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The demographics of Australia show it to be one of the most urbanized populations in the world[citation needed], with the majority of Australians living in cities on the coast. Australia's cities are melting pots of different cultures. The indigenous Aboriginal culture survived the first influx of immigrants of Anglo-Irish heritage, who are still the most pervasive immigrant group. The great post-World War II influx of both English and non English-speaking migrants from Britain, Ireland, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, Malta and Eastern Europe, and later from the Middle East, East and South-East Asia, and the Indian subcontinent have been significant additions. Lesser numbers of immigrants have also come from the African and American continents.



Although Australia has no official language, it is largely monolingual with English being the "de facto" national language. Australian English has its own distinctive accent and vocabulary. 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 of these are now endangered. An indigenous language is the main language for about 50,000 people (0.25% of the population).[1]

Arts in Australia

The arts in Australiafilm, music, painting, theatre, dance and crafts — have achieved international recognition. However, in practice, it has often been difficult for observers to discern anything distinctly Australian by looking at much of its artistic output in music, dance, film or literature.

Traditional "high culture" gains small attention from much of the population, in contrast to popular culture. High culture thrives in the form with a few art galleries, a rich tradition in ballet, enlivened by the legacy of Edouard Borovansky and Sir Robert Helpmann, and continuing with the national ballet company The Australian Ballet, and choreographer/dancers such as Graeme Murphy and Meryl Tankard; a national opera company based in Sydney; and symphony orchestras in all capital cities, particularly the Melbourne and Sydney symphony orchestras. However, outside of the main centres artists struggle and high culture is virtually non-existent.[citation needed]

Independent culture thrives in all capital cities and exists in most large regional towns. The independent arts of music, film, art and street art, are the most extensive. Melbourne's independent music scene, is one of the largest in the world, whilst another can be found in the multitude of international street artists visiting Melbourne and, to a lesser extent, other major cities, to work for a period of time.



Contemporary Australian architecture includes a number of iconic structures, including the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne and Parliament House, Canberra. Significant architects include Harry Seidler and Francis Greenway.

In the period before European settlement of Australia in 1788, evidence of permanent structures built by indigenous Australians in Australia 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 major provincials such as Ballarat and Bendigo. Other significant architectural movements in Australian architecture include the Federation style of the turn of the 20th century and the modern styles of the late 20th century which also saw many older buildings demolished.

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.

Painting and sculpture

Australia has had a significant school of painting since the early days of European settlement, and Australians with international reputations include Sir Sidney Nolan, Sir Russell Drysdale, Arthur Boyd, Brett Whiteley, Ian Burn, Pro Hart, and Emily Kame Kngwarreye.


Australia has a long history of film production. The world's first feature-length film was the Australian production The Story of the Kelly Gang. However, the purchase of virtually all cinemas by U.S. distribution companies saw an almost total disappearance of Australian films from the screens. A notable exception was Charles Chauvel's classic Jedda (1955). During the late 1960s and 1970s an influx of government funding saw the development of a new generation of directors and actors telling distinctively Australian stories. Films such as Picnic at Hanging Rock and Sunday Too Far Away had an immediate international impact. The 1980s is regarded as perhaps a golden age of Australian cinema, with many very successful films, from the dark science fiction of Mad Max to the comedy of Crocodile Dundee, a film that defined Australia in the eyes of many foreigners despite having remarkably little to do with the lifestyle of most Australians.

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, The Cars that Ate Paris and Picnic at Hanging Rock in the 70s, Razorback and Shame in the 80s, and Japanese Story, The Proposition and the world-renown Wolf Creek in the 21st century. These films depict the Australian bush and its creatures as deadly, and its people as outcasts and psychopaths. These are combined with futuristic post-apocalyptic themes in the Mad Max series.

The 1990s saw a run of successful comedies such as Muriel's Wedding, The Castle and Strictly Ballroom, which helped launch the careers of Toni Collette, P. J. Hogan, Eric Bana and Baz Luhrmann. The indigenous film industry continues to produce a reasonable number of films each year; also, many U.S. producers have moved productions to Australia following the decision by Fox head Rupert Murdoch to utilise new studios in Melbourne and Sydney where filming could be completed well below U.S. costs. Notable productions include The Matrix, Star Wars episodes II and III, and Australia starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.


