Making a Nation

How did writers portray Australian identity?

Henry Lawson

Henry Lawson was born on the Grenfell Goldfields in New South Wales on 17 June 1867. He grew up with his family in a poor section of the Mudgee district.

Lawson suffered from deafness.

Henry moved to Sydney in 1883 with his mother, Louisa. It was there that Louisa began publishing the feminist newspaper The Dawn.

Henry married Bertha Bredt in 1896, and they had two children, but it was not a happy relationship and they separated in 1903. Henry spent periods of time in institutions for his alcoholism, and periods of time in gaol for failing to support his family.


He died on 2 September, 1922, in Sydney. At his funeral, crowds lined the streets to farewell Australia's 'poet of the people'.


Lawson's photo was placed on the ten dollar note in

A Bush Girl

She's milking in the rain and dark,

As did her mother in the past.
The wretched shed of poles and bark,
Rent by the wind, is leaking fast.
She sees the “home-roof” black and low,
Where, balefully, the hut-fire gleams—
And, like her mother, long ago,
She has her dreams; she has her dreams.
The daybreak haunts the dreary scene,
The brooding ridge, the blue-grey bush,
The “yard” where all her years have been,
Is ankle-deep in dung and slush;
She shivers as the hour drags on,
Her threadbare dress of sackcloth seems—
But, like her mother, years agone,
She has her dreams; she has her dreams.

The sullen “breakfast” where they cut
The blackened “junk.” The lowering face,
As though a crime were in the hut,
As though a curse was on the place;
The muttered question and reply,
The tread that shakes the rotting beams,
The nagging mother, thin and dry—
God help the girl! She has her dreams.

Then for “th’ separator” start,
Most wretched hour in all her life,
With “horse” and harness, dress and cart,
No Chinaman would give his “wife”;
Her heart is sick for light and love,
Her face is often fair and sweet,
And her intelligence above
The minds of all she’s like to meet.

She reads, by slush-lamp light, may be,
When she has dragged her dreary round,
And dreams of cities by the sea
(Where butter’s up, so much the pound),
Of different men from those she knows,
Of shining tides and broad, bright streams;
Of theatres and city shows,
And her release! She has her dreams.

Could I gain her a little rest,
A little light, if but for one,
I think that it would be the best
Of any good I may have done.
But, after all, the paths we go
Are not so glorious as they seem,
And—if t’will help her heart to know—
I’ve had my dream. ’Twas but a dream.



Analyzation on A Bush Girl

In the poem Lawson describes the sad scene of the girl milking the cow, in an old shed by herself. And he tells us that this is going to be her life forever, as it was her mothers. The author almost sympathises for the girl, if only she had time to rest, time when she was warm. The poem tells us of how strong the people living in Australia must be to survive

A.B. (Banjo) Patterson

Andrew Barton (A.B) Paterson was born on the 17th February 1864 in

Narambla, New South Wales.


At sixteen, Paterson worked as an articled clerk in a solicitor's office.

In 1885 Paterson came to submit his first verses.

Paterson adopted the pen name of "The Banjo" after a so-called racehorse his family had owned.

In January 1895, Andrew and his fiancee, Sarah Riley, visited the

Dagworth Homestead, a station in western Queensland.

The station was owned by the family of Christina Macpherson.

While at the station, Christina played a tune called the “Craigeelee” on an autoharp

which inspired Andrew to write the words to Waltzing Matilda.

During the Boer War (1880-1902), he worked as a war correspondent for the Sydney

Morning Herald and the Melbourne Argus.

Andrew Barton Paterson died on Wednesday, 5th February 1941. At age 77.

A.B. (Banjo) Paterson" The Man from Snowy River" Poem animation

Exerts from the Man from Snowy River. (stanzas eight to ten)

Then fast the horsemen followed, where the gorges deep and black

Resounded to the thunder of their tread,

And the stockwhips woke the echoes, and they fiercely answered back

From cliffs and crags that beetled overhead.

And upward, ever upward, the wild horses held their way,

Where mountain ash and kurrajong grew wide;

And the old man muttered fiercely, "We may bid the mob good day,

No man can hold them down the other side."


When they reached the mountain's summit, even Clancy took a pull,

It well might make the boldest hold their breath,

The wild hop scrub grew thickly,

and the hidden ground was full Of wombat holes, and any slip was death.

But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head,

And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer,

And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,

While the others stood and watched in very fear.


He sent the flint stones flying, but the pony kept his feet,

He cleared the fallen timber in his stride,

And the man from Snowy River never shifted in his seat -

It was grand to see that mountain horseman ride.

Through the stringybarks and saplings, on the rough and broken ground,

Down the hillside at a racing pace he went;

And he never drew the bridle till he landed safe and sound,

At the bottom of that terrible descent.


He was right among the horses as they climbed the further hill,

And the watchers on the mountain standing mute,

Saw him ply the stockwhip fiercely, he was right among them still,

As he raced across the clearing in pursuit.

Then they lost him for a moment, where two mountain gullies met

In the ranges, but a final glimpse reveals

On a dim and distant hillside the wild horses racing yet,

With the man from Snowy River at their heels.


Analysation of the Man from Snowy River

Patterson depicts the Australian bushland as a terribly dangerous one. The way he talks about the gullies tells us about the harshness of the land. He describes the men in the first stanza in great detail, telling us of the great and brave things that they had all done. This adds to the feeling of the poem, showing that the horse getting away means a great deal, and that only the best of the best could finish the job.


