Ted Egan

Edward Joseph Egan AO (born 6 July 1932) is an Australian folk musician and a former public servant who served as Administrator of the Northern Territory from 2003 to 2007.

Ted Egan
At the Woodford Folk Festival 2010–11
18th Administrator of the Northern Territory
In office
31 October 2003  30 October 2007
Governor-GeneralMichael Jeffery
Preceded byJohn Anictomatis
Succeeded byTom Pauling
Personal details
Edward Joseph Egan

(1932-07-06) 6 July 1932
Coburg, Victoria, Australia
Domestic partnerNerys Evans

Early life

Egan was born in Coburg, Victoria, moving to the Northern Territory in 1949 at the age of 16 in search of work and adventure. In his early career with the Department of Aboriginal Affairs he was mainly in the bush and engaged in jobs such as stockwork and crocodile hunting while employed as a patrol officer and reserve superintendent. Later he was a teacher at bush schools. He was a member of the first National Reconciliation Council.

Egan was the sole teacher at the Newcastle Waters Station in 1965 and was stranded at the property for six weeks when the creek flooded. During this time, no supplies were able to be delivered, so Egan had to hunt for animals such as bush turkey for food. He later returned to the station in 2012 for the book launch of Middle of Everywhere about life in the area.[1]

Music career

Egan began recording in 1969 with "Drinkers of the Northern Territory" and has released 30 albums, mostly themed around outback life, history and Aboriginal people.[2]

Egan wrote the "Gurindji Blues" in 1969 with Vincent Lingiari during the Wave Hill walk-off. Egan says he was moved to write "Gurindji Blues" after he heard Peter Nixon, then Minister for the Interior, say in parliament that if the Gurindji wanted land, they should save up and buy it, like any other Australian. Nixon also gets a mention in the song.[3]


List of albums
Title Album details
Outback Australia
  • Released: 1972
  • Label: RCA (SL 101976)
  • Formats: LP
The Bangtail Muster
  • Released: 1973
  • Label: RCA (SL 102350)
  • Formats: LP, Cassette
Once a Jolly Swagman
  • Released: 1974
  • Label: RCA Australia (VPL1-0049)
  • Formats: LP, Cassette
Beyond the Black Stump
  • Released: 1975
  • Label: RCA Victor (VPL1-0113)
  • Formats: LP, Cassette
The Bush Races
  • Released: 1976
  • Label: RCA Victor (VPL1-0139)
  • Formats: LP, Cassette
Rodeo Australia
  • Released: 1980
  • Label: RCA Australia (VPL1 0286)
  • Formats: LP, Cassette
A Town Like Alice
  • Released: 1980
  • Label: RCA Australia (VPL1 0313)
  • Formats: LP, Cassette
Arnhem Land Lullaby
  • Released: 1981
  • Label: RCA Rockaway (DPL-610)
  • Formats: LP, Cassette
The Overlanders
  • Released: 1982
  • Label: Faces of Australia Series, ABC Records (TELP 1001)
  • Formats: LP, Cassette
Our Coach Captain
  • Released: 1983
  • Label: EMI
  • Formats: LP, Cassette
The Shearers
  • Released: 1984
  • Label: Faces of Australia Series, ABC Records (TELP 1002)
  • Formats: LP, Cassette
The Anzacs
(with Judy Small, Eric Bogle, Nerys Evans and the Anzac Band & Singers)
  • Released: 1985
  • Label: Faces of Australia Series, ABC Records (TELP 1003)
  • Formats: LP, Cassette
My Australia: The Very Best of Ted Egan
  • Released: 1986
  • Label: J&B Records (JB 248)
  • Formats: LP, Cassette
  • Compilation
The Aboriginals
  • Released: 1987[4]
  • Label: Faces of Australia Series, ABC Records (TELP 1004)
  • Formats: LP, Cassette
The Convicts
  • Released: 1989
  • Label: Faces of Australia Series, ABC Records (TELP 1005)
  • Formats: LP, Cassette
This Land Australia
  • Released: 1989
  • Label: EMI (EMX 793212)
  • Formats: LP, Cassette
Echoes in the Dust
(with Andrew Langford)
  • Released: 1989
  • Label: The Original Dreamtime Art Gallery
  • Formats: Cassette
Welcome to the Bush
  • Released: 1994
  • Label: Castle Communications
  • Formats: CD
The Urupunga Frog (Australian Songs for Children)
  • Released: 1999
  • Label:
  • Formats: CD
Packhorse Drover
(with Bruce Simpson)
  • Released: 2000
  • Label: ABC Audio (0642557020)
  • Formats: CD
The Drover's Boy - A Celebration of Australian Women
(with Nerys Evans)
  • Released: 2002
  • Formats: CD
  • Released: 2002
  • Formats: CD
The Land Downunder
  • Released: 2003
  • Label: Evergreen Media (EVGR 002)
  • Formats: 2×CD, digital
Such Is Life
  • Released: 2003
  • Label: EMI Music Distribution
  • Formats: CD, digital
Saving the Best
  • Released: August 2010
  • Label: ABC
  • Formats: CD, digital

