THE CONSTRUCTION BEHIND THE WRITING
Ever wondered how "Advance Australia Fair" was written.
Well our very own Professor of Ancient Obscurities, AKA D, did and this is how she thinks
THE AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL ANTHEM
"Ok, we need a song."
"About Australia. You know, glorifying it and whatnot."
"Ah. Ok, mate. Shouldn't be too hard, yeah?"
"I reckon we could whip one up, no worries."
"Um, mate? What's in Australia to write about?"
"Uh, I dunno... Though I think I know someone who can help us."
"Oh, he's a real estate agent. Used to be in the used car trade before that."
"Beauty! If anyone can make us look good, then he can."
(half an hour later)
"Hi guys. I heard you needed some help with writing Australia's national
"Yeah, Bill. Can ya give us a hand?"
"Sure. Ok, so what you need to begin with is something that says that we all like it
"What, like "Australians think this place is beaut?"
"Ahhh, no, something more, you know, proper"
"How about "Australians all rejoice about our country", Bill?"
"Close, mate, close. But now you've got to make it more...neutral. You know, just
incase someone comes and sues us because some bloke isn't rejoicing. So I reckon we go
for..."Australians all let us rejoice."
"Do ya mean that all Australians are letting us rejoice, or that all Australians
"Doesn't matter, mate. The more vague the better it is. Look, someone's
rejoicing after getting permission from someone else to do it, so that's good enough for a
"Ok, how 'bout the next line then?"
"Ahh, well that's where we give the reason for rejoicing, you see."
"But we aren't really rejoicing, Bill."
"Never said we were, mate. All I said was that we can if we want to."
"Ah, ok. So for the second line we can have something like: "Because we've got
beer and footy"."
"Okaaaay...How about we make that something like: "for we are young and
"Look, mate. Young people have beer, yeah? They all drink. Famous for it, in
fact. And we're all free as we have the right to barrack for whatever team we want to at
the footy, yeah? So we're young and free. Stands to reason, that does."
"Ok, Bill. If ya reckon. So what comes next?"
"Now for some details, mate. What'd'ya know about Australia?"
"Well, it's stinking hot and we've got deserts you can use as a barbie, mate."
"Actually, we've got golden soil."
"Ah, ok. Oh! It's also got a shit load of flies to make your life hell."
"That's wealth for toil."
"What? Now, come on Bill, that makes no sense."
"Actually, mate, it does. We have a wealth of flies, and anyone can have 'em if they
come here, so they're for toil."
"That's sneaky, that is, mate."
"Bloody oath, but whatzit matter? I haven't lied, have I?"
"Fair point, mate."
"Ok, what else have we got?"
"What? You need more?! I don't think we've got more! I mean, we're on an island where
there's stinking hot land and flies. What else can ya say?"
"Girt by sea."
"Out home is girt by sea."
"What the bloody hell does 'girt' mean?"
"Who cares. But it's what our home is, though."
"What, everyone's? Coz I live by m'self, and I reckon my house is girted differently
to, say, yours Bill."
"Ah. You see, I meant Australia is our home, as in we all live here."
"And it's got girt."
"I didn't say that, though. Where'd'ya pull that from?"
"You did say it actually. You said we're on an island. So we're girt by sea."
"Oh. I said that, hey?"
"Yeah, mate. That ya did."
"Ah. That was clever of me, wasn't it."
"Yeah mate. Pure genius."
"Yeah, I am aren't I? Ok, how about I think of more, huh? Uhhh...oh, hey, we've got
some vicious bastards of animals, mate. Like, you see, on the way here today, I nearly got
me ribs kicked through me back by a bloody big 'roo, and that was after a little bastard
of a wombat tried to bite me finger off. They're bloody everywhere."
"Yeah, mate. Our land abounds in them, in fact."
"Well...I suppose you could be right."
"'corse I am, mate."
"'corse. Yeah, well, they might be cute little buggers, but as I said, they're bloody
everywhere and Christ they're vicious. Bloody ambush ya."
"So in other words, our beauty's rich."
"Really? Rich? I don't think they have money, Bill."
"Nuh, mate. I mean rich, as in there's lots of 'em. Our countries rich with the
little buggers. I mean beauties."
"Yeah, suppose so. Why we had to get the entire lot of the little bastards, I dunno.
I heard they ain't found anywhere else but here, you know."
"Rich and rare."
"Our beauty's rich and rare."
"Well, yeah, they'll be bloody rare by the time I'm through with 'em all!"
"Nuh, mate. You can't kill them. We're famous for 'em now."
"Nuh, we're not."
"Yeah we are. You just wrote it in our national anthem. We have to be."
"Famous for 'em, huh? You telling me that we're gonna go down in history as the
country with the vicious little mites?"
"Down in history's page, in fact."
"What, just one of 'em? That ain't a big reference, mate. Though I suppose people
might skip over it then, huh?"
"Nuh, we don't want that. It'll have to be in history's page at every
"Every stage? You reckon? What, so we have to think of something new to write about
Australia every bloody day?!"
"Metaphorically speaking, yeah mate."
"What'd'ya mean 'metaphorically speaking'?"
"I mean I'm lying."
"Ah, ok. That's fine then. Ok, so are we done, as I can't think of anything else for
"Nearly. Now you've got to say what everyone has to do."
"In history's page, mate. You've got to tell them what they're meant to be doing.
Something that'll sum it all up."
"Final line. What like: "Come here and we'll get you drunk and you'll wake up
being kicked by a kangaroo and being eaten by flies"?"
"Ah, nuh. You need something really vague. If it makes no sense, then you're better
"'cause you wanna try and confuse people into thinking that it's a great place to
visit. Use positive words. Uplifting words."
"Nuh. It needs to be vague remember. Try "Advance Australia Fair."
"What the bloody hell does that mean?!"
"Bugger knows, mate. But it sounds good, thought, don't it?"
"Oh, yeah. Sounds kinda classy, 'suppose."
"That's all it matters."
"Ah. So everyone has to advance Australia fair, you reckon."
"Ah. And how's that done, exactly?"
"Oh, it's ain't, mate. It's poetry. That's how things are done in poetry."
"Or aren't done, in fact, huh Bill?"
"Is that all then?"
"Nearly. Now, you see, we know it's a song, but you've got to now tell
everyone else it is."
"Coz otherwise they won't know to sing it."
"Ah, so how about: "this is a song- sing it."
"Uh, try making it sound a little less like an order. People won't do it if they
think you're making them."
"Ah, ok. How about we just let them if they want to."
"Let them do what...?"
"Uh, in tune?"
"You meant "in joyous strains" didn't you?"
"Oh. Yeah, mate. That's what I said."
"Uh, Bill. This is Australia, though. I've only heard blokes singing in pubs, and it
don't sound like joyous strains to me... Straining, maybe..."
"Look, mate. There must be at least one person here who can sing in joyous
strains, so that's good enough for me."
"Ok. We done now?"
"Give it a bit of a repeat and that'll do."
"What? Say it all again?"
"Nuh. Just the last line."
"Coz it's the title, so it'll just remind people."
"You mean those people who'd forgotten while singing it, huh?"
"So we're done?"
"Yep. There ya go. A chorus of the Australian National Anthem for you, right
"So whatzit in full then?"
"Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free;
We've golden soil and wealth for toil;
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in nature's gifts
Of beauty rich and rare.
In history's page, let every stage,
Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair."