Toxic Custard Workshop FilesGuide to Australia

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What is the Australian NAtional Anthem called? What are the words to this song? - deisenbud, probably USA

Prime Minister Garrison's page about the national anthem

Loads more info on Advance Australia Fair

Governor General's proclamation of the anthem

The Australian national anthem is in fact the words "Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi" repeated several dozen times, and set to music. While this doesn't command a lot of respect at official occasions, it is a crowd pleaser.

No, actually the Australian national anthem is called "Advance Australia Fair", and while it's not quite as catchy as "Aussie Aussie Aussie", it can sound reasonably impressive if performed correctly. Like any national anthem, it can also sound bloody awful if massacred by some twerp of a singer at a public event.

It was written by Scotsman Peter Dodds McCormick, and was first performed in 1878, although it didn't actually become the national anthem until 1984. Though when I think about it, I seem to remember singing it a long time before this in primary school.

The first verse, which is the only one most people know, goes somethin' like this:

Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free;
We've golden soil and wealth for toil,
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in Nature's gifts
Of beauty rich and rare;
In history's page, let every stage
Advance Australia fair!
In joyful strains then let us sing,
"Advance Australia fair!"

There are another four verses, but only the first and third verses were actually proclaimed to be the anthem. Looking at the lyrics, the other verses seem to include bits about being loyal Britons and how great the British are, which is all very well, but is not really terrific if included in another country's national anthem.

Is it true that all Australian women are called "Sheila"? Isn't that a bit confusing? And what about that Rod Stewart song, shouldn't that be "Waltzing Sheila" then? - Mario, location unknown

Banjo Patterson and Waltzing Matilda information

There's about nine million girls and women in Australia, and they are not all called Sheila. A few of them might be, but they in no way represent the majority, or even a significant portion.

There's an old joke that suggests that the average Australian man's foreplay consists of shouting "Brace yourself, sheila!", but in actual fact most Australian are far more sophisticated than this, and generally take the effort to at least remember and use the correct name.

The very idea of Rod Stewart performing, or even writing, "Waltzing Matilda" is quite disturbing, and may well give me nightmares tonight. The song was actually written by A.B. "Banjo" Patterson in 1895, which would be at least a couple of years before Rod was born. 

Do you have any music festivals in Australia? - Rosie, USA

Big Day Out

Tamworth Country Music Festival

Melbourne Funk Festival

Yahoo - Australian music festivals

No, not at all. I don't think anybody's ever really thought about anything like that. Especially as we don't have any music here to speak of. The closest thing we might get to a music festival is a few old stockman types singing around a camp fire.

Please note: A few replies to me have suggested that this is not quite right. Very true. The above answer was a ghastly miscalculated attempt at humour on my part. Ah well. Australia is actually chock full of great music. See the links at the left for more information on just a small number of the music festivals in Australia. And for more information about Australian music, check the Australian Music Web Site.

Who or what are crowded house? Is this a popular Australian Band? - deisenbud, probably USA

Australian Music Web Site

AMWS: Crowded House

UBL: Crowded House

Crowded House were one of the most consistently popular rock bands in Australia, from 1985 until their demise in 1996. When I say popular, I don't really mean that they dominated the singles' charts. 'Cos you know, drum-machine and synthesiser-filled mindless dance tracks almost always dominate the singles' charts.

Actually, I've been wondering how good an indication of music sales the singles' charts are? Surely these days the vast bulk of CD sales are of albums, not singles? So wouldn't the album charts be a better indication? Ah, if I ran the world...

Anyway, back to Crowded House. Whether they're Australian or New Zealanders could be debated - their albums were recorded in both countries, and their members also come from both countries.

Headed by very talented songwriter Neil Finn, their biggest US hit was "Don't Dream It's Over", which reached number 2 in 1986. They had more hits in Europe, and apparently band members Neil and Tim Finn were awarded OBEs for their contribution to the arts.

Eventually the touring became too much for them, and they wound up the band in 1996, their final concert being a fundraiser on the steps of the Sydney Opera House, to just a handful of people. Well, okay, to about 100,000 people. But who's counting?

Some other well-known Australian musicians - off the top of my head - include Midnight Oil, INXS, AC/DC, silverchair, and The Church.

I'm planning to visit Australia soon, and am looking around for some really good Australian music to get me in the mood. What do you recommend? (Note: I've read most of your site, so be aware that I trust you absolutely!) - Lisa

Australian Music Web Site

ABC Radio: Triple J

On The Air: Webcast radio stations

So you trust me absolutely? In that case, let me tell you about a really great investment opportunity. All you need to do is send me all your money...

Some of the Australian music that I really like includes the legendary Paul Kelly, Deborah Conway, Hunters And Collectors (defunct), Crowded House (defunct), Things Of Stone And Wood, You Am I, Custard, silverchair (oh, don't you hate these people who insist on starting their name with a lower case letter?), Weddings Parties Anything, Spiderbait, Powderfinger...

There's heaps. Check the Australian Music Web Site - (I trust the cheque's in the mail, Eva) for the full list.

I have no idea how many of these are available outside Australia, by the way. But thanks to the miracle of the Web, you can listen to several local radio stations online.

I don't know why, but a lot of Americans seem to think Chumbawamba are Australian. They're not. Not everybody with a weird accent is Australian!

[There is] an odd-sounding song by your countrymen that has made an appearence here. The "group" is called "Chumbawamba". The "song" is called "Tubthumper." As a cultural export, I'm not exactly sure it does Australia proud. - Douglas, USA
  I hate to disappoint you Douglas, but while there are plenty of oddball Australian bands (TISM especially springs to mind), Chumbawamba isn't one of them. They're from Leeds, in England. Heck, they don't even sound Australian! And actually, I quite like Tubthumping. They've used it for a Rugby commercial here.
Do you have any exposure to Hanson in Australia? If not, I'll be moving there in a week. If so, what safeguards do you use against them? - Bryan Evans
  Sometimes it's to our disadvantage that Australia is so plugged into the rest of the western world. Practically every musical act you've ever hated, in fact, every bit of western culture that you've ever hated, that has made it big somewhere else, has probably made it big in Australia too. One can only conclude that there is a portion of the population (teenage girls, in the case of Hanson) that likes it.

So if you're looking to run away from the likes of Hanson, Michael Bolton, Celine Dion or that bloody Barbie Girl song, you won't entirely escape them by coming here. Perhaps becoming a hermit and going to live in a soundproofed cave somewhere is a better bet?

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Toxic Custard Workshop Files Toxic Custard Guide to Australia

Copyrightę1996-2001 Daniel Bowen. Questions remain the property of their authors.