Indigenous Australian music

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. Some notable examples include Archie Roach, the Warumpi Band, NoKTuRNL and Yothu Yindi.

Amongst young Australian aborigines, African-American and Aboriginal hip hop music and clothing is popular.[2] 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.[3]

Classical music

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 1800s.[4]

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.[4]

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. 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).[4]

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[4]. In recent times composers including Liza Lim, Nigel Westlake, Graeme Koehne, Elena Kats-Chernin, Richard Mills and Constantine Koukias 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 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; and conductors Sir Bernard Heinze, Sir Charles Mackerras, Simone Young and Geoffrey Simon.

Pop and rock

Australia has produced a large variety of popular music. Some notable examples include the 1960s successes of The Easybeats and the folk-pop group The Seekers, through the heavy rock of AC/DC, Cold Chisel and the slick pop of INXS, Men at Work and Kylie Minogue, Natalie Imbruglia, Savage Garden and Silverchair. Bands such as Jet, Wolfmother, Eskimo Joe, Grinspoon, The Vines, The Living End, Short Stack, Pendulum and others are currently enjoying success internationally. Solo artist Delta Goodrem from Sydney is currently enjoying success worldwide.

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.

The national expansion of ABC youth radio station Triple J during the 1990s has increased the visibility 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 Short Stack, You Am I, Grinspoon, Powderfinger and Jet.

Television and media

There have been many Australian television shows that have been successful, such as 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.

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, and Foxtel, Australia's largest pay TV provider[citation needed], owned by News Corporation, Publishing and Broadcasting Limited and Telstra.

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 it has broadcast commercials of recent years, to less than universal approval.

In the 1990s and 2000s, 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.[5].

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 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 claim that Australian children view television programs imported largely from the USA, however, the Australian Content Standard[6] requires all free-to-air commercial networks to broadcast an annual minimum of 55% Australian content (between 6 a.m. and midnight).

Clothing and apparel

Australia has no official designated national dress. However, two examples of Australian local dress are bushwear and surfwear.[7] Major examples of clothing brands associated with bushwear are Akubra and R.M. Williams whilst surfwear labels including Billabong and Rip Curl are sold and recognised around the world. Recent examples of Australian 'national dress' being promoted on a world stage were at the 2007 APEC Summit in Sydney and the 2009 Pacific Islands Forum in Cairns. At both conferences the gathered leaders were clothed in Drizabone and R.M. Williams respectively.[8][9]

Other iconic Australian clothing and apparel labels include Blundstone Footwear, Bonds, Country Road, Driza-Bone, Mambo and Quiksilver.

Vegemite on toast.


Australian food traditions have been influenced by those that have settled in Australia. There are a few foods which can be considered uniquely Australian. Macadamia nuts are an Australian food that have become popular worldwide, and more recently kangaroo meat has become more mainstream. Local beers and wines are popular and internationally renowned. Vegemite is a well-known spread originating from Australia. It is not popular among immigrants,[10] but is exported to many foreign countries. Iconic Australian desserts include pavlova and lamingtons.


Australian rules football at the MCG
The opening match of the 2003 Rugby World Cup at Telstra Stadium.

Australians are passionate about sport and it forms a major part of the country's culture, particularly in terms of spectating, but also in terms of participation. Cricket is popular in the summer and football codes are popular in the winter, with different codes being more popular in different areas (see Barassi Line). Some strong Australian traditions, such as Grand Finals and Footy tipping are shared across all codes. Most of Australia's patriotism is expressed through sport and thus it is taken quite seriously, especially seen during major international events such as the Olympic Games.

