Strewth! The best Aussie songs in The Sounds of Australia Archive

Nov 10, 2019
From Men at Work at Cold Chisel, these are the most Aussie songs in the official archives! Source: Getty.

The Sounds of Australia Archive kicked off in 2007 as a way of creating and preserving an audio snapshot of Australia’s culture through one of our most beloved mediums – music and sound. The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia adds ten new additions each year, and 2019 welcomed some all-time favourite artists such as Olivia Newton John, John Farnham and Savage Garden into the established list of legends.

With the growing list showcasing well over 100 sounds ranging from speeches to songs to sounds of nature all the way from 1896 to 2008, it’s time to look back at those that made the cut. So here are just a few of the nation’s best moments of sound, all of which are drenched in history and truly showcase what it’s like to be an Aussie!

‘Happy Little Vegemites’

You simply can’t call yourself Australian without knowing this classic tune. While this TV commercial is the version that most know and love, the original from 1953 is the one to be preserved in all its glory in the archives.

‘Down Under’ by Men at Work

Since this addictive tune was released in the early ’80s, it became an unofficial national anthem not only for locals but for those abroad as well. From the very first few notes to the flute that caused controversy regarding its similarity to fellow Aussie classic tune ‘Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree’, this song definitely holds its own as one of the most iconic locally-sourced tunes of all time.

‘I’ve Been Everywhere Man’ by Lucky Star

This tongue-twister has been a hit in its own right in Australia, Britain, New Zealand, Germany and the United States (just to name a few) with a new country-specific set of lyrics written for each cover. But Lucky Starr’s 1962 version is the original and by far the best as he rattles off 94 Australian towns in just over two minutes!

‘C’mon Aussie C’mon’ by The Mojo Singers

There’s surely nothing more quintessentially Aussie than cricket in the summer, and this tune encapsulates just that. What was originally just written as a jingle for a TV ad, ended up topping the charts as Australians everywhere cheered on their favourite cricketers that were called out in the song including the late great Max Walker.

‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’ by Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody

This powerful song explains the story of the Gurindji people and Vincent Lingiari who continuously protested their right to their land until the pivotal moment when then-Prime Minister Gough Whitlam returned what was theirs. It was a powerful piece that placed focus on the injustice Aboriginal people faced and became fuel in the fight for racial equality.

‘Khe Sanh’ by Cold Chisel

Jimmy Barnes knew what he was doing when he created this masterpiece as his first ever single with Cold Chisel. The classic rock tune reflects the experience and emotional aftermath felt by everyday Aussies following the Vietnam War and struck a chord with everyone who experienced the turmoil firsthand.

‘Skippy the Bush Kangaroo’ by Eric Jupp

What started off as simply a show about a boy and his pet kangaroo quickly became one of the most iconic representations of Australian culture of all time. The theme song is guaranteed to stick in everyone’s minds with every child who watched it wishing they could have a friend like Skippy!

‘Eagle Rock’ by Daddy Cool

You’d be hard pressed to find something catchier than this ’70s hit by Melbourne band Daddy Cool. The song has long been a staple at Aussie parties and get-togethers since it was released and has now earned lifetime status in the national archives.

‘Living in the ’70s’ by Skyhooks

Australian music was blessed when this groovy track came on the scene. Not only did it give everyone something fun to dance to but it also gave a pretty idealistic view of what it was really like to be living in the ’70s.

‘I Was Only 19’ by Redgum

With a history so strongly engrained in war and turmoil, it’s no wonder so many Australian classics attempt to encompass the traumatic experience through music. This track by Redgum tells the story of a young boy’s trials and tribulations in the Vietnam War. The sadness and struggle of a teenager forced to fight for his country is something that has definitely stuck with the Australian public even today.

‘Play School Theme Song’

It’s been a children’s TV staple since 1966 and if you didn’t watch it as a kid then you’re almost sure to remember the theme song from the kids or grandkids time. While it gets updated every few years, the words always stay the same which means hearing that first line would take Australians of every generation back to a much simpler time!

What's your favourite Australian song? What else do you think should be inducted into the archives?

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