Descriptive Essay on Australian Cultural Identity

This essay sample was donated by a student to help the academic community. Papers provided by EduBirdie writers usually outdo students' samples.

Cite this essay cite-image

Australian cultural identity is the notion that all people within Australia share the same beliefs and values surrounding a single culture. It includes the history of our nation as well as the beliefs and virtues which shape the nation's character, as perceived from a global point of view. However cultural identity is inherently flawed as it suggests that we all share the same perspective on the way in which our society as a whole should act. John Kinsella’s anthology, The Silo invites the contemporary reader to view Australia in new ways and in doing so challenges our current beliefs about our nation. Kinsella is often regarded as following the tradition of the romantics which he demonstrates in his activist conservation methods and his beliefs about the natural landscape. The silo also makes reference to Beethoven's pastoral symphony which is also regarded as having romantic themes. Through Kinsella’s revaluation of our national identity through the themes which are explored within the Silo, Kinsella readdresses these aspects of society and nature and presents them to the reader in new and controversial ways. In doing so Kinsella is able to contest the idea of national identity and the ways it has been constructed by a British hegemony and patriarchal forefathers. The presumption that Australia has its own cultural identity is contested since the white Australia policies demolition in 1973-74, our identity as a nation is formed on the belief that our nation is made up of a diverse range of races and cultural identities and therefore does not have one singular identity.

Australia is a relatively new country being formed on the 1st of January 1901 on which day the British Parliament passed legislation allowing the six Australian colonies to govern each state as a joint entity as part of the Commonwealth of Australia. As a result of this our cultural identity has never had a chance to form. As a nation, we lack the traditions that many nations have, such as customs, traditional dress, and cuisine. Cultural identity can be defined as a process involving a cognitive appraisal, which results from self-awareness achieved either through the collective experience within a group, or the perceptions of an individual as we compare ourselves to a reference group, generally English as our ‘mother country, despite the efforts of the settlers to eradicate British traditions in Australia.

Save your time!
We can take care of your essay
  • Proper editing and formatting
  • Free revision, title page, and bibliography
  • Flexible prices and money-back guarantee
Place Order

Kinsella endorses the notion that we as a nation lack a clear identity through his criticism of farming practices in Australia. when Kinsella criticizes the values that farming has helped shape our nation, such as in his poem Hydraulics, Flywheel, saw and PTO it is controversial as it criticizes one of the major factors that has shaped, what is generally considered our national identity, agriculture, and farming. The use of sibilance in the first stanza of Hydraulics constructs the machine as snake-like as it hisses regressively, only to ‘bite at the malee roots as their “flesh [is] deep-bitten and [they] screech like a wounded galah.” Kinsella employs the auditory image of the screeching galah to symbolize the native wildlife and natural landscape of Australia, and address the negative impacts that our so-called national identity of agriculture has on the natural landscape of the country. In this poem, he reveals the destruction that agriculture has on the environment of Australia through the clearing of the land, removal of forest/trees, for the keeping of livestock, and alternatively could also reference the motif of over-reaping the land, a common theme throughout much of his oeuvre. The poem also arouses the notion that many of the aspects mentioned in The silo are unfamiliar to a contemporary audience and enforces the idea that we lack traditions, a major aspect of our cultural identity. Previous to researching the machinery in the title I was unsure what a flywheel and PTO were, and although a male reader may understand this more clearly I was not familiar with them as a result of my cultural identity.

Kinsella suggests that the impact of colonization and European farming practices have created a sense of loss and discomfort which permeates through contemporary Australian society and that we as a population are somewhat out of place. This is revealed through the silo’s appearance as “incongruous amongst the new machinery”. The gothic nature of the work and Kinsella's manipulation of language as well as the dense text and varied prosody evokes a mood of uncertainty and fear around the old silo, reminiscent of Australia's fear of tradition, having revoked many of our British traditions when the convicts were sent to colonize Australia. Through the use of gothic imagery and language choices the ideas presented in the silo position the reader to notice how farmers are imprisoned by guilt and anxiety as a result of their destruction of Australia’s rural landscape in the descriptions of the farmer's hand which “Describ[ed] a prison from which neither/could hope for parole, petition, release.” the quote suggests that the farmers have built themselves a prison however this idea also relates back to the convicts who ‘conquered’ the Australian landscape and converted it into farming land through Eurocentric farming practices. An uncanny mood throughout the poem presents an uncertain secret regarding the history of the silo, while also causing the reader to reflect upon, how machinery has enabled mass destruction by Australia’s initial settlers. This poem suggests that there is an uneasy secret at the heart of modern Australia: something that we tacitly agree not to acknowledge because we believe it to be shameful in some way. This idea is reinforced by the visual imagery of the “Thin sprays of baby’s breath [which] grew around its [the silo’s] foundations, while wedding bouquet sprouted bizarrely from the grey mat of thatching.” These flowers positioned at the foundations and on top of the silo act as a shroud that obscures and conceals the shameful Eurocentric policies such as the white Australia policy and farming practices represented by the Silo, whereas the use of wedding symbols suggest a tradition/ceremony, as well as the perpetuity of the destruction of farming practices, misuse of the silo which had “been the way for as far back as could be remembered.”

Through analysis of Kinsella's anthology, the silo, and my context of cultural identity as an Australian-born reader, it is evident that Kinsella, whilst deconstructing the notion of Australian cultural identity in its patriarchal and Eurocentric form, reconstructs it in ways which contemporary readers can acknowledge and understand. Kinsella addresses that cultural identity is inherently flawed as it suggests that we all share the same perspective on the way in which our society as a whole should act, through his romantic and activist values as an individual. It is through poems such as Hydraulics and The silo that Kinsella provided deeper meaning on the subject of cultural identities, such as his beliefs that traditional European farming practices have a negative effect on the environment, and in doing so he criticizes an aspect of what Australians consider to be an aspect of our national identity. Although controversial this estrangement of the viewer towards traditional farming practices, allows Kinsella to evoke a mindset of change and the creation of new views and ideas about Australian cultural identity.

Make sure you submit a unique essay

Our writers will provide you with an essay sample written from scratch: any topic, any deadline, any instructions.

Cite this paper

Descriptive Essay on Australian Cultural Identity. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from
“Descriptive Essay on Australian Cultural Identity.” Edubirdie, 27 Dec. 2022,
Descriptive Essay on Australian Cultural Identity. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Apr. 2024].
Descriptive Essay on Australian Cultural Identity [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 27 [cited 2024 Apr 20]. Available from:

Join our 150k of happy users

  • Get original paper written according to your instructions
  • Save time for what matters most
Place an order

Fair Use Policy

EduBirdie considers academic integrity to be the essential part of the learning process and does not support any violation of the academic standards. Should you have any questions regarding our Fair Use Policy or become aware of any violations, please do not hesitate to contact us via

Check it out!
search Stuck on your essay?

We are here 24/7 to write your paper in as fast as 3 hours.