The Great Australian Literature Quiz

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The Great Australian Literature Quiz - Quiz

This quiz has been created for the release of the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature - an abridged version was used for our competition to win a special limited collector's edition of the Anthology.
Some of the best, most significant writing produced in Australia over more than two centuries is gathered in this landmark anthology. Covering all genres - from fiction, poetry and drama to diaries, letters, essays and speeches - the anthology maps the development of one of the great literatures in English in all its energy and variety.
This quiz consists of 30 questions on a range Read moreof subjects within Australian literature.


Questions and Answers
  • 1. 

    In Doris Pilkington's 1996 book Follow the Rabbit-proof Fence, she details her mother & aunt's experience of escaping from a government institution. Doris herself was to later spend many years in the same notorious place. What was its name?

    • A.

      Moore River Native Settlement

    • B.

      Ebenezer Mission

    • C.

      Doomadgee Aboriginal Mission

    • D.

      Wellington Valley Mission

    Correct Answer
    A. Moore River Native Settlement
    Explanation
    The correct answer is Moore River Native Settlement. In Doris Pilkington's book, she describes her mother and aunt's escape from this government institution. Doris herself also spent many years in the same place. This suggests that Moore River Native Settlement is the name of the notorious institution mentioned in the question.

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  • 2. 

    Helen Garner's first novel was published in 1977, became a cult hit, and is still in print today. What is its title?

    • A.

      Simian Boogie

    • B.

      The Monkey's Mask

    • C.

      Orang-utan Cup

    • D.

      Monkey Grip

    Correct Answer
    D. Monkey Grip
    Explanation
    Helen Garner's first novel, "Monkey Grip," was published in 1977 and quickly gained a cult following. It has remained popular and is still in print today.

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  • 3. 

    In the pages of which long-lived publication, notable for its support of early Australian literature, did Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson conduct their feud?

    • A.

      Melbourne Punch

    • B.

      The Bulletin

    • C.

      Meanjin

    • D.

      Southerly

    Correct Answer
    B. The Bulletin
    Explanation
    Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson conducted their feud in The Bulletin, a long-lived publication known for its support of early Australian literature.

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  • 4. 

    Peter Carey's first novel Bliss was published in 1981. His first collection of short stories, published seven years earlier, was title The __________ Man in History

    • A.

      Rich

    • B.

      Ignorant

    • C.

      Fat

    • D.

      Super

    Correct Answer
    C. Fat
    Explanation
    Peter Carey's first collection of short stories, published seven years earlier than his first novel Bliss, was titled The Fat Man in History.

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  • 5. 

    Which founding member of the Australian Society of Authors was co-author of the controversial novel Come in Spinner, published in 1951?

    • A.

      Dymphna Cusack

    • B.

      Jill Hellyer

    • C.

      Dal Stivens

    • D.

      Walter Stone

    Correct Answer
    A. Dymphna Cusack
    Explanation
    Dymphna Cusack is the correct answer because she was a founding member of the Australian Society of Authors and co-authored the controversial novel Come in Spinner, which was published in 1951.

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  • 6. 

    The 1908 essay collection The Confessions of a Beachcomber immortalised the environment and lifestyle of which Great Barrier Reef island?

    • A.

      Hamilton Island

    • B.

      Lizard Island

    • C.

      Dunk Island

    • D.

      Green Island

    Correct Answer
    C. Dunk Island
    Explanation
    The correct answer is Dunk Island. The 1908 essay collection, "The Confessions of a Beachcomber," is known for immortalizing the environment and lifestyle of Dunk Island. The book provides insights into the island's unique beauty and the experiences of a beachcomber living there.

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  • 7. 

    Frank Hardy's novel Power without Glory (originally self-published) became notorious for sparking a 9-month criminal libel trial. In what year was this momentous trial held?

    • A.

      1945

    • B.

      1987

    • C.

      2001

    • D.

      1951

    Correct Answer
    D. 1951
    Explanation
    In 1951, Frank Hardy's novel Power without Glory, which was originally self-published, sparked a 9-month criminal libel trial. This trial gained notoriety due to the controversial nature of the novel and the legal implications it raised. The specific details of the trial and its outcome are not provided in the question.

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  • 8. 

    Which Australian playwright was catapulted to fame following the success of his 1971 work Don's Party?

    • A.

      Louis Nowra

    • B.

      Stephen Sewell

    • C.

      David Williamson

    • D.

      Michael Gow

    Correct Answer
    C. David Williamson
    Explanation
    David Williamson is the correct answer because he gained widespread recognition and success after the release of his play "Don's Party" in 1971. This play became a significant milestone in Australian theatre and established Williamson as a prominent playwright. The success of "Don's Party" propelled his career forward, leading him to create numerous other successful works and solidifying his reputation as one of Australia's most influential playwrights.

