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Australian literature has also been influenced by the landscape; the works of writers such as Banjo Paterson, Henry Lawson, and Dorothea Mackellar captured the experience of the Australian bush. The character of the nation's colonial past, as represented in early literature, is popular with modern Australians. In 1973, Patrick White was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first Australian to have achieved this. Australian winners of the Man Booker Prize have included Peter Carey and Thomas Keneally; David Williamson, David Malouf, and J. M. Coetzee, who recently became an Australian citizen, are also renowned writers, and Les Murray is regarded as "one of the leading poets of his generation".
Australian writers who have obtained international renown include the Nobel winning author Patrick White, as well as authors Peter Carey, Thomas Keneally, Colleen McCullough, Nevil Shute and Morris West.
Among the important authors of classic Australian works are the poets Henry Lawson, Banjo Paterson, C J Dennis and Dorothea McKellar. Significant political poets of the 20th century included Dame Mary Gilmore and Judith Wright. Among the best known contemporary poets are Les Murray and Bruce Dawe.
Novelists of classic Australian works include Marcus Clarke (For the Term of His Natural Life), Rolf Boldrewood (Robbery Under Arms), Miles Franklin (My Brilliant Career), Mary Durack (Kings in Grass Castles and Keep Him My Country) and Jeannie Gunn (We of the Never Never). Franklin, Durack and Gunn are notable for their accounts of Outback living from a female perspective. Ruth Park, author of The Harp in the South, contributed a number of iconic fictional works about urban living.
Although historically only a small proportion of Australia's population have lived outside the major cities, many of Australia's most distinctive stories and legends originate in the outback, in the drovers and squatters and people of the barren, dusty plains.
David Unaipon is known as the first indigenous author. Oodgeroo Noonuccal was the first Aboriginal Australian to publish a book of verse.
The Australian cinema industry began with the 1906 release of The Story of the Kelly Gang, which is regarded as being the world's first feature-length film; but both Australian feature film production and the distribution of British-made features declined dramatically after World War I as American studios and distributors monopolised the industry, and by the 1930s around 95 per cent of the feature films screened in Australia were produced in Hollywood. By the late 1950s feature film production in Australia had effectively ceased and there were no all-Australian feature films made in the decade between 1959 and 1969.
Thanks to initiatives by the Gorton and Whitlam federal governments, the New Wave of Australian cinema of the 1970s brought provocative and successful films, some exploring the nation's colonial past, such as Picnic at Hanging Rock and Breaker Morant, while the so-called "Ocker" genre produced several highly successful urban-based comedy features including The Adventures of Barry McKenzie and Alvin Purple. Later hits included Mad Max and Gallipoli. More recent successes included Shine and Rabbit-Proof Fence. Notable Australian actors include Judith Anderson, Errol Flynn, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Heath Ledger, Geoffrey Rush, and Cate Blanchett—current joint director of the Sydney Theatre Company.
Around 24 per cent Australians over the age of 15 regularly participate in organised sporting activities in Australia. Australia has strong international teams in cricket, field hockey, netball, rugby league, and rugby union, having been Olympic or world champions at least twice in each sport in the last 25 years for both men and women where applicable. Australia is also powerful in track cycling, rowing, and swimming, having consistently been in the top-five medal-winners at Olympic or World Championship level since 2000. Swimming is the strongest of these sports; Austr. is the second-most prolific medal winner in the sport in Olympic history.
Some of Australia's most internationally well-known and successful sportspeople are swimmers Dawn Fraser, Murray Rose, Shane Gould, and Ian Thorpe; sprinters Shirley Strickland, Betty Cuthbert, and Cathy Freeman; tennis players Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Ken Rosewall, Evonne Goolagong, and Margaret Court; cricketers Donald Bradman and Shane Warne; three-time Formula One world champion Jack Brabham; five-time motorcycle grand prix world champion Mick Doohan; golfers Greg Norman and Karrie Webb; cyclist Hubert Opperman; and prodigious billiards player Walter Lindrum. Nationally, other popular sports include Australian rules football, horse racing, squash, surfing, soccer, and motor racing. The annual Melbourne Cup horse race and the Sydney to Hobart yacht race attract intense interest.
Australia has participated in every summer Olympics of the modern era, and every Commonwealth Games. Australia hosted the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne and the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, and has ranked among the top six medal-takers since 2000. Australia has also hosted the 1938, 1962, 1982, 2006 Commonwealth Games and will host the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Other major international events held in Australia include the Australian Open tennis grand slam tournament, international cricket matches, and the Australian Formula One Grand Prix. Sydney hosted the 2003 Rugby World Cup and the annual Australia–New Zealand Bledisloe Cup is keenly watched. The highest-rating television programs include sports telecasts such as the summer Olympics, FIFA World Cup, Rugby League State of Origin, and the grand finals of the National Rugby League and Australian FL. Skiing in Australia began in the 1860s and snow sports take place in the Australian Alps and parts of Tasmania.