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Australias National Identity Between the introduction of gold licenses in 1851 and Federation in 1901, Australias national identity

was dramatically shaped. As soon as the controversial gold licenses were introduced, the Australian identity begun to form, bringing forth many characteristics. These characteristics made up the typical Australian. Mateship is the one of biggest parts of the Australian identity, along with characteristics also exposed by the gold rushes such as hardworking, and the outdoors type. Then there were other, not so much events, but lifestyles that exposed characteristics. The farmers and the bushrangers tended to bond amongst their groups and exposed such characteristics as anti-authority, egalitarianism and practicality. This shaped Australias national identity with the help of the growth of native born citizens and the rise of nationalism. Without these key events and lifestyles, Australian would not be what it is today. Throughout the gold rushes in Victoria and New South Wales, many key aspects of the Australian identity were formed. The most obvious characteristic was mateship. With the introduction of gold licenses in 1851 infuriating the diggers, they tended to join together to try to conquer the corrupt police force. They would grow very close and would always watch each others backs. When the Chinese diggers came over, the Australian diggers formed groups and ganged up on these new citizens of Australia as they did not like the concept of foreigners coming into their country and stealing their gold. This is how mateship was formed amongst the miners. This wasnt the only characteristic that the gold rushes exposed. Because of the harsh conditions in which the diggers worked in to make their fortune, they grew to be known as the outdoors and hardworking type, which is exactly what they were. The diggers would work through all conditions, just to make their fortune. Because of the police being so harsh when it came to the gold licenses, the diggers begun to turn against the police in violent ways. They did not like the authorities, brining forth the Australian characteristic, anti-authority. To show the police who was boss, they considered each other as equals and as one so they could get back at the police. This showed just how egalitarian the Australian identity was and still is. The gold rushes were one of the main platforms of which the Australian identity was built upon. After the gold rushes, farmers and bushrangers became more common, and their lifestyles inflicted on the Australian national identity. The farmers worst enemy, the bushrangers, were a major threat to their farming life and success. To stop these bandits, they had to work as a group, and to beat the farmers, the bushrangers had to do the same. By becoming mates they could take each other by pure force. This concreted mateship in Australias national identity. Obviously, the bushrangers worked outdoors, and worked hard to stop their rivals; each other. This reinforced two of the key characteristics the diggers in the gold rushes had, being the hardworking and outdoors type. One characteristic that the bushrangers had was one which got them into a lot of trouble with the government and the police. They were extremely anti-authority. With all the bushrangers have the same goal of getting back at someone or getting rich, and all the farmers having the same goal of stopping these bushrangers, the farmers and bushrangers grew to like people of their own kind, and grew to be very egalitarian. This created a yet another building block for the Australian national identity. The farmers and bushrangers of after the gold rush grew to become the typical Australian and yet added more cement to concrete Australias national identity.

William Harmer, 9PWI, Pg 1 of 2

With more and more people being born in Australia, and only knowing one way of living, the Australian way, the Australian national identity became something that everyone was a part of, as they were born into it. With Australia having a lot of farming land, a lot of the 3rd, 4th and even 5th generation Australians grew up on farms, and didnt know anything different. They were forced into becoming the outdoors type, a part of the Australian national identity. Also, many of these new children of Australia had only limited people to communicate with as they were in remote areas. This forced them to become mates with a lot of these other children to keep themselves amused. This just reinforced one of the main parts of the Australian national identity, mateship. Because everyone in such remote areas became mates, and that there was no strict government in those areas, many people grew to become egalitarian. This and mateship put the final layer of cement onto the already concreted Australian national identity. Between the introduction of gold licenses in 1851 and federation in 1901, the Australian national identity was shaped for the future. Many characteristics were reinforced by events and lifestyles that the Australian citizens endured. The most important and most distinctive of these characteristics, mateship was seen throughout the introduction of gold licenses, the times of farming and the bush rangers and the Australian born citizens. This wasnt the only part of Australias national identity that was seen throughout these events and lifestyles. The outdoors and hard working types were seen in many of these events and lifestyles, as well as the characteristics of egalitarian and anti-authority. The Australian national identity was shaped greatly from the introduction of gold licenses in 1851 through to federation in 1901.

William Harmer, 9PWI, Pg 2 of 2

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