Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Creative Arts


In the late nineteenth century, literary narratives and visual representations of the Australian bush played a major role in the historical process through which Australia was becoming conceptualised as a nation. This thesis examines features of these representations—the role of the journey, the portrayal of women's labour, the role of the swagman and of madness, the representation of motherhood, mateship and marriage, the scope and role of the imagination, and narratives of community—in there historical context. Using this analysis the thesis shows how the process of national cultural imagination was in part shaped by the experience at the time of both modernisation in public and domestic life, and change and contestation in the gender order.

Bush mythology frequently employed the notion of the masculine journey as an image of nation formation. The journey was used to represent a quest for nationhood which was to be achieved through the domestication of the land in the name of 'Australia'. The end of the journey—frequently figured as the return to the interior space of the home—was associated with the achievement of maturity on the part of both the traveler and the nation. Whilst men might embark on such journeys, female maturity was usually represented as a move into the home. This move, which appeared to take women out of the nation-space, testifies to the difficulty at the time of bringing men and women together into an imagined Australian national community.

02Chap1.pdf (2738 kB)
03Chap2.pdf (2530 kB)
04Chap3.pdf (2490 kB)
05Chap4.pdf (2012 kB)
06Chap5.pdf (1513 kB)
07Chap6.pdf (2651 kB)
08Chap7.pdf (1777 kB)
09Chap8.pdf (1403 kB)
10Chap9.pdf (1665 kB)
11Chap10.pdf (1600 kB)
12Chap11.pdf (658 kB)
13List.Biblio.pdf (793 kB)



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.