The Real Thing

The ‘Australian sound’ is a bit like the Australian accent: difficult for us to identify but immediately evident to other people. For some it’s the incomparable sound of Indigenous language and rhythm, for others the cranked up volume of guitar-heavy pub rock, or the instantly recognisable cadences of Aussie hip hop.

Favourite home-grown songs give voice to experiences that are both distinctly Australian while somehow universal. They come back to us at moments of great happiness or sadness. Their musical expression – the bagpipes in ‘Long Way to the Top’, the howling harmonica of Paul Kelly or the virtuosic drumming of Spiderbait’s Kram – have the power to evoke memories of time and place.

Local lyrical content also helps feed our musical identity. From open celebrations of place in Skyhooks’ ‘Balwyn Calling’ and Icehouse’s ‘Great Southern Land’, to more reflective takes on the Australian way of life with Bliss n Eso’s ‘Golden Years’. More recently, Australian music has reached across cultural and geographical boundaries to explore new ways of storytelling and reflect an increasingly diverse population.

Australian music has developed in conversation with both local and international audiences at festivals and in music venues, both big and small. The establishment of Australian record labels such as Festival Records in 1952, Mushroom Records in 1972, and hip hop focused Elefant Tracks in 1998, has also been key in nurturing and promoting an Australian sound that remains a prized calling card both at home and overseas.


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