The 'plein air' painters, 1880s–1890s
The painters of the Heidelberg School – the likes of Tom Roberts, Frederick McCubbin Charles Condor, Hans Heysen and Arthur Streeton - were the first Australian painters to attempt to capture a 'momentary effect' in the Australian landscape with a 'general impression of colour'. They were seen to capture the light, colour and mood of the Australian bush. Along with the bush poets and writers, they formed a clear expression of Australian identity.
The story of children lost in the bush has had a long tradition in written and illustrated form. For example, McCubbin's painting Lost in 1886 was created after twelve-year-old Clara Crosbie was lost in the bush near Lilydale in 1885, but found alive three weeks later.
Poets and novelists such as Banjo Paterson, Miles Franklin, EJ Brady and Barbara Baynton, among others, were inspired by the experiences of Australians living and working in the bush. Henry Lawson believed that an Australian identity must emanate from its own soil, not from the safe green fields of the mother country, Britain. He was not alone in this view.
Bush songs devised by ordinary, everyday people are a record of the people's experiences of living, surviving and dying in the bush, as well as the colourful slang of bush life. The most famous of these bush ballads is Waltzing Matilda , Australia's unofficial national song about a swagman shearer. Many songs and lyrics, written down for private use, were later assembled and published by A B (Banjo) Paterson as Old Bush Songs(1905). Bush music was handed down as part of an oral tradition, similar to folk music.