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  • 9. 

    What was the title of the collection of poems purportedly penned by the now infamously fictitious Ern Malley?

    • A.

      The Darkening Ecliptic

    • B.

      The Widening Gyre

    • C.

      Robber of Dead Men's Dreams

    • D.

      The Black Swan of Trespass

    Correct Answer
    A. The Darkening Ecliptic
    Explanation
    The correct answer is "The Darkening Ecliptic." This title refers to the collection of poems that were supposedly written by Ern Malley, a fictitious poet created as a hoax by Australian poets James McAuley and Harold Stewart in 1944. The Darkening Ecliptic is the name of the collection that was published and gained attention before it was revealed to be a literary fabrication.

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  • 10. 

    What is the opening line of Joseph Furphy's Such is Life?

    • A.

      I was educated by the Bible and Shakespeare.

    • B.

      The day of carousal was past and the day of work had begun.

    • C.

      Nature has planted in me a vast fund of cheery optimism.

    • D.

      Unemployed at last!

    Correct Answer
    D. Unemployed at last!
    Explanation
    The opening line of Joseph Furphy's Such is Life is "Unemployed at last!". This line sets the tone for the novel and introduces the main character's situation of being unemployed. It implies a sense of relief or freedom from the burden of work, which suggests that the story may revolve around the character's experiences and reflections during this period of unemployment.

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  • 11. 

    The central character in Rolf Boldrewood's Robbery Under Arms was based on which real-life bushranger of the 1850s?

    • A.

      Captain Starlight

    • B.

      Henry Readford

    • C.

      Captain Thunderbolt

    • D.

      Ben Hall

    Correct Answer
    B. Henry Readford
    Explanation
    The correct answer is Henry Readford. Rolf Boldrewood's novel "Robbery Under Arms" is based on the life of the real-life bushranger Henry Readford. The central character in the book is also named Henry Readford, who becomes involved in a life of crime and robbery in the Australian bush. The novel portrays the adventures and exploits of this character, drawing inspiration from the real-life activities of Henry Readford during the 1850s.

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  • 12. 

    What is the name of the family home in Seven Little Australians that provided a hint about the behaviour of its occupants?

    • A.

      Venturesome

    • B.

      Misrule

    • C.

      Ornery

    • D.

      Wayward

    Correct Answer
    B. Misrule
    Explanation
    In the book "Seven Little Australians," the name of the family home, Misrule, suggests that the behavior of its occupants is unruly and disorderly. The word "misrule" implies a lack of discipline and order, indicating that the family members living in Misrule might exhibit rebellious or unconventional behavior. The name of the house provides a hint about the chaotic and unpredictable nature of the family's actions and interactions within the story.

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  • 13. 

    Which semi-autobiographical novel begins with the lines "My dear fellow Australians, just a few lines to tell you that this story is all about myself - for no other purpose do I write it"?

    • A.

      Miles Franklin's "My Brilliant Career"

    • B.

      David Malouf's "Johnno"

    • C.

      Peter Kocan's "Fresh Fields"

    • D.

      Christina Stead's "For Love Alone"

    Correct Answer
    A. Miles Franklin's "My Brilliant Career"
    Explanation
    The correct answer is Miles Franklin's "My Brilliant Career". This novel is semi-autobiographical and begins with the lines "My dear fellow Australians, just a few lines to tell you that this story is all about myself - for no other purpose do I write it". The protagonist of the novel, Sybylla Melvyn, shares many similarities with the author, Miles Franklin, and the story explores themes of gender roles, independence, and the pursuit of a creative career.

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  • 14. 

    What do the five bells referred to in Kenneth Slessor's poem of the same name refer to?

    • A.

      The name of a public house

    • B.

      A call to church

    • C.

      The chime of a ship's clock

    • D.

      A warning of danger

    Correct Answer
    C. The chime of a ship's clock
    Explanation
    In Kenneth Slessor's poem "Five Bells," the five bells referred to symbolize the chime of a ship's clock. The poem is an elegy dedicated to the artist Joe Lynch, who drowned in Sydney Harbor. The bells represent the passing of time and the cyclical nature of life, as well as the connection between life and death. The ship's clock chimes serve as a reminder of mortality and the transient nature of existence, adding a melancholic tone to the poem.

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  • 15. 

    Which of the following descriptions of Australia is not expressed in Dorothea Mackellar's iconic poem My Country?

    • A.

      Land of sweeping plains

    • B.

      Endless, roaming land

    • C.

      Land of the rainbow gold

    • D.

      Wilful, lavish land

    Correct Answer
    B. Endless, roaming land
    Explanation
    The correct answer is "Endless, roaming land." This description is not expressed in Dorothea Mackellar's iconic poem, "My Country." The poem mentions Australia as the "land of sweeping plains," the "land of the rainbow gold," and a "wilful, lavish land." However, it does not mention Australia as an "endless, roaming land."

