Jacaranda : the tree Australians like to claim as their own

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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. This thesis contains 3rd party copyright material. ----- The jacaranda tree is intriguingly interwoven with Australian cultural identity to the extent that many erroneously assume it to be a local while three eastern Australian cities almost compete for the most historical emblematic relationship with it. This thesis explores a range of factors that account not only for individuals and communities attachment to this tree but to the construction of the ‘Australianness’ and/or ‘localness’ of the jacaranda. Examining traditional archival material as well as historical and contemporary ‘re-tellings’ of the jacaranda affinity in various media, I inquire into the construction of the cultural narrative of this tree as ‘ours’. This construction took place in several phases, tracing to the early white settler context, the influence of late nineteenth century global beautification movements, the influence of ideologies of progress and local patriotism in the early-mid twentieth centuries before a plethora of cultural ‘tellings’ appear in numerous contexts including newspapers, the visual and creative arts, festivals, events, planning policies and decisions and, more recently, modern social media. These tellings have thickened the narrative with a life – and ‘truth’ – of its own. The jacaranda’s particular qualities of colour and contrast, shading and shape may also explain why this tree has been readily recruited into such localised narratives. This thesis focuses on Brisbane, Sydney and Grafton as the most obvious example of where the tree has been so repeatedly and nostalgically constructed and promoted as our own.
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