Australian rules football

Australian rules football (usually called "Aussie rules", "AFL" or "footy") is a popular spectator sport and a participation sport in all Australian states and territories. The national competition, the Australian Football League, evolved from a Victorian state competition and has expanded to 16 teams from all states except Tasmania. The AFL Grand Final is traditionally played each year at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Australian rules football culture has a strong set of rituals and traditions, many of which have crossed sporting boundaries in Australia. Traditional variations such as kick-to-kick are important aspects of the sporting culture, as is vocal support for a team, known as barracking.


Cricket is the national sport of Australia and has long been so[citation needed]. Figures from the game's past like Sir Donald Bradman, Richie Benaud and Dennis Lillee are some of the most popular figures in the nation's history.

Internationally, Australia has for most of the last century sat at or near the top of the cricketing world. The Ashes competition between Australia and England is the most popular international sporting contest in Australia.

Rugby league

Rugby league is the most popular winter sport in New South Wales, Queensland and arguably in the Australian Capital Territory. The National Rugby League (NRL) grew out of a suburban league in Sydney and has expanded to include teams from across Eastern Australia and New Zealand. The other states have traditionally ignored Rugby League for their own brand of football. New South Wales and Queensland play a representative series against each other every year, called the State of Origin series, which is one of Australia's major sporting events. In addition, the Australian Kangaroos represent the country in international matches.

Rugby union

Rugby union is also one of the most popular sports within Australia, especially in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, with teams competing in the Super 14, alongside provincial South African and New Zealand sides. In 2003 Australia hosted the 2003 Rugby World Cup, which saw the Wallabies defeated by England in the final at Telstra Stadium. The Australian national rugby team, the Wallabies, are the most supported national team in the Australian winter sporting calendar[citation needed]. Having been a professional sport only since 1995, the game's following is slowly growing out of traditional areas.

Football (soccer)

Football (soccer) is Australia's highest participation sport in the country with both boys and girls at junior level as well with men and women at senior level. Until recently, the most prominent football (soccer) clubs were based around ethnic groups, mostly European. However, the national league was completely reformed in 2004, and the first season of the A-League began in September 2005. Several major names now play in the A-League, such as Robbie Fowler. The newly franchised teams have been able to translate good sponsorship at the national level into development of the game and junior participation has boomed.

The Australian national football team as of 2009 has competed at two FIFA World Cups, and will be heading to their third in South Africa in 2010. The Australian Government is seeking to host the event, the world's most watched sporting event, in either 2018 or 2022. In order to seek a higher level of competition, the Australian national team moved from the Oceania Football Confederation to the Asian Football Confederation in 2006, a much stronger confederation which has guaranteed places in the World Cup, thereby avoiding a history missed opportunities in forced playoffs.

Other sports

Australia also has its own unique motor racing organisation, known as the V8 Supercars Touring Series. It has a considerable following in New Zealand, and is steadily growing in popularity across the world, where television coverage allows.

Australians partake in and excel in many other sports, such as swimming, tennis, netball, golf, basketball and motorsport. Since the 1970s, gambling has become socially acceptable, and many Australians are drawn to horse racing and greyhound racing from a young age.

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 recently been quite successful in the Tour de France and other international cycling competitions, notably Cadel Evans' second placings in the 2007 Tour de France and again the following year. From 2008, Australia's only major international cycling race, the Tour Down Under, centred around Adelaide, will become 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 quite some decades.

As with most nations, women's sport is given less attention than men's, in both media coverage and funding, although the gap is closing slowly, with netball's ANZ Championship being advertised on popular sports channels.

Australia has recently seen success in the sport of surfing. In 2007, both the male (Mick Fanning) and female (Stephanie Gilmore) ASP champions were Australian.

In recent years there has been a trickle of professionals playing at the top level of American 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 been very successful at the Olympics, and are regular medal winners. Australians such as Luc Longley and Andrew Bogut have had long careers in the NBA. Australian women have made an even bigger impact in the WNBA, with Lauren Jackson captaining the Seattle Storm. The skill set of Australian Rules footballers fits the mould of NFL punters very well, and 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. Even though the popularity of the American sports is still very limited in their home country, Australians are always keen to support their sporting stars.

Attitudes, beliefs and stereotypes

Australians have very strong attitudes and beliefs which are reinforced by the tenets of the country's society.