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  • 16. 

    The narrative journey undertaken in Patrick White's Voss is based on which ill-fated historical expedition?

    • A.

      Leichhardt's search for an overland route from Sydney to Darwin

    • B.

      Burke & Wills' crossing of the continent from south to north

    • C.

      Eyre's coastal expedition across Southern Australia

    • D.

      Hovell & Hume's discovery of Mount Disappointment

    Correct Answer
    A. Leichhardt's search for an overland route from Sydney to Darwin
    Explanation
    The correct answer is Leichhardt's search for an overland route from Sydney to Darwin. This is the ill-fated historical expedition that forms the basis of the narrative journey in Patrick White's Voss. The novel follows the character of Johann Ulrich Voss, who embarks on a similar expedition in the Australian outback, mirroring Leichhardt's real-life journey. Through Voss's experiences, the novel explores themes of exploration, isolation, and the clash between European settlers and the indigenous population.

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  • 17. 

    The song 'From little things big things grow' by musicians Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly recounts which historic event?

    • A.

      The 1868 tour of an all Aboriginal cricket team to England

    • B.

      The 1966 Wave Hill Walk-off led by Vincent Lingiari

    • C.

      The 1788 resistance led by Pemulwuy to the raising of the Union Jack

    • D.

      The 1965 'freedom rides' led by Charles Perkins

    Correct Answer
    B. The 1966 Wave Hill Walk-off led by Vincent Lingiari
    Explanation
    The song 'From little things big things grow' by musicians Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly recounts the 1966 Wave Hill Walk-off led by Vincent Lingiari.

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  • 18. 

    Which trenchant social critic coined the term 'the lucky country'?

    • A.

      Ernest Henry Burgmann

    • B.

      Philip Adams

    • C.

      Eva Cox

    • D.

      Donald Horne

    Correct Answer
    D. Donald Horne
    Explanation
    Donald Horne is the correct answer because he coined the term 'the lucky country'. This term refers to Australia and was used by Horne in his book titled 'The Lucky Country', which was published in 1964. In the book, Horne criticized Australia's complacency and highlighted the country's reliance on natural resources rather than innovation and hard work. The term has since become widely used to describe Australia's perceived good fortune and lack of ambition.

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  • 19. 

    Alex Miller's The Ancestor Game took the historical novel to new frontiers with its portraits of Australia and which other country?

    • A.

      United Kingdom

    • B.

      United States

    • C.

      China

    • D.

      India

    Correct Answer
    C. China
    Explanation
    The correct answer is China. In Alex Miller's The Ancestor Game, the author explores new frontiers of the historical novel by portraying Australia and China. The novel delves into the rich cultural and historical connections between these two countries, providing readers with a unique perspective on Australian history.

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  • 20. 

    What does Geoff Page describe as "seen each day, noticed once a year" in the poem that became the title for his 1975 collection of poetry?

    • A.

      Christ's love

    • B.

      War memorials

    • C.

      Aging

    • D.

      Memories

    Correct Answer
    B. War memorials
    Explanation
    In his poem, Geoff Page describes war memorials as something that is seen each day but noticed only once a year. This suggests that war memorials are often overlooked or taken for granted in our daily lives, but they hold great significance and are given special attention on occasions such as Remembrance Day. By choosing this phrase as the title for his collection of poetry, Page may be highlighting the importance of remembering and honoring those who have sacrificed their lives in war.

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  • 21. 

    William Yang's Sadness intersperses tales of his two 'families' documenting friends who died of AIDS with the story behind what event?

    • A.

      The racially motivated murder of his uncle

    • B.

      His parents' immigration to Australia

    • C.

      The discovery of his cultural heritage

    • D.

      The death of his beloved pet

    Correct Answer
    A. The racially motivated murder of his uncle
    Explanation
    In the given question, the correct answer is "The racially motivated murder of his uncle." The question states that William Yang's Sadness includes stories about his two 'families' and friends who died of AIDS. The question then asks about the event behind the story. The correct answer, the racially motivated murder of his uncle, aligns with the theme of the book and provides insight into one of the significant events in William Yang's life.

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  • 22. 

    Former Prime Minister Paul Keating in his speech The Ghost of the Swagman stated that the next best thing to rain in a drought was what?

    • A.

      Humour

    • B.

      Music

    • C.

      Patriotism

    • D.

      Dreams

    Correct Answer
    B. Music
    Explanation
    In his speech, Former Prime Minister Paul Keating stated that during a drought, the next best thing to rain is music. This suggests that music has the ability to uplift spirits and provide solace during difficult times. It can bring joy and a sense of relief, serving as a source of comfort and distraction from the hardships of a drought. Music has the power to evoke emotions and create a sense of unity, making it a valuable and powerful tool in times of struggle.

