Bushman or Boer – Australian Identity in a ‘White Man’s War’, 1899–1902

  • Tandee Wang Australian National University, Australia
  • Thomas J Rogers Australian War Memorial, Australia


This article considers Australian articulations of identity and representations of Boer soldiers in the South African War. Examining accounts from Australian war correspondents and military personnel, we make three observations. First, that widespread expressions of British Empire loyalty shaped rather than excluded expressions of nascent Australian nationalism. Second, that emergent Australian nationalism, particularly the notion of the ‘bushman’, was central to positive and negative comparisons to Boer soldiers. Finally, that transnational discourses of settler colonialism and whiteness enabled such comparisons, which simultaneously facilitated claims about Australian martial superiority and deceptive Boer indolence, despite noted similarities between bushman and Boer.