Manning Clark’s History of AustraliaGenius Of Australia
The Harp in the South
The Drover’s Wife
A Town Like Alice

The Australian Canon

The Great Works of Australian Literature and the Arts

A nation without a past is a nation without a future.

The great works of Australian culture are essential to understanding our past and our present; but they are increasingly being discarded and/or denigrated in our schools and our universities.

Genius is defined as “the prevailing character or spirit of Australia”.

By exploring the works in the Australian Canon developed here at the Centre for the Australian Way of Life, new generations of Australians can connect to the classic works that tell us who we are; which made us who we are.

This site provides essays, commentaries and Podcast episodes to help Australians make those connections, as they read, watch, view and listen to the great works in the Australian Canon.

Each canonical work will be analysed

Over time an introductory commentary will be provided on every work in the Canon.

Go to the Index, below, and you will see links highlighted wherever these posts have already been published.

The Genius of Australia Podcast

(coming soon)

  • Episode One: An Introduction to the Australian Canon

  • Episode Two: Patrick White’s Voss and David Marr’s biography

  • Episode Three: Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson

Read Commentaries on Individual Works (Indexed by Category)

Marcus Clarke, For the Term of His Natural Life, 1870
Henry Lawson, The Drover’s Wife, 1892
Ethel Turner, Seven Little Australians, 1894
Ethel Pedley, Dot and the Kangaroo, 1899
Miles Franklin, My Brilliant Career, 1901
Jeannie Gunn, We of the Never Never, 1908
Henry Handel Richardson, The Getting of Wisdom, 1910
Henry Handel Richardson, The Fortunes of Richard Mahony,
Vols. I‐III, 1917‐1930
Norman Lindsay, The Magic Pudding, 1918
Frederic Manning, The Middle Parts of Fortune, 1929
Ruth Park, The Harp in the South, 1948
Nevil Shute, A Town Like Alice, 1950
Patrick White, Voss, 1957
George Johnston, My Brother Jack, 1964
Thomas Keneally, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, 1972
David Malouf, Johnno, 1975
Xavier Herbert, Poor Fellow My Country, 1975
David Ireland, The Glass Canoe, 1976
Helen Garner, Monkey Grip, 1977
Robert Drewe, The Bodysurfers, 1983
Peter Carey, Oscar and Lucinda, 1988
Tim Winton, Cloudstreet, 1991
John Marsden, Tomorrow, When the War Began, 1993
Peter Temple, Bad Debts, 1996
Christos Tsiolkas, The Slap, 2008

Michael Powell, They’re A Weird Mob, 1966
Nicolas Roeg, Walkabout, 1971
Ted Kotcheff, Wake In Fright, 1971
David Williamson, Don’s Party, 1971
Peter Weir, Picnic at Hanging Rock, 1975
Colin Thiele, Storm Boy, 1976
George Miller, Mad Max, 1979
Gillian Armstrong, My Brilliant Career, 1979
Peter Weir, Gallipoli, 1981
Peter Faiman, Crocodile Dundee, 1986
P. J. Hogan, Muriel’s Wedding, 1994
Rob Sitch, The Castle, 1997
Kate Woods, Looking for Alibrandi, 2000
John Curran, Tracks, 2013
Bruce Beresford, Ladies in Black, 2018
Kriv Stenders, Danger Close: The Battle
of Long Tan
, 2019
Robert Connolly, The Dry, 2020

Caroline Carleton, The Song of Australia, 1859
Banjo Paterson, Clancy of the Overflow, 1889
Banjo Paterson, Waltzing Matilda, 1895
Dorothea Mackellar, My Country, 1904
A.D. Hope, Australia, 1938
Ken Slessor, Five Bells, 1939
Dame Mary Gilmore, No Foe Shall Gather Our Harvest, 1940
Oodgeroo Noonuccal, The Dispossessed, 1964
Les Murray, Noonday Axeman