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  • 23. 

    What was the Aboriginal name later taken by the post-WWII poet who first published as Kath Walker?

    • A.

      Oodgeroo Noonaccul

    • B.

      Truganini

    • C.

      Raymattja Marika

    • D.

      Borrong

    Correct Answer
    A. Oodgeroo Noonaccul
    Explanation
    The Aboriginal poet who first published as Kath Walker later took the name Oodgeroo Noonaccul. This name change reflected her connection to her Indigenous heritage and her commitment to advocating for Aboriginal rights and culture. Oodgeroo Noonaccul was a prominent figure in the Australian literary scene, using her poetry to raise awareness about the struggles and experiences of Aboriginal people. She played a significant role in promoting reconciliation and understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

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  • 24. 

    The central character of Kate Grenville's Lilian's Story is based on which identity?

    • A.

      A 1920s cheerfully eccentric bag-lady

    • B.

      A 1920s screen actress

    • C.

      A 1950s member of the Sydney 'Push'

    • D.

      A 1910s understudy to Dame Nellie Melba

    Correct Answer
    A. A 1920s cheerfully eccentric bag-lady
    Explanation
    The central character of Kate Grenville's Lilian's Story is based on a 1920s cheerfully eccentric bag-lady.

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  • 25. 

    What is the setting that brings three families together to begin a process of healing in Michael Gow's play Away?

    • A.

      An injured child on a ski field

    • B.

      A New Years Eve party in a caravan park

    • C.

      A violent storm at the beach

    • D.

      A cancelled Christmas flight

    Correct Answer
    C. A violent storm at the beach
    Explanation
    In Michael Gow's play Away, a violent storm at the beach brings three families together to begin a process of healing. The storm serves as a catalyst for the characters to confront their own personal issues and find solace in each other's company. It forces them to seek shelter and support from one another, leading to the development of new friendships and the opportunity for emotional growth and healing. The storm acts as a metaphorical representation of the turmoil and challenges that the characters face in their own lives, ultimately bringing them closer together.

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  • 26. 

    Christopher Koch's novel The Year of Living Dangerously reflects his interest in Australians' engagement with Asia in which country?

    • A.

      India

    • B.

      Indonesia

    • C.

      Vietnam

    • D.

      Cambodia

    Correct Answer
    B. Indonesia
    Explanation
    The correct answer is Indonesia. Christopher Koch's novel, The Year of Living Dangerously, explores Australians' engagement with Asia, specifically in Indonesia. The story is set in Jakarta during the political turmoil of the mid-1960s, highlighting the complex relationship between Australians and Indonesians during that time.

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  • 27. 

    Shirley Hazzard's People in Glass Houses is a collection of linked stories satirising which organisation?

    • A.

      The United Nations

    • B.

      The Federal Government

    • C.

      ASIO

    • D.

      The International Olympic Committee

    Correct Answer
    A. The United Nations
    Explanation
    Shirley Hazzard's People in Glass Houses is a collection of linked stories that satirize the United Nations.

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  • 28. 

    The Rush That Never Ended by Geoffrey Blainey deals with which aspect of Australia's history?

    • A.

      Colonisation

    • B.

      Urbanisation

    • C.

      Immigration

    • D.

      Mining

    Correct Answer
    D. Mining
    Explanation
    "The Rush That Never Ended" by Geoffrey Blainey deals with the aspect of Australia's history related to mining. This book explores the significance and impact of mining in shaping Australia's development and economy. It delves into the gold rush era and the subsequent mining booms that have played a crucial role in the country's history. The author likely examines the social, economic, and environmental consequences of mining throughout different periods in Australia's past.

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  • 29. 

    What was the title of Sally Morgan's book which won the HREOC humanitarian award?

    • A.

      Sally's Story

    • B.

      In Your Dreams

    • C.

      My Place

    • D.

      Wanamurraganya

    Correct Answer
    C. My Place
    Explanation
    Sally Morgan's book, "My Place," won the HREOC humanitarian award.

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  • 30. 

    Playwright Louis Nowra has had a play in production every year since 1973. Which of the following of his works is not a play?

    • A.

      Albert Names Edward

    • B.

      Summer of the Aliens

    • C.

      Miss Bosnia

    • D.

      Kiss the One-Eyed Moon

    Correct Answer
    D. Kiss the One-Eyed Moon
    Explanation
    "Kiss the One-Eyed Moon" is not a play by Louis Nowra. The question asks for a work by Louis Nowra that is not a play, and "Kiss the One-Eyed Moon" does not fit this criteria.

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  • Current Version
  • Mar 21, 2023
    Quiz Edited by
    ProProfs Editorial Team
  • Oct 01, 2009
    Quiz Created by
    Allenandunwin
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