Howzat! 11 new Sounds of Australia

Eleven new pieces of audio that resonated with Australians have been added to the National Film & Sound Archive’s (NFSA) Sounds of Australia registry.

The 2023 additions include advertising jingles, symphonic broadcasts, an anthem, an early star on stage, the tongue in cheek ode to cricket from Sherbet and, from 1927, a best-selling record from Australia’s most famous harmonica player.

There is one extra this year as there was a tie for tenth place. Australian audiences nominated hundreds of different sounds for inclusion in June this year and then a panel of audio and industry experts narrowed the nominations down to 11.

The 2023 Sounds of Australia, in chronological order, are:

  1. Anvil Chorus, P. C. Spouse - 1927
  2. Sweet Nell of Old Drury, Nellie Stewart - 1931
  3. The Death of a Wombat, Ivan Smith (author), George S. English (composer), ABC (broadcaster) – 1959
  4. I Only Came To Say Goodbye, Wilma Reading - 1961
  5. The Loved One, The Loved Ones - 1966
  6. Howzat, Sherbet - 1976
  7. Menstruation Blues, Robyn Archer – 1977
  8. Harry Williams and the Country Outcasts, Harry and Wilga Williams - 1979
  9. Slip Slop Slap jingle, Phillip Adams (writer), Peter Best (composer) and Cancer Council Victoria – 1981
  10. I am Australian, various – 1997
  11. Concerto of the Greater Sea, Joseph Tawadros – 2012

The Slip Slop Slap advertising campaign from the early 1980s changed Australian attitudes to sun protection. Robyn Archer’s 1978 Menstruation Blues makes the list, championing the right of women to speak publicly about their bodies. Wilma Reading’s I Only Came to Say Goodbye launched the jazz singer’s stellar international career, while the output of Harry Williams and the Country Outcasts has been recognised for its development of Aboriginal Country music. The Loved One, the first single by Melbourne R&B band The Loved Ones, cemented their reputation, while Howzat by Sherbet, fronted by lead singer Daryl Braithwaite, was the band’s most successful single. Joseph Tawadros’ Concerto of the Greater Sea, the most recent from 2012, is recognised for its ambition, technique and range, and the beloved I Am Australian is included for its involvement in many significant national events.

Nick Henderson, the curator of the NFSA’s Sounds of Australia project said:

“These eleven extraordinary sounds reflect the power of audio to chart Australia’s social, cultural and political development. Together, they join the definitive list of Australia’s recorded sound history. It’s a huge privilege to preserve this audio celebration of Australian life for the enjoyment of future generations.”

The NFSA holds more than 300,000 audio items. Its work to preserve fragile audio has led to the digitisation of more than 100,000 at-risk pieces. The complete Sounds of Australia list (from 1896 to 2012 – the audio must be 10 years old) is available on the NFSA website here.


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