic designers throughout the 20th century’. Article.
- Does Australia Need a National Identity ?
Incorporates general information, quotes, a timeline review of changes, the present day. A related article on Language and Identity in Australia can be found here.
Humour, Multiculturalism, and the Aussie Spirit : The Australian Identity in 2012
This is a serious, social review. It can be freely downloaded in PDF format.
- Our People
A ‘wide variety of backgrounds, together with the culture of Indigenous Australians who have lived on the Australian continent for more than 50 000 years, have helped create a uniquely Australian identity and spirit’. Australia.gov.au.
Changing Face of Modern Australia
Looks at this over multiple periods. This section is the period from the 1900s to the 1940s. Links to other periods and aspects. Australia.gov.au.
- The Influence of the Bush on
European-Australian Identity in Australian children’s literature
Lengthy text article.
- Which Identity for Australians ?
‘Some of Australia’s best and brightest convened for a two day workshop on the futures of Australian identity, as a lead up to the Australia Davos Future Summit. The workshop explored and developed scenarios of the futures of Australian identity’. Article discussing this.
What values do Australians see as important ? Also check the sections on Mateship and Myths below.
- Updated !
Australian Culture, Australian Values
Brief but interesting presentation by La Trobe University on living in Australia.
- Australian Values
‘Tongue-in-the-cheek’ presentation on Australian values.
Warning : some people may be offended by sections of this.
- Life in Australia : Australian
‘We have introduced the Australian Values Statement and the Life in Australia book to help visa applicants learn what it means to live in Australia’. Department of Immigration & Border Protection.
Educational units and lessons about Australian Identity, most developed by education departments.
Australian Identity : Art Gallery NSW
A series of questions and activities based on several paintings including selections from Russell Drysdale and John Olsen.
- Australian History and Society since
National Museum of Australia. ‘Exploring the history of settlement in Australia and the development of the nation’s political, social and economic life since British colonisation of the continent’. Multiple sections, media options, units, interactives, more.
Identity : Who is an Australian ?
Developed for secondary level by Making Multicultural Australia. All resources can be accessed, all details are provided.
- Updated !
Community and Remembrance
BOSTES. One of their History [HSIE] units. A complete unit outline covering programming, presentation, assessment, etc.. Part of Updated ! a range of units for the History strand.
- Cultural Exchange NSW
‘Programs in Schools - Promoting Tolerance, Inclusion and Diversity’.
- Dictionary of Sydney - Education
‘We are pleased to extend our resources to include units of study for primary and secondary students. We believe that an understanding of Australian history cultivates a rich foundation for school students to acquire an understanding of global perspectives and to honour our past and present heritage’.
- Identity and Values - Skwirk Australia
Four topics, 13 sections, resources, more.
Australian Nation :
Who are we ? What do we value ?. Presentation from Civics & Citizenship Education. Three main activities. Secondary level. Linked through use of the Australian Readers.
- Voices of Australia
An education resource for Australian secondary school teachers. ‘Allows for the different stories of Australian people to be heard and celebrated in the classroom. Students will increase their awareness about experiences of diversity, discrimination, race relations, friendship, and respect. Curriculum linked’.
- We Are Australian
A Civics & Citizenship Education unit. Multiple activities. Middle Primary up. Linked through use of the Australian Readers.
- National Identity
Presentation from Radio National by Sara Cousins.
- Raffaello Carboni’s Perception of Australia And Australian
Article by G Rando on Carboni and his views of an emerging Australian identity. [Carboni was involved in the Eureka Stockade.]
- Racism as a Function of Egalitarianism
Multiple activities provided
- The Australian Bush
‘The bush has an iconic status in Australian life and features strongly in any debate about national identity, especially as expressed in Australian literature, painting, popular music, films and foods’. Australia.gov.au.
- The Road to Australia
Mawson Primary School. ‘This is a Year 6 unit integrating History, Geography, English and Technology curriculum areas. It is aligned with the Australian Curriculum and addresses the question : Who were the people who came to Australia and why did they come ?’
- Towards Demythologising the “Australian
Legend ” : Turner’s Frontier …
Access the complete article from the Journal of Social History via a connected institution.
- Who’ll come
a Waltzing Matilda with me ?
‘Aims to reveal some of the important primary and secondary sources that have informed the stories, myths and interpretations behind the song. Explore the original sources that tell the multiple stories of Waltzing Matilda’. Archived site from Pandora.
