Gallipoli: The defining moment in Australian National Identity Essay

Gallipoli: The defining moment in Australian National Identity Essay

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Australia is a relatively young country; only becoming a unified nation in 1901 (Commonwealth of Australia, 2012). A young country is no different from a young person; identity is an issue. Questions of who am I and where do I fit in the world are asked, and unfortunately not often answered until a tragedy occurs. National identity is a sense of a nation and its people as a connected whole. This feeling of cohesiveness can be shaped by many events in a nation’s history but none more so than war. War is a stressful, traumatic affair that changes forever, not only the people that go to it but the nation as a whole. Many consider the Great War Australia’s tragedy where we became a nation (Bollard, 2013) with our own modern identity.
Of course it is naïve to believe that Australians only developed an identity after the First World War, but it is true to say that it was changed forever. Before Australia became the Australia known today, it was a land of bush rangers, farmers and convicts; a penal colony that had ambitions of becoming a nation who self-governed and had unified defence and transport*. Before federation Australia had fought in Sudan and the Boer War to provide support to the mother country as it was thought to be a heroic endeavour that was a type of rite of passage (Australian War Memorial, n.d.) and there was a global perception of who and what Australians were. Upon federation the people were very consciously intent on building themselves into a great nation (Bean, 1993), but not to sever ties to Britain completely as mostly foreign policy relied on what the British government dictated (Rickard, 1992).
When the Great War began, Australia went to war as a nation which not only held its own but was invaluable to many ...

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Austin, R. (2005). Gallipoli encyclopedia. Rosebud: Slouch Hat Publications
Bean, C. E. W. (1993) Anzac to Amiens. Ringwood: Penguin Books Australia Ltd.
Bean, C. E. W. (2010). The ANZAC book (3rd ed.). Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.
Bollard, R. (2013). In the shadow of Gallipoli the hidden history of Australia in World War I. [EBL]. Retrieved from
Department of Veterans’ Affairs (n.d.). Lance Corporal Albert Jacka. Retrieved from
MacDermott, D. (1993). As we see you. In D. Grant & G. Seal (Eds.), Australia in the world (pp. 86-91). Perth: Black Swan Press
Rickard, J. (1992). Australia: a cultural history. New York: Longman Inc.
Seal, G. ( 2007). ANZAC: The scared in the secular. Journal of Australian Studies, 31(91), 135-144. doi: 10.1080/14443050709388135

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