Charting singles

Title Year Peak chart positions Album
"Willie The Whingeing Pom" 1973 93 The Bangtail Muster


  • 1978 Outback Holiday (also by Mark Egan) ISBN 0-7295-0040-3
  • 1984 The Overlanders Songbook ISBN 0-909104-74-3
  • 1987 The Aboriginals Songbook -Faces of Australia Series ASIN B000N7AKU0
  • 1989 Shearers Songbook ISBN 0-909104-75-1
  • 1991 Would I Lie to You? The Goanna Driver and Other Very True Stories ISBN 0-670-90460-0
  • 1993 The Paperboys War Ted Egan An Autobiography ISBN 1-875703-08-X
  • 1996 Justice All Their Own ISBN 0522846939
  • 1997 Sitdown Up North Ted Egan An Autobiography ISBN 1-875703-23-3
  • 1997 A Drop of Rough Ted ISBN 0-9595744-0-9
  • 1997 The Drover's Boy ISBN 0-85091-840-5
  • 2003 The Land Downunder ISBN 0-9545726-0-2
  • 2008 Due Inheritance ISBN 0-7295-0040-3
  • 2011 Kutju Australia: An Australian Translation of Advance Australia Fair ISBN 9780980861921
  • 2014 The ANZACS 100 Years On: in Story and Song ISBN 9780987381156
  • 2019 Outback Songman: My Life ISBN 9781760871437


  • This Land Australia series (as presenter, narrator and interviewer)
  • Broome and the Pearl Coast
  • Cape York Peninsula: The Vanishing Frontier
  • Central Australia: The Eighth Wonder
  • Discovering a Rainforest
  • Gulf Country: The Road from Mt. Surprise
  • Hahndorf and the Barossa: Valleys of Hope
  • The Islands of Torres Strait
  • Mysterious Australia
  • Norfolk Island
  • Paddleboats of the Murray River
  • Railways of Yesteryear
  • Snowy Mountains

These are available individually and as boxed sets on DVD from Flashback Entertainment.

Administrator of the Northern Territory

Egan was appointed Administrator of the Northern Territory by Governor-General Michael Jeffery effective 31 October 2003.[6] He was sworn in on 18 November.[7]

On 14 September 2005, he was awarded a one-year extension to his term of office by Jim Lloyd, the Federal Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads.[8] This was further extended for another year to serve until 30 October 2007.[9]


Egan has presented and narrated 6 episodes of the 1989 series This Land Australia, a series devoted to iconic Australian people and places. He also wrote and performed the show's theme song of the same name.[10] He has been a co-host of the lifestyle show The Great Outdoors.[11]


Egan was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 1993 Australia Day Honours List for services to the Aboriginal people, and for "an ongoing contribution to the literary heritage of Australia through song and verse".[12]

In 2004, Egan was promoted to an Officer of the Order (AO) as acknowledgement of "the significance of [his] continuing contribution to the community culminating in his being sworn-in as the 18th Administrator of the Northern Territory".[13]

Egan is listed among the "Australia's National Living Treasures" by the National Trust of Australia.[14]

Ted was the recipient of the National Folk Festival's Lifetime Achievement Award in April 2015 at NFF's Opening Ceremony in Canberra. Egan performed four songs at the event, including one about pioneering women in Australia.

ARIA Music Awards

The ARIA Music Awards