Judges’ comments: In 2018 the judges decided to reward two entries and thus there are two joint winners. Ulf emphasises the proclivity of British people to create thriving societies in harsh and hostile environments.
Australia: a British Legacy, a British Jewel, by Ulf (Victoria)
In 1606 the Dutch ship Duyfken was the first recorded landing of Europeans on the Australian continent and island. This event would change the course of the continent’s history. Although Willem Janszoon, the captain of the Duyfken, only explored Western Australia, it would lead the way for the most important event in Australian history, the landing of the British in Sydney some 170 years later. This event which would shape the very destiny of Australia, born from the hardest of necessities and injustices in the British Isles, would result in a Nation-state unlike any other. Australia, although inhabited by Aborigines for supposedly anywhere between 40 thousand and 80 thousand years, had produced no homogeneous, unified, or productive societies. It wasn’t until James Cook landed in what is now known as Botany Bay in 1770 on the ship Endeavour that the fate of the Great Australian nation and people would begin to form. In this essay I will discuss the positive impacts of British culture on Australia and Australians.
The course of this nation would have been significantly different if the Dutch had decided to colonise this land mass. Instead, dissuaded by the harsh and unforgiving landscape that presented them in Western Australia, they decided it was too difficult and therefore not worth the trouble. However, given that the British empire was in desperate need for space for its overflowing prisons – and the inability for Great Britain to send their convicts to the Americas due to the American War of Independence – there was no other British option than the Great Island in the south. The combination of necessity and British stoicism led to the establishment of a colony in Australia. That same stoicism would shape the very psyche of Australians.
The tenacity that we are known for is a product of the British disposition. The Australian temperament, although moulded by the environment, is indistinguishable from that of the British. It is this same temperament that has allowed the first British Australians to survive and even flourish in such a harsh environment as Australia. This is evident in the historical record. Faced with the long journey home, and lacking even a basic appreciation for opportunity, the Dutch decided to leave. The British saw the harsh landscape, knew it would be difficult, but persevered with tenacity and stoicism and seized on the potential opportunity and risk of settling Australia. The result is that Australia became a nation known the world around for not only its natural beauty but its thriving and high-function society.
The British – among other things such as innovation and technological excellence – are civilisation builders. The British empire at its height was one of the largest empires the world has known. But its military might wasn’t the truly amazing element of this great empire. It was its ability to engineer societies in places that previously had either no society or merely primitive civilisations. This notion is more important than is initially realised until analysed further. The idea that a people predisposed to building thriving societies in harsh environments, when some are not is an indicator of the type of values and morals that a people are made of. Not only morals, but the very fabric of their genetics.
Why are the British diaspora spread around the world and responsible for creating stable, productive societies while others are not? It is a question of genetics. The British pursuit for innovation is a result of their biological make up.
Australians cannot be removed from this, as we share the same genetics. Our culture, customs, food, language are all products of our genetic attachment to the British peoples. Our desire to strive through adversity as much as the above listed elements is linked to this common ancestry: a shared blood which In turn influences our perceptions, our goals, values and ethics and inevitably the outcome that we desire for our people.
The Great Australian nation could not have been if it were not for a Great Empire, the British Empire. But the Empire existed because a people acted with the same purpose towards a common goal. A product of this shared commonality, of which blood plays a pivotal role, is Australia. Through inconceivable hardship our pioneers endured and persisted and built what is arguably one of the most successful societies today, all of which only took 200 years to produce. This feat is a testament to those people, their values, their mentality and their ancestry; an ancestry I belong to, a nation I call home. That nation is Australia; that nation is the sum achievement of my people; that is a British legacy, a British jewel.
© Ulf, 2018