The Search for Identity 1788-1900 [convict legacy, the bush legend, Larrikins, the bulletin, H. Lawson, A. B. Paterson]

Essay by GethzerionUniversity, Bachelor'sD+, April 2006

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By the late nineteenth century, nationalism in Australia was on the rise. The idea of the nation emerged with the means for its realization. By the 1880s native- born Australians had begun to outnumber the immigrants, and the momentum for a full- born Australian nationalism increased. Three-quarters of the population had been born in Australia and the camaraderie and defiance of the diggers on the goldfields became a huge source of national pride, just as it did with their namesakes in World War I. Their egalitarianism, mateship, and disdain for authority were to become central to the national character.

Convictism in Australia describes the convicts who were transported to the various Australian colonies in the late eighteenth and nineteenth century. One of the primary reasons for the British settlement of Australia was the establishment of a penal colony to remove pressure from their overburdened correctional facilities. The last convicts to be transported to Australia arrived in Western Australia in 1868.

Australia's history as a penal colony is imprinted vividly on the minds of most Australians even today. The lasting effects of the long dead practice are still felt in some areas of life. Many Australians can accurately trace their lineage back to colonial times, and most cases being related to one of the original convicts invokes a sense of national pride. It should be remembered that these convicts were, for the most part, not violent criminals, but rather petty thieves and the like. This attitude is, however, a relatively new phenomenon in Australia. Until after the Second World War most Australians felt a sense of shame about their convict status, and many did not even attempt to investigate their families' origins for fear that they could be descended from criminals. This is known as the Convict Stain attitude. British and...