Australian National Anthem

The Australian National Anthem identifies Australia at home and overseas and is used at official and public ceremonies and sporting and community events.

History of the Australian National Anthem

The original composition of 'Advance Australia Fair' was written by Peter Dodds McCormick in 1878 and was four verses long.

In 1973 the Australia Council for the Arts held the Australian National Anthem Quest competition to find the lyrics and music for a new Australian national anthem.

The competition received more than 1400 entries for lyrics and 1200 entries for music, but the judges decided the entries did not meet the high standards of Australia’s traditional songs ‘Advance Australia Fair’, ‘Waltzing Matilda’ and ‘Song of Australia’.

As a result, the Australia Council for the Arts recommended the final choice for the national anthem should be made from these three songs.

The Bureau of Statistics then ran a national poll of 60 000 people, which found ‘Advance Australia Fair’ was favoured by 51.4 per cent of people, followed by ‘Waltzing Matilda’ (19.6 per cent).

In 1974 ‘Advance Australia Fair’ was adopted as the Australian National Anthem, but in 1976 ‘God Save The Queen’ was reinstated.

In 1977 the Australian Electoral Office conducted another poll, which again found ‘Advance Australia Fair’ was the preferred anthem (43.6 per cent), followed by ‘Waltzing Matilda (28.45 percent).

In 1981 the National Australia Day Council recommended the Australian National Anthem consist of verses one and two of ‘Advance Australia Fair’ with some modification.

On 19 April 1984 the then Governor-General, the Rt Hon Sir Ninian M Stephen KG AK GCMG GCVO KBE, proclaimed the Australian National Anthem the tune of ‘Advance Australia Fair’ and the verses drafted by the National Australia Day Council.

Other anthems

The Royal Anthem

‘God Save the Queen’ was proclaimed as the Royal Anthem in 1984.

At official and ceremonial occasions, the Royal Anthem is used when Her Majesty The Queen or a member of the Royal Family is present.

When The Queen is in Australia, the Royal Anthem is played at the beginning of an official engagement and the Australian National Anthem is played at the end.  On some occasions it may be appropriate to play both anthems at the beginning of the engagement.

There are no restrictions on singing or using the Royal Anthem at a community event irrespective of any member of the Royal Family being present.

When the Royal Anthem is played at a ceremony or public event it is customary to stand.

The Vice-Regal salute

The Vice-Regal salute was proclaimed in 1984.  It is the first four bars and last four bars of the Australian National Anthem and is used in the presence of the Governor-General.

It is customary to stand when the Vice-Regal salute is played at a ceremony or public event.

The Australian National Anthem DVD and CD

You can get a free copy of the Australian National Anthem DVD and CD through the Constituents Request Program, by contacting the electorate office of your Senator or Member of the House of Representatives.

About the DVD

The Australian National Anthem DVD features performances of the Australian National Anthem as arranged by composer Christopher Gordon.  

This multipurpose DVD offers the song in a variety of formats, including four soundtrack versions—orchestral, choir, soloist or military band. Either one or two verses can be played, with or without the words of the Anthem displayed on the screen.

About the CD

The CD features the same soundtrack as the DVD, along with performances by Julie Anthony and the Royal Military College Duntroon Band.

Australian National Anthem files for download


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The Assistant Secretary 

Honours, Symbols and Legal Policy Branch 

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet 

PO Box 6500 

CANBERRA ACT 2600 

Australia

Tel (02) 6271 5601
Fax (02) 6271 5662

Email: nationalsymbols@pmc.gov.au