Among the first Australian originals to which foreign tourists are introduced is Ted Egan–at least if those tourists go on a tour that takes them anywhere in the Outback. Egan is a singer, songwriter, activist, author, politician, and hardcore enthusiast and promoter of the more remote regions of Australia, especially in the Northern Territory. While he has created documentaries about Australia and campaigned on behalf of the Aboriginal people, he is most often encountered in the form of a couple of humorous songs that are almost inevitably played by the coach captains who ferry visitors around the Outback — probably because one of the songs, titled “Our Coach Captain,” is about how how lucky we are that our current coach captain has let us come along for the ride.
When he sings, Egan most commonly “plays” an empty beer carton–which seems the perfect “instrument” in the rugged locales that are both backdrop and subject of his songs. I had heard many of Egan’s songs during my first trip to Australia, but it wasn’t until my second trip that I saw him perform live–just outside of Alice Springs.
For those of you who don’t know Egan, the following videos offer a brief introduction to an iconic Aussie. For those of you who do know him, it’s always fun to see him again.
The trailer for his TV series:
Singing along while playing on a beer carton: (Note: In this song, Egan mentions Jeannie Gunn, who was the author of the Australian classic “We of the Never Never,” and the Fizzer is one of the people in Jeannie’s life, as she learned to adapt to the Outback. VRD is Victoria River Downs, a large cattle station in a remote part of the Northern Territory.)