"Advance, Australia Fair"
Written by Scottish-born composer Peter Dodds McCormick and first performed in1878, Advance Australia Fair was officially declared the national anthem by the Governor-General, Sir Ninian Stephen, on 19 April 1984. This version is one of the earliest recordings, thought to be made in 1915, when Australian troops were landing in Egypt.
Despite it’s status as the official national anthem, Waltzing Matilda (1895), a more uplifting tune with lyrics by Banjo Paterson telling the story of a criminal stealing a sheep, is still widely regarded as Australia’s ‘unofficial’ national anthem.
It was the most spectacular parade that the South Island town of Nelson had ever seen. Daffodil Week, a fundraising campaign to provide comforts to troops serving overseas, took place in September 1916, and the highlight was the grand parade and crowning of the Flower Queen. The streets were decorated with flags and from early morning children were selling buttonholes (small posies of flowers), while stallholders sold cut flowers, ferns, plants, seedlings, sweets and produce.
In this short film the impact of World War One is evident. The floats and organizations are marshalled by uniformed soldiers, and the streets are lined with members of the local Territorial infantry battalion. The Rt. Rev. William Sadlier, the Bishop of Nelson, can be seen in a frock-coat in the crowd. The annual Flower Queen, elected by popular vote, was Miss Hazel Win. Altogether £780 (or NZ$100,000 today) was raised for Christmas presents for the boys at the front.
The landing of the Australian troops in Egypt
This commercial sound recording includes what might be the first recorded version of 'Advance Australia Fair', the song that became Australia's national anthem. In music and drama, this production recreates the 1914 arrival of the Australian troops in Egypt, before their departure for Gallipoli. It may have been aimed at giving those on the home front a sense of the soldiers’ lives. The recording is very celebratory and full of pride at the role Australia was playing in the Great War.