Almanac Music: What’s Your Most Iconic Aussie Song?





My wife, Elena, passed her citizenship test yesterday (100%), after a lifetime of temporary and bridging visas, heartache and stress. She came back from Warrnambool glowing. A real moment of joy!





   When she walked into the lounge the kid and I had a drawing, some candles, and the Aussie anthem, in all its dull, very British drudgery, moping along full bore. We gave her a salute, said; “She’ll be right, mate”, cracked the lid and put out a message on Facebook.


   Iconic Aussie songs please.


   (And a pre-emptive hangover warning to the boss.)











   After we got Khe Sanh out of the way – I never liked it, but I also never liked Bundy Rum, and sometimes drink that just to feel true blue), and threw a dart at any one of 100 Midnight Oil songs, before really getting down to goannas, vegemite and thongs.





   She picked Down Under – the song that inspired her to choose Australia over Brazil. (Good one Greg Ham! Thank you, and rest in peace, mate.)











   I went for Treaty, every song ever by the Monaros, and, for the fun of it, UV Race’s Raw Balls.

Of the 100+ suggestions that came in, The Church’s Under the Milky Way nailed it for me.
Being a Zurbo, wifey was so happy she forgot to buy a nice red. Fortunately, the cupboard remembered a few bottles, as suggestion after suggestion flowed in. 120 so far, and counting.





   Many of them were less “iconic Aussie songs”, that defined the country, like, say, GANGgajang’s Sounds of Then (This Is Australia), as simply a song or two they loved as teenagers, iconic to them, which tends to be how music works. But that’s fine, too.








   The diversity was huge! Rap, techno, punk, rock, indi, pop. Couldn’t bring myself to play The Voice, but had to admit it’s not too far off the brief. Chad Morgan is iconic… but awkward to dance to! Christine Anu got a run with My Island Home, though I prefer the original.





   Elena liked Hilltop Hoods when I played them. They used to flood the Lilydale Larder, a small loggers pub where we’d all let rip on a Friday. No windows, drinking, celebrating us and ours, free from with world.


   Very Aussie to me.


   Selection 1112 on the jukebox. It was playing when I walked in after a long day jagging firewood, filthy, tired, and met my wife to be.


   Also very Aussie to me was, and always is, anything by Denni. Her song, ‘Strongest Mob’. So deadly! Whether the masses have heard it or not.








   Does a song have to top the charts to be iconic? Dave Warner did with Suburban Boy. Norm Hudson’s The Newcastle Song is just about the most Iconic Aussie song I’ve ever heard. Didn’t chart.


   And the songs kept coming, and we kept dancing, my Aussie Venezuelan wife and I.


   Soon, a wakeful, crying child brought us back to here and now. Elena went to tend to her. I finished the red, continuing to listen for the most iconic Australian song of all time.






You can read more from Matt Zurbo Here.



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  1. Google “Waltzing Matilda Territory Style” by Ali Mills, on Youtube. Gotta be one of the best versions. Do like Ganggajang effort though, just the sounds and memories evoked.

  2. george smith says

    Not happy with Christine Anu’s version of My Island Home. She certainly brought the song’s awareness to a bigger and younger audience, but it is dwarfed, dwarfed I say by the original by the Warumpi Band and their legendary frontman, the late great Aboriginal Mick Jagger himself George Rrurrambu Burarrwanga

    Warumpi Band – My Island Home 1988 – YouTube › watch

  3. Congrats to Elena on becoming a dinky di Aussie (hahaha)!!

    For what it is worth, old Dog, here is a list of my definitives (in no particular order):

    1. Wide Open Road – Triffids,
    2. Don’t Change – INXS,
    3. Midnight Oil – Warakurna,
    4. From little things, big things grow – Paul Kelly / Kev Carmody,
    5. Under the clocks – Weddings Parties Anything,
    6. Pub with no beer – Slim Dusty,
    7. Tojo – Hoodoo Gurus,
    8. Love goes on! – Go Betweens,
    9. Hound dog – Cold Chisel,
    10. Carlton (Lygon St limbo) – Skyhooks,

  4. Matt, the Newcastle Song certainly charted. I owned a copy when I was a kid.

    It reached Number One in Melbourne, and a few other places. It was in the top ten biggest selling singles in Australia for 1975.


  5. Mark Poustie says

    Loved the diversity of the music in your article. Who would think you could write something featuring all of Chad Morgan, Midnight Oil, Yothu Yindi, Dave Warner,The Hilltop Hoods and Chrstine Anu.

    I like Redgum’s – The Last Frontier and to introduce another genre, from spoken word, Austen Tayshus – Australiana.
    Mark P

  6. Rick Kane says

    Sone rippers in there Matt. Did Way Out West get considered? And another,No Fixed Address, We Have Survived. For me, Archie Roach stands head and shoulders above the next best Aussie songwriter yet interestingly my favourite song of his is by Ruby Hunter, Down City Streets. Finally, to add to the WA contingent, Stella Donnelly and Boys Will Be Boys. Onya

  7. Trevor Blainey says

    I’d offer some others

    I’ll Be Gone by Spectrum
    Eagle Rock by Daddy Cool
    Seasons Of Change by Blackfeather
    Down In The Lucky Country by Richard Clapton
    Streets Of Our Town by The Go Betweens

    And a lot of Paul Kelly songs in particular the version of Dumb Things he did with AB Original and Dan Sultan.

  8. Trevor Blainey says

    But I should also add what a nice moment for you and your wife. And great to have it call forth this piece.

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