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The Australian identity Essay

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The Australian identity is a complex and ever changing image. It is impossible to define using one singular concept, event or symbol. The multicultural society Australia proudly hosts makes it difficult to develop and pin point an accurate and widely accepted national identity and idology. The three texts ‘Then and Now’ by Ooderoo of the tribe Noonuccal, ‘Eucalyptus’ by Murray Bail and ‘Nobody Calls me a Wog anymore’ by Kimninos, each reflect the different forces that have shaped and forged the Australian identity into the broad concept it is today.

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The poem ‘Then and Now’ by Ooderoo of the tirbe Noonuccal provides an indigenous perspective of the Australian identity by highlighting the radical change in lifestyle since the early colonisation and English settlement. The contrast of the Aboriginal culture and their connectedness to the land is compared against the “traffic and trade of the busy town”. The poem adds a contemporary Indigenous response and outlook towards the emposed new culture and society protocol.

Through the use of tone the theme and feelings of grief and dislocation are explored as the poet tells of the change in lifestyle over her lifetime.

The poem opens with a joyous, nostalgic and reflective tone as the poet contemplates with her tribe, “I hear my tribe laughing as they hunt and swim”. This emphasizes the vibrance and virtality of indigenous life while communicating the rich sense of community and friendship as the core of the Aboriginal culture.

The opening is contrasted against a dull, sorrowful and isolated tone as the negative change in lifestyle for indigenous people is conveyed, “I see no more tribe of old as i walk alone in this teeming town.” The contrast in tone continues throughout the text as the poem moves between the past and present. It evokes empathy and saddness from the reader whilst creating a remorseful mood.

First person as used in ‘Then and Now’ allows the reader to intimately relate to the poets grief and loss. “I have seen corroboree where that factory belches smoke.” First person gives a sense of intimacy, authenticity and personal hardship. Readers can’t help but feel responsible for the poets grief and disapointment.

The two techniques tone and first person naration together support the theme of indigenous dislocation while demonstrating a historical apect of the Australian identity in highlighting the forced sacrifices and change made to the rich traditions and culture of the Australian indigenous people.

‘Eucalyptus’ by Murray Bail is a romantic love story about Holland, a father who couldn’t come to a decision regarding the marriage of his beautiful daughter Ellen. They lived on a property in country New south Wales where holland develops a passion for eucalyptus trees and where successfully plants every known species. The man who could name every tree on the property would win the hand of his daughter.

Set in the Australian Outback the ‘love story of the year’ generates an aspect of identity through the intense description and inclusion of the unique Australian landscape, particularly the native Eucalyptus tree.

Through the use of characterisation the main character Holland is portrayed as a county loving bushman. This such characterisation reveals the outback farmer and agricultural driven perspective of the Australian identity.

Like the multiculturalism and diversity of the Australian society, the common ground that links our nation is that we are all equally Australian, similarily like the hundreds of eucalyptus species they each- regardless of their differences- are all equally beautifull Eucalyptus trees. The eucalyrtus trees mentioned in Bails novel represent a diverse togetherness, symbolic of our Australian multicultural identity. “A person could wonder amongst the many different species and pick up a lot of information, at the same time be enthralled by the clear examples of beauty.”

The poem ‘Nobody Calls me a Wog Anymore’ is a passionate, fiery and forceful view of the Australian identity written from the perspective of the Greek imigrant Kimninos. The poem presents a multicultural image to Australia’s identity in highlighting a man fighting for acceptance and an identity in a land now known for its cultural diversity.

The poet uses first person naration to express feelings of anger and frustration thourgh the use of emmotive language. “I stand up and scream it, point my finger accusingly and thump my fist demandingly.” First person allows the reader to connect with the poets point of view.

First person gives the poem a conversational and humerous style which adds to the emotional appeal. This technique supports the feelings of desperation, longing and passion to assert ones indentity as a socially accepted “Aussie”.

Through the use of first person and expressing emotive language, the poets perspective of Australians is negative and a discrimminiative, ignorant and naive attitude is portrayed.

The poet uses the technique tone very passionately and effectively. He conveys very clearly his feelings of anger and frustration. He creates mood and pulls a confronted response from readers, “wether you like it or not, I am one of you.” The tone aggresive, confronting and dominant. A change occurs in the tone towards the end suggesting the journey Kimninos has overcome to finally be a socially accepted Australian. The tone becomes one of relief and justification as he confidently states his identity as an Australian poet.

The journey and feelings conveyed by Kimninos is one shared by many ethnic Australians today.

Is it the bush, the beach or the city?Is he/she White Australian, ethnic or Indigenous?Is it agricultural, multicultural or native?It is all.

What make Australia so gloriously unique is our diversity and dependancy in landscape, nationality, history and culture. We are unique because we are harmoniously diverse and distinct and hold many different variations of identity.


Then and Now’ -poem. Written by Ooderoo of the tribe Noonuccal.

‘Eucalyptus’ -Novel. Written by Murray Bail.

‘Nobody Calls Me A Wog Anymore’ -poem. Written by Kimninos.

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