The Bulletin," in the ’eighties and ’nineties, provided a rallying point for Australian literary nationalism. J. F. Archibald gathered under his banner a representative collection of rebels against imported culture, and began to encourage the local articles.

The Lone Hand was and illustrated monthly, based on London's Strand magazine. Created by Bulletin founder J.F. Archibald, it was responsible for promoting Australian writers and writing. Archibald used to say that what Australia needed most was a Minister for Red Umbrellas - meaning someone representative of the gaiety and colour of national life - and as political reform seemed remote he offered the 'Lone Hand' as a substitute.

In Praise of Gaiety and Colour


courtesy of Roe Gartelmann

Roe Gartelmann works from her studio in the hills above Willunga, and is available for demonstrations, classes, workshops & commissions. Her works cover a wide range of subjects and media, from realistic to contempory, making studio visits worthwhile. Learn more about her technique and how she works at Magpie Studio.

A Bush Larrikin


courtesy of John Murray

Along with the kangaroo the emu makes up the Australian coat of arms. Because of their sheer mass emus can't fly, but have you ever seen an emu run? The massive strength in their legs allows them to move over all types of terrain with the greatest of ease, yet their bodies remain virtually motionless, their legs taking the majority of the terrain's impact.

The Emu is a fast runner and can reach speeds of up to 40 mph for short bursts. A running bird can make a stride of nine feet. The Emu has been resident in Australia at least 80 million years.

Emus are nomadic, and can travel up to 500km in less than nine months. They are very nosy, and will swallow all kinds of strange things like keys, nails and bottle tops.

Emus are fussy eaters, and will starve rather than eat old leaves or grass. They prefer seeds, nuts, shoots, insects and small rodents or lizards.

Emus live in small groups, except during the breeding season, when they are more solitary. Groups occasionally join together to form herds of up to a thousand.

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Red Umbrella Day

J.F. Archibald used to say that what Australia needed most was a Minister for Red Umbrellas - meaning someone representative of the gaiety and colour of national life

The Bulletin," in the nineteen ’eighties and ’nineties, provided a rallying point for Australian literary nationalism. J. F. Archibald gathered under his banner a representative collection of rebels against imported culture, and began to encourage the local article.

Viewed in historical retrospect, it is very probable that Archibald’s Bulletin has had a dubious effect on Australian literature, and on culture in Australia. It has presented a larrikin view of Australian life. It has made the larrikin idea paramount, as in an earlier phase convictism was paramount. The larrikin and the convict are not representative citizens, though they are dramatic citizens.

The Bulletin was rude, it was slangy, it was smart, it was naughty (in a ’ninetyish way), it was vigorous and robust, it was, in a larrikin or urchin sense, "Australian," and it had a tremendous effect.

Archibald’s cult was the terse. Make it short! Make it snappy, make it crisp, boil it down to a paragraph! Such was Archibald’s advice to writers. As a result, The Bulletin and "Bulletinese" (which is a clipped kind of slangy jargon), diverted Australian literature into the channels of dialect, and laid on local colour, not with a brush, but with a trowel.

The word "larrikin" is said to be of Irish origin; it conveys the same meaning as "playboy," in J. M. Synge’s drama, The Playboy of the Western World. Archibald was the larrikin, or the Irish playboy of the Australian world. The Bulletin was a lark played by a literary larrikin. The BuIlet-een (as it used to be called) thumbed its nose at England and at respectability. It was irreverent and cheeky, as "quick on the uptake" as any street urchin, smart and pert and vulgar, and rude. Because it proclaimed itself pro-Australian it attracted Australian native genius towards itself. And because Archibald himself was a journalist and a literary larrikin of genius, Australian literature and culture became cast, for a time, at a formative time, in The Bulleteen’s mould.

One of the biggest elements in The Bulletin’s success was its pictures. Archibald imported to Australia the first half-tone process engraving plant. It can be imagined what this meant, as all newspaper illustrations before this event had been by the slow method of hand-engraving on steel or wood. It meant that The Bulletin could "say it with pictures"—its jokes, its gags, its political cartoons became world-famous. Hopkins, Phil May, Norman Lindsay, D. H. Souter, and, later, David Low, were redoubtable caricaturists, cartoonists, joke-illustrators—a whole school of Bulletin black-and-white artists was evolved, the best of its kind in the world.

What an instrument of power to ridicule, satirise, and give cheek was placed in Archibald’s hands! Besides using the new method of zinc-block pictures, he could cast his net all over Australia and the Pacific Islands, to draw in literary men of genius and talent such as Louis Becke, Price Warung, E. J. Brady, Randolph Bedford, Henry Lawson, Banjo Paterson, Steele Rudd—and ten thousand paragraphists and poets from every shearing-shed, drovers’ camp, and human outpost in the continent. Thus, an indigenous Australian literature was brought to growth—and trained in flippancy, vulgarity, smartness, terseness, and irreverence; taught to express itself in a slick vernacular, an idiom presumed by the editors of The Bulletin to be typically Australian, which was no more typically Australian than the argot of Paris urchins is typically French.

extract from The Foundations Of Culture In Australia: An Essay Towards National Self-Respect. Part One. P.R. Stephensen

Red Umbrella Day Activities


I love you too Augustine

Have fun with words. Train yourself in flippancy, vulgarity, smartness, terseness, and irreverence;

1. Have fun with words. Let Archibald train you in flippancy, vulgarity, smartness, terseness, and irreverence. Learn about some unique Australian bush larrikins (wildlife) and work on producing a quirky yarn that reflects the joy of these characters.

2. The "Dionysian Mystery": Was most sensual, with intoxication by wine, convulsive dancing, hallucinations, ... a divine madness!. Dionysus was the Greek god of wine and ecstatic experience, as well as vegetation, death and rebirth. Learn about Dionysian joy and leisure. Personally I have a lot of time for Dionysus who, legend hath it, rescued Ariadne after she was deserted by Theseus. Welcome Dionysious into your world and have a chat to him about how to increase the amount of joy in your world.

3. Learn more about the olde time carnival characters and make a carnival outfit and mask. Alternatively try dressing a mannequin in carnival costume and express the shadowy sides of your personality.

4. Just for a giggle, make sure to check out these Sinister Santa'a that I found via Boynton.

Marking Red Umbrella Day

Festive Time by Joshua Parkinson
A Few Poems by Vivienne Bibby
Narooma Nonsense by Heather Blakey
Importance of Red Umbrella Day by Lois Daley
Smile Away The Blue by Megan Warren