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Bright Eyes, Brown Skin (A Feeling Good Book) (A Feeling by Cheryl Willis Hudson

By Cheryl Willis Hudson

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Unemployment went as high as 28 percent in 1931 and there was hardly a family that was not affected. Farmers were forced off their land, city dwellers were evicted from their homes and often took to the road in search of subsistence, and shanty towns grew up, with police constantly moving vagrants on. Although economic recovery slowly began to rise, unemployment remained high and the country had still not recovered completely by the time war was declared in 1939. W ORLD W AR II AND B EYOND Australia’s closeness to England finally began to weaken, only through the possibility of direct attack on Australia itself, something it had never experienced.

The Eureka Stockade was one, with Irish Catholics such as Peter Lalor prominent in opposing what they saw as oppressive and discriminating laws. Australia’s outlaws from the anonymous Wild Colonial Boy to Ned Kelly were mostly of Irish origin and attracted many sympathizers among the poorer people in the areas in which they lived. However, there is some suggestion that, at least later and mainly in the Outback, Australian bushmen were more united in their opposition to squatters and police than they were divided by religious belief.

B. (“Banjo”) Paterson (1864–1941) was sickened by the mass shootings of civilians and burning down of their houses. A decade after Federation it was clear that war was likely and that Australia had too few soldiers. In 1911 cadet training was made compulsory for boys and in 1912 a militia was formed and thousands of young men were virtually forced to join. When war finally did break out, however, young Australian men, some below the legal age, some married with children, rushed to enlist. Family and cultural ties aside, Australia was indissolubly attached to England, economically and militarily, and anything that would reinforce those ties was seen favorably.

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