G - L
- Australian Culture
Category listing for Wikipedia pages. 152 listed at time of inclusion, plus a significant range of sub-categories. Scroll down for the page listing.
- Australian Culture 
Another tongue-in-cheek presentation. The only apparent, genuine piece of work is the C J Dennis poem. Make of it what you will !
- Australian Popular Culture
‘Selected full-text books and articles on this topic at Questia’.
- Australian Wisdom - Quotes by Australians
‘Although Australians may be descended from convicts and other underclasses of the world, it seems the underclasses have some interesting things to say’.
- Updated !
Includes ‘Overview; Diversity of birthplace; Diversity of language; Diversity of religion and spiritual beliefs’. From RacismNoWay.
- Australia’s Culture Portal
‘Connecting you with Australian Culture online’. Now archived through Pandora.
- Cultural Cringe
Origin, cultural alienation, occurrence in several countries including Australia, bibliography, references. Wikipedia.
- Cultural Policy in Australia
Article looking at the development and implementation of this.
- Culture of Australia
Arts, Sport, Attitudes, Beliefs & Stereotypes, notes, links. Wikipedia.
- Culture of Australia 
- Kew Cottages - A History
Discover life and culture through the knowledge of the inhabitants of Kew Cottages. Done in time periods from 1887 to 2008. Each period provides information on Living, Working, Families and the Outside World. Well presented.
- Society & Culture - National Library of
‘The Society and Culture talks keep you in touch with the Australia of the past, present and future. From the history of settlement through to studies of the environment’.
- The Changing Face of
Australia.gov.au. ‘The arrival of people from diverse societies created a cultural diversity that is now an integral part of Australian society and identity’.
Changing Face of Modern Australia - 1900s to 1940s
Australia.gov.au. ‘The years between the First and Second World Wars saw the emergence of cultural diversity in Australian society that was characterised by a expanded migration of people’.
- What Sort of Nation ?
Teaching unit, Discovering Democracy series.
For information in this area, go to Indigenous Australia
Idiom, Slang, Strine
- Australia Decoded
Dictionary of Australian English. Words, phrases, acronyms. Each has a clear, and at times extensive, explanation. Choose a beginning letter from the Australia Decoded search box in the main menu.
Highly Recommended !
- Australian Language, Letters and Literature
Examples of these, the influences behind them and their effects. Australia.gov.au. Archived version.
- Australian or Aussie Slang
‘Considering the variety of accents, & our tendency to use slang words in many situations, the slang shown here on this page should help most visitors to Australia, and give you a few laughs along the way’.
- Australian Slang
Colloquialisms, idiom, substitutions, sources for slang, gentle insults, perverse reversals, nicknames, lost phrases, further references, more.
- Australian Slang - Speaking Like An
‘English is the main language of Australia but for the first time visitor or uninitiated you could be forgiven for thinking you’d come across an entirely new language’.
- Slang and Peculiar Terms in Use in the A.I.F.
‘Compiled by the newly formed Australian War Memorial’s librarians over the period 1921 to 1924. A snapshot of the language of the soldiers who had fought for Australia and the Empire in the Middle East and Europe. Over 900 terms are included. We can get a real sense of how the average soldier spoke [the swear words that no doubt were also a central part of the soldiers’ vocabulary did not make it, although some are alluded to]. We also gain a sense of how Australian soldiers brought to the battlefields a distinct Aussie identity revealed in this language’. Australian National Dictionary Centre.
- Let Stalk Strine !
‘Taken from a publication called “Strine” by Afferbeck Lauder. Published by Ure Smith, Sydney. A lexicon on modern Strine usage’.
- Meanings and Origins of Australian Words and
‘A selection of Australian words, their meanings, and their etymologies’. Listed alphabetically. Australian National Dictionary Centre.
- Strine [“Ow’re yer going”]
History, with some examples of rhyming slang.
- The Gold Rushes and Australian English
A Resource for Researchers, Teachers, and Students. ‘The documents are intended to encourage students to do their own work with source material’. 13 groupings. Australian National Dictionary Centre.
- The Vocabulary of Australian English
‘This document outlines some of the most important sources of Australian words, and some of the important historical events that have shaped the creation of Australian words’. Australian National Dictionary Centre.