Are you looking for an Australian playlist for a road trip with the kids? Or maybe you want to take a trip down nostalgia lane. Whatever your reason, this list of songs about Australia will have you revisiting all the reasons why you adore the Land Down Under!
I Still Call Australia Home – Peter Allen
Possibly one of the most iconic Australian songs out there, “I Still Call Australia Home”, was written by Peter Allen and released in 1980. Just a few of the ways it has been honoured since its release include it being adopted by Qantas Airways as their anthem; its first verse being sung in Kala Lagaw Ya, a dialect of Torres Strait Islands, and the song being added to the NFSA’s Sounds of Australia registry in 2013.
My Island Home – Warpumpi Band
Warumpi Band were one of the first First Nations bands to receive airplay for a song sung in an Aboriginal language (Luritja). The words and the music captures the essence of the Australian landscape, the plains and the seas. It speaks about moving from the sea to the desert and how home remains where the heart is. Christine Anu later covered this incredibly moving song.
Down Under – Men At Work
“Down Under” was released as the third single from Men At Work’s 1981 debut album, Business As Usual. Outwardly the song speaks of a patriotic Aussie man who travels the world and interacts with people. According to Men At Work, however, if you look closer, the lyrics are about celebrating Australia’s true greatness and not patriotism in the traditional sense. The song certainly caught on like wildfire in the early 80s. After topping the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1983, it reached number one in many European countries.
Great Southern Land – Icehouse
“Great Southern Land” is a 1982 classic by the Australian rock band Icehouse. The song describes the vastness of Australia’s countryside and the history of its Indigenous inhabitants by reflecting on its geography and culture. An example is how songwriter and composer Iva Davies used polyphonic synthesizers to symbolize the radiating heat in the outback. The song gained popularity over the years and was used as the walkout tune for the Australian cricket team on multiple occasions. It was eventually added to the NFSA’s Sounds of Australia registry in 2014.
True Blue – John Williamson
Recorded by John Williamson in 1981, “True Blue” features typical Australian slang like ‘smoko’, ‘she’ll be right’, and ‘fair dinkum.’ The title itself is a common colloquialism for ‘authentically Australian.’ As an ode to mateship, one of the concepts central to the Australian people, the song is often performed at sports events. It was also Steve Irwin’s favourite song and was performed twice at his public memorial.
Beds Are Burning – Midnight Oil
“Beds Are Burning” by Midnight Oil is an Aboriginal land rights song that has travelled far and wide since its release in 1987. The song is about giving the Pintupi Aboriginal people their land back after they were forced to move into settlements between 1930 and 1960.
Solid Rock – Goanna
Released off Goanna’s “Spirit of Place” debut album in 1982, “Solid Rock” tells the story of Aboriginal dispossession. Shane Howard, the band’s lead singer, was inspired to write the song upon travelling to Uluru and witnessing an INMA. After the community ceremony set in motion his great awakening, he wrote ‘Solid Rock’ to inspire Aussies to educate themselves on the injustices and racism that has been meted out to the Aboriginal people since the colonial era in 1788.
Khe Sanh – Cold Chisel
Released by Cold Chisel in 1978, “Khe Sanh” is an iconic Aussie song today and a mainstay in the rotations of our favourite classic rock stations. The song focuses on the struggles of an Australian-Vietnamese war veteran as he attempts to reintegrate into civilian life. Despite the song initially receiving an A classification, rendering it unsuitable for airplay, it eventually rose to fame and even became the Australian cricket team’s anthem during their 1995 tour of the Caribbean.
Waltzing Matilda the bush ballad – Banjo Patterson
Originally written by Banjo Patterson in 1895, “Waltzing Matilda” is Australia’s best-known bush ballad and is described by many as the country’s “unofficial national anthem.” The title is Australian slang for travelling on foot with your belongings in a ‘matilda’ swung over your shoulder. The song is about a thief who stole a sheep and committed suicide to avoid being arrested. The song’s catchy tune and easy lyrics make it a favourite today despite the lyrics not quite being child-friendly.
You’re The Voice – John Farnham
“You’re The Voice” was released by John Farnham in 1986 and remains to this day one of his most significant international successes. The ballad on peace and unity was awarded the ‘Single of the Year”, ARIA Award and propelled Farnham to global fame. His contributions made a mark on the Australian Music Industry and in some ways, symbolize Australia’s past and future.
Other songs about Australia
There are other songs that belong on the above playlist and here are a few more in case you need them for a road trip.
- Give Me A Home Among The Gum Trees by Bob Johnson and Wally Brown
- Treaty by Yothu Indy
- I Was Only 19 by Redgum
- First Nation by Midnight Oil featuring Tasman Keith and Jessica Mauboy
- The Horses by Daryl Braithwaite
- Sounds of then (This is Australia) by GANGgajang
- Sing Australia by Jasen Owen
- Sunburned Country with Keith Urban and Olivia Newton-John
- Skippy The Bush Kangaroo: Theme Song by Eric Jupp (we could only find this one on YouTube)
If you want to add some of your favourites to this list, just leave them in the comments below.