We recently polled our Facebook community for their favourite Australian songs, and we were impressed by their passion. We had so many suggestions we can’t include them all here however we have added all their favourites to both Spotify and Youtube playlists for you to save for your next Aussie road trip.
Along with discovering the songs you will likely hear drunk Aussie’s belt out in the pub or at Karaoke, these songs give a crash course in Aussie culture.
Whether you’re a local who has not explored the Australian music scene beyond your own decades or a visitor planning a trip Downunder… let your musical education begin. Below we have added the standouts (or earworms) of the last five decades for your enjoyment.
If you just want the playlist links scroll to the end!
- Australian Songs of the 1970-1980s
- Tenterfield Saddler by Peter Allen 1972
- Khe Sanh by Cold Chisel 1978
- I Still Call Australia Home by Peter Allen 1980
- Great Southern Land by IceHouse 1982
- Solid Rock Goanna 1982
- Reckless by Australian Crawl 1983
- I Was Only Nineteen by Redgum 1983
- Working Class Man by Jimmy Barnes 1985
- True Blue by John Williamson 1985
- Throw your Arms Around Me by Mark Seymour 1986
- You’re the Voice By John Farnham 1986
- Beds are Burning by Midnight Oil 1987
- Australian Songs of the 1990s
- Australian Songs of the 2000s
- Want more Aussie music?
Australian Songs of the 1970-1980s
Tenterfield Saddler by Peter Allen 1972
This beautiful song is a biography of Allen’s family and his own life. It received a new lease of life after the release in 2015 of a mini-series of Allen’s life, The Boy from Oz.
Khe Sanh by Cold Chisel 1978
A haunting song about an Australian Vietnam veteran dealing with his return to Australia.
I Still Call Australia Home by Peter Allen 1980
This one always gives me goosebumps – if you only listen to one song on this list, make it this one. This is one of many versions, among them a Qantas ad and the Australian Children’s Choir.
Great Southern Land by IceHouse 1982
In the 1980s many Aussies thought we should adopt this song as our national anthem. Find someone who grew up in Australia in the 80s, and I am sure they can belt it out word for word.
Solid Rock Goanna 1982
This song about Indigenous land rights was played at the ceremony that marked the closing of the Uluru climb in 2019.
Reckless by Australian Crawl 1983
With lyrics referring to the Manly Ferry and Circular Quay, I am not entirely sure what this one is about perhaps someone waiting for their lover to arrive? It’d didn’t matter we all sang along every time it came on.
I Was Only Nineteen by Redgum 1983
A haunting song about a young soldiers experience of the Vietnam War and his return home.
Working Class Man by Jimmy Barnes 1985
A power Ballad that is the anthem of Australia’s tradies.
True Blue by John Williamson 1985
Possibly the most Aussie sounding voice on our list True Blue features plenty of Aussie slang and is an unofficial song of the Australian Cricket team.
Throw your Arms Around Me by Mark Seymour 1986
Another pub anthem of the 1980s, and one that many an intoxicated Aussie has sung along to. Originally recorded with the band he fronted Hunters & Collectors.
You’re the Voice By John Farnham 1986
I may be one of the few Aussies who really does not like this song but in fairness to it’s popularity, and it’s 19 million views on Youtube it’s on the list.
Beds are Burning by Midnight Oil 1987
A very political song promoting reconciliation between Aboriginal and white Australians that was released at a time when the government were resisting pressure to apologise for the treatment of Indigenous Australians. It was played at the closing of the Sydney Olympics to a huge international audience, and its message is an important part of our history.
Australian Songs of the 1990s
Horses by Daryl Braithwaite 1990
Written by Ricki Lee Jones and appearing in the film Jerry Mcguire Horses is a much-loved song, I doubt many Aussies realise that Daryl’s version is a cover.
Treaty by Yothu Yindi 1991
Treaty was the first song in an Australian Aboriginal language to chart in Australia (it also charted internationally!) Yothu Yindi was made up of aboriginal and non-aboriginal members.
My Island Home by Christine Anu 1994
My island home was written about Elcho Island off the coast of Arnhem Land and was originally performed by the Warumpi Band. Christine Anu, a Torres Strait Islander, recorded this version which had chart success.
Torn by Natalie Imbruglia 1997
A big hit in Australia, Imbruglia’s version was the fourth time the song had been released. Her version was the most successful hitting no 1 in 7 countries and no 3 in the USA.
I knew I loved you by Savage Garden 1999
The second single for Savage Garden and a huge hit around the world the music video featured actress Kirsten Dunst.
Australian Songs of the 2000s
Blow Up The Pokies – The Whitlams 2000
Poker Machine’s first appeared in Australian pubs in 1997 and within three years had had a disastrous effect on the local music industry and the lives of those who fell under their spell. This song is a statement on the destructive impact of poker machines on both the live music scene and the people who play them.
One Crowded Hour by Augie March 2006
This song is said to be inspired by the life of Australian wartime photographer Neil Davis and named after his biography.
Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye 2011
Number one of the Triple J Hottest 100 in 2011 along with number one position in the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand.
Battlescars by Guy Sebastian 2012
Guy, who won the first seasons of Australia Idol worked with American rapper Lupe Fiasco on Battle Scars. He is a judge on The Voice Australia and one of a handful of reality show winners to remain relevant.
Riptide by Vance Joy 2013
Riptide was the second-longest charting single in the US Billboard Hot 100, appearing on for 43 weeks.
Do You Remember – Jarryd James 2015
The debut single on relationships was one of the most popular songs of the year.
Never Be Like You by Flume 2016
A collaboration between Flume and Canadian artist Kai.
Dance Monkey by Tones and I 2019
Tones and I has said she wrote this song about her experiencing busking. The song charted around the world and spent more weeks at the top of the UK charts than Whitney Houston or Rhiana have.
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