The Australian national character has been forged by the difficulty of subduing the land. Unlike other cultures based on a nurturing landscape that they seek to protect from others, Australian settlers experienced great hardship and had to support each other in order to survive. The battle against the elements led to the nickname of a member of Australia's working class being the 'Aussie battler'.

The need to laugh in the face of danger while battling the landscape has provoked a strange view of the world, with a distinctive upside-down sense of humour. Times of hardship or even disaster are ridiculed, and this extends to the Australian delight in dubbing a tall man "Shorty," a quiet one "Rowdy," a bald man "Curly" and a redhead "Bluey".[citation needed]


"Mateship", or loyal fraternity, has been a central tenet of survival in the harsh landscape. Mateship can be defined as the code of conduct, particularly between men, although more recently also between men and women, stressing equality and friendship. Mateship is seen as an important element of the qualities that the Australian Defence Force values in its troops. The glorification of Australia's early soldiers in the Boer War and World War I reinforces these values. This may also explain why sport plays such a central role in Australian culture.

An aspect of the mateship culture on language is that Australians have a propensity for the diminutive forms of names (e.g. Hargrave -> Hargie; Wilkinson -> Wilko; John -> Johnno; David-> Davo; Hogan -> Hoges; James -> Jimmy -> Jim). This is a display of affection and acceptance rather than belittlement.

One result of the prevalence of the 'mateship' culture is that Australian society is stringently anti-hierarchical.[citation needed] Australians are expected to behave with humility and not think of themselves as better than their peers. Any disloyalty to their 'mates' is treated harshly, and is known as the tall poppy syndrome, where people who grow greater than their peers are harshly criticised as being 'up themselves'. Even the most successful and beautiful Australians are eager to proclaim how ordinary they are. This egalitarian social system makes Australian society appear 'laid-back', meaning relaxed to visitors. Most forms of address are by first name or nickname, and only children regularly use titles such as 'Mister' or 'Sir' for authority figures. Indeed, Australians will often call their Prime Minister by his first name when not in official settings.[citation needed]

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[11].

The phrase, "the lucky country", coined by Donald Horne, is a sobriquet used to describe Australia in terms of weather, lifestyle and history.[12] Ironically, Horne was using the term to criticise the complacency of Australian society in the early-1960s.[12] The phrase has become somewhat dated, and is used far less over the last 20–30 years, partly because the perceived quality of life has declined for many, but also because Australia's prosperity is seen more as the result of the high productivity of the Australian workforce rather than simple luck.


Australian stories and legends have a cultural significance quite 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 current regional security missions, such as East Timor; and 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.

It is generally agreed that the beginning of modern Australian warfare began at Gallipoli in World War I, where Australian forces under British command suffered a catastrophic defeat. The Australian experience at Gallipoli, 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 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 and entrenched at battles on the Western Front, such as the Battle of Passchendaele.

The legend of Australians being great soldiers has its roots in the AIF being used during the latter part of the war as the shock troops of the British Empire forces. The Battle of Amiens, known as the "Black Day of the German Army" during the First World War, was a campaign in which Australian soldiers played a crucial role. Australians were considered to be remarkably determined, united and hard-working individuals. Many Australians knew how to ride and shoot prior to enlistment, making them talented recruits. However, Australians also had a lax attitude towards formal parade ground discipline, a notoriety which the Australian soldiers revelled in. From this the notion of the larrikin Digger emerged, an important part of contemporary Australian identity.

Conversely Australian discipline in the field has been one of the qualities that does make the Australian soldier one of the best in the world. This reflects the Australian culture where in a harsh climate form must follow function. Discipline for the sake of discipline is not respected, but the discipline required to complete a task successfully are self imposed and well adhered to.