Marcus Clarke

He was born in London 24th April 1846 and died on the 2nd of August in 1881. He immigrated to Australia in 1863 after his father died. First, he worked in a bank in Melbourne and then on a sheep station in Wimmera. He returned to Melbourne and worked as a journalist. One of his most famous works is “For The Term Of His Natural Life.”


“For The Term Of His Natural Life” tells the story of a convict transported to Australia for a murder he was wrongly accused of. Marcus Clarke based his novel on research and his visit to the penal settlement in Port Arthur, Tasmania.


Marcus Clarke depicted the hardships and difficulties faced by the convicts sent to Australia through his novel “For The Term Of His Natural Life.” "For The Term Of His Natural Life" is a very important work because it helps us understand what life was like for the first convicts sent to Australia.


“Take care what you say! I'll have no hard words. Wretch! If I am a wretch, who made me one? If I hate you and myself and the world, who made me hate it? I was born free - as free as you are. Why should I be sent to herd with beasts, and condemned to this slavery, worse than death? Tell me that, Maurice Frere - tell me that!”


“...he was so horribly unhuman, that one shuddered to think that tender women and fair children must, of necessity, confess to fellowship of kind with such a monster.”

For The Term Of His Natural Life - Trailer

Mary Hannay Foott

Mary Hannay Foott was born in Glasgow on the 26th of September 1846 and died in 1918. Her mother was Margaret nee Grant and her father was James Black. Her father decided to move the family to Melbourne in 1853 where they lived in Mordialloc. She attended Miss Harper’s private school and afterwards, the Model School where she was a teacher-trainee. Mary married a stock inspector at Bourke where she lived until 1877. Her husband died on the 2nd February 1884. After he husband died she took her two sons to Toowoomba. Later, she moved to Rocklea, in Brisbane. In 1886 she ran a small school and became the editor of a women’s magazine page in "The Queenslander." By this time she had written the majority of her poems.


Here are two of her poems:


In the Land of Dreams.


A bridle-path in the tangled mallee,

With blossoms unnamed and unknown bespread,-

And two who ride through leafy alley,-

But never the sound of a horse’s tread.

And one by one whilst the foremost rider

Puts back the boughs which have grown apace,-

And side by side where the track is wider,-

Together they come to the olden place.

To the leaf-dyed pool whence the mallards fluttered,

Or ever the horses had paused to drink;

Where the word was said and the vow was uttered

That brighten for ever its weedy brink.

And Memory closes her sad recital,-

In Fate’s cold eyes there are kindly gleams,-

While for one brief moment of blest requital,-

The parted have met,-in the Land of Dreams.


The Future Of Australia

Sing us the Land of the Southern Sea,-

The land we have called our own;

Tell us what harvest there shall be

From the seed we have sown.

We love the legend of the olden days,

The songs of the wind and the wave;

And border ballads and minstrel lays,

And the poems Shakespeare gave,-

The fireside carols and battle rhymes,

And romaunt of the knightly ring;

And chant with hint of cathedral chimes,-

Of him “made blind to sing.”

The tears they tell of our brethren wept,-

Their praise is our fathers’ fame;

They sing of the seas our naives swept,-

Of the shrines that lent us flame.

But the Past is past,-with all its pride,-

And its ways are not our ways.

We watch the flow of a fresher tide

And the dawn of newer days.

Sing us the Isle of the Southern Sea,-

The land we have called our own;

Tell us what harvest there shall be

From the seeds we have sown.

I see the Child we are tending now

To a queenly stature grown;

The jewels of the empire on her brow,

And the purple round her thrown.

She feeds her household plenteously

From the granaries we have filled;

Her vintage is gathered in glee

From the fields our toil has tilled.

The Old World’s outcast starvelings feast,-

Ungrudged,-on her corn and wine;

The gleaners are welcome, from west to east,

Where her autumn sickles shine.

She clothes her people in silk and wool,-

Whose warp and whose woof we spun;

And sons and daughters are hers to rule;

And of slaves,-she has not one!

There are herds of hers on a thousand hills!

There are fleecy flocks untold!

No foreign conquest her coffer fills,-

She has streams whose sands are gold!

She sha;; not scramble for falling crowns,-

No theft her soul shall soil,-

So rich in rivers, so dowered with downs,-

She shall have no need of spoil!

But if,-wronged or menaced,-she shall stand

Where the battle-surges swell,-

Be a sword from Heaven in her swarthly hand

Like the sword of La Pucelle!

If there be ever so base a foe

As to speak of a time-cleansed stain,-

To say, “She was cradled long ago,

‘Mid clank of the convict’s chain.”

Ask,-as the taunt in his teeth is hurled,-

“What lineage sprang SHE from

Who was Empress, once, of the Pagan World

And the Queen of Christendom?”

When the toilsome years of her youth are o’er,

And her children round her throng;

They shall learn from her of the sage’s lore,

And her lips shall teach them song.

Then of those in the dust who dwell,

May there kindly mention be,

When the birds that build in the branches tell

Of the planting tree.


In her poems Mary talks about the land of Australia being unknown and the hope that comes from people migrating to Australia. Her poems talk about live of the station where she observed the challenges that the country created such as drought missing your home country and also the opportunity to start a new life. It is quite remarkable that after Mary’s husbands’ death being a woman, Mary was able to independently support her family and to write her poems. Mary must have been a very strong woman.

Summary of our findings

Overall, we have decided that the authors that depicted Australia described it as a harsh land, where only the toughest of people would survive.