The Sydney Opera House, completed in 1973, is a symbol of modern Australian culture. It is home not only to the Australian Opera, but also to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Ballet. Each state capital has art galleries, libraries, theatres and symphony orchestras. The government supports these, as well as theatre, opera, ballet and the motion picture industry. Musica Viva, a chamber music association, arranges for international groups to perform in Australia and for Australians to perform abroad.

Australia has produced many world-renowned writers. Patrick White, author of Voss (1957) and A Fringe of Leaves (1976), won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1973. Thomas Keneally wrote Schindler's Ark, which won England's Booker Prize in 1982 and was made into the film Schindler's List. Peter Carey is the author of Oscar and Lucinda, which won the Booker Prize in 1988 and was also made into a film. Nevil Shute wrote many books, including two that became famous films: A Town Like Alice and On the Beach. Contemporary writers include Helen Garner, author of Postcards from Surfers (1985), David Malouf, author of Remembering Babylon (1994), and Janette Turner Hospital, author of Oyster (1996).

Australian films are highly regarded and have won international awards. Some of the best-known Australian films are Shine (1996), The Piano (1993), Strictly Ballroom (1993), Crocodile Dundee (1986), Gallipoli (1981) and My Brilliant Career (1979).

Modern Australian music blends folk, country music and contemporary rock. Well-known Australian singers and performers include Peter Allen, Olivia Newton-John, Helen Reddy and groups such as the Bee Gees, Men at Work, Little River Band, Air Supply, INXS, AC/DC and Midnight Oil.

   Did you know?

One of Australia's greatest gifts to the world of music is the renowned operatic soprano, Joan Sutherland.

Aboriginal art, which can be found on rocks, the walls of caves and pieces of bark, uses four colours: black, white, yellow and red. Black is made from charcoal, white from white clay called kaolin, and yellow and red from mixing red ochre and grease. These compounds are ground on a rough stone to a soft, liquid consistency. Most designs are created with the artist's fingers. The drawings may depict plants or animals, or may be abstract designs with geometric shapes. Aboriginal art has recently begun to receive worldwide recognition.

The Aborigines use distinctive musical instruments. The didgeridoo is a wind instrument up to three metres long, made from a hollowed-out tree branch. Lizard or wallaby skins may be stretched over the end of a hollow log to make a drum. A contemporary Aboriginal rock band, Yothu Yindi, has recently gained popularity in the Australian music scene.