Poetry and song

Many of Australia's stories and legends originate in the outback, in the drovers and squatters and people of the barren, dusty plains. International bawdy classics such as Eskimo Nell and Charlotte the Harlot can be heard at male gatherings around the country.[13]

Only a small proportion of Australians live in the outback, or even in the milder countryside up to an hour or two's drive from major cities. This was true even of the Australia a century ago; since the gold rush of the 1850s, most Australians have been city-bound, and Australia today being among the most urbanised countries in the world. Nevertheless, after a century or more spent absorbing the bush yarns of Henry Lawson and the poetry of Banjo Paterson from the comfort of armchairs in the suburbs, the legends are real and fairly odd.


Friendly rivalry

Australians and New Zealanders have a rivalry, especially in certain sports such as rugby union. The rivalry is often compared to brothers in the same family competing against each other. During the first World War the Australian and New Zealand soldiers joined forces to become the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs).

The biggest sporting rivalry exists between Australia and England. Australians often perceive New Zealanders as "little brothers" because of their smaller population and economy. The sporting paddock has always been a place where Australians could shine even against far bigger countries, often with great success[citation needed].

The Australian dream

The Australian dream of home ownership underpins suburban Australia.[citation needed] However, this has been challenged by the low affordability of housing in Australia.[citation needed]

"Underdog" identity

As well as the prevalence of the tall poppy syndrome bringing back to Earth the high fliers, there is the traditional Australian support for the "underdog". Australians will support those who appear to be at a disadvantage unless the underdog is against fellow Australians.[citation needed]

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. 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, where the Georgian Rugby Team arrived in Perth with a crowd of Perth residents welcoming them with colourful support, and support for Eric the Eel during the 2000 Olympics. A similar occurrence was noted in Townsville, Queensland where the Japanese Rugby Team was preferred to that of the French [14].

A "fair go"

The belief in a "fair go" is a key part of Australian culture and Australian society, related to the support for the underdog.[15] This can be seen in the existence of strong public health and education systems in Australia, and equal opportunity legislation to ensure people are not excluded from jobs or positions by their race or gender.[citation needed] It is an idea which involves everyone having an equal chance to achieve their goals.

Cultural cringe

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.

Further reading

  • Bambrick, Susan ed. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Australia (1994)
  • Bennett, Bruce et al. The Oxford Literary History of Australia (1999)
  • Bennett, Tony, and David Carter. Culture in Australia: Policies, Publics and Programs (2001) excerpt and text search
  • Carey, Hilary. Believing in Australia: A Cultural History of Religions (1996)
  • Horton, David. The Encyclopedia of Aboriginal Australia: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History, Society and Culture (2001)
  • Huggan Graham. Postcolonialism, Racism, Transnationalism (Oxford Studies in Postcolonial Literatures) (2007) excerpt and text search
  • Kleinert, Sylvia. and Margo Neale. The Oxford Companion to Aboriginal Art and Culture (2001)
  • Leitner, Gerhard. Australia's Many Voices: Australian English—the National Language (2004) excerpt and text search
  • McAllister, Ian, Steve Dowrick, Riaz Hassan; The Cambridge Handbook of the Social Sciences in Australia Cambridge University Press, 2003 online edition
  • McCulloch, Alan. Encyclopedia of Australian Art 2 vol (1984)
  • McDonald, John. Federation: Australian Art and Society, 1901-2001. Natl. Gallery of Australia, 2002. 264 pp.
  • Nile, Richard. The Making of the Australian Literary Imagination. (2002). 315 pp.
  • O'Shane, Pat et al. Australia: The Complete Encyclopedia (2001)
  • Rickard, John, Australia: A Cultural History (1988)
  • Serle. Percival, ed. Dictionary of Australian Biography (1949)online edition
  • Webby, Elizabeth. The Cambridge Companion to Australian Literature (2000) excerpt and text search
  • Wilde, William H. et al. eds. The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature (1995) online at OUP excerpt and text search
  • Samuels, Selina, ed. Australian Writers, 1915-50. (2002). 510 pp.
  • Sayers, Andrew. Australian Art (2001) excerpt and text search
  • Webby, Elizabeth, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Australian Literature (2006)
  • Wannan, Bill. A Dictionary of Australian Folklore: Lore, Legends, Myths and Traditions (1988)


External links


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