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The very fact that Australia was founded by convicts has had a great deal to do with the development of an Australian identity. Australians tend to really champion the "underdog", and this can be traced to its convict foundations.

Exploration of the continent between 1813 and the 1870s certainly shaped the development of Australia, with the opening up of new land for farming, agriculture and settlement. Explorers such as Lawson, Wentworth and Blaxland, Sturt, Stuart, Mitchell, Oxley, Cunningham, Leichhardt, Eyre all had pivotal parts to play in the shaping of Australian settlement.

In line with this, John McDougall's successful 1862 crossing of the continent from south to north - and back again - was a catalyst to Australia being joined in communication to the rest of the world. The British-Australian Telegraph Company laid a submarine cable from Java to Darwin, linking Darwin to the world. It remained only to connect Darwin to the rest of Australia. The Overland Telegraph Line was built in 1872, linking Darwin to Adelaide, and from there, to the rest of Australia. Australia now had a direct line to the world.

The goldrushes brought a variety of different cultural groups to Australia, all of whom had their own influence on the development of Australia's identity.

The Eureka Stockade of 1854 marked the beginning of democracy in Australia. This was when the gold miners at Ballarat rebelled against some unreasonable demands of the troopers and the authorities.

Australia's great shearers' strike in 1891 highlighted the need for a political party to represent the rights of the union workers, and led to the formation of the Australian Labor Party.

The influence of writers such as AB 'Banjo' Paterson and Henry Lawson gave Australia its own sense of identity. Paterson glorified the bush and life on the land, while Lawson emphasised how heartbreaking the outback life could be. Either way, they typified Australians as hardworking, tough and determined people.

Federation of the colonies in 1901 was a major event. All the colonies of Australia, including Tasmania, came together and federated under the Commonwealth of Australia.

World War I and the Gallipoli campaign were significant in shaping Australia's identity, and gave the country an emerging sense of wanting to "get out from under Britain's thumb". Billy Hughes's conscription issues divided the nation, with some wishing to retain ties to Britain and fight for the "mother country", while others felt it just wasn't Australia's war.

Naturally, Australia's involvement in each of the subsequent wars helped cement its relationships to and alliances with some countries, whilst also opening up Australians to the influence of other countries. The Japanese bombings of Darwin, Wyndham and Broome during World War II removed some of Australia's previous innocence, and that was totally blown away with the Korean and Vietnam wars.

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Q: What events helped shape Australia's identity?
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How did the 1950's shape Australia's identity?

While the British and American influence has played a major role in defining the shape of Australia that we know today, a number of other influences have contributed to the development of the Australian identity. As settlers in an unfamiliar land, the Australian identity was long bound to the stereotype of the tough, heroic bushman who fought to tame a difficult landscape. Australian values like 'mateship', 'fair go' and the 'Aussie battler' emerged as a result of this myth. Throughout the prosperous post-war years, however, a new Australian ideal emerged and Australians were thought to be part of a more laidback culture that enjoyed the 'good life'. As migrants moved to Australia over the decades, however, they introduced new stories, traditions and perspectives to Australian culture. The traditional concepts of an Australia as a British colony, or a land of struggling bush-dwellers, no longer seemed to fit with the diverse new reality of the society. As Indigenous peoples were finally acknowledged as the original owners of the land, the role of Indigenous values in the construction of a true Australian identity had also become apparent. As such, the Indigenous and migrant influence has intervened in the American and British effect on Australian culture. As Australian society adapted to changing cultural influences across the decades, whether they be British, American, Indigenous, Asian or European, the national identity continually evolved in response. In the face of globalisation, however, the future of Australia's unique national identity was increasingly challenged by the development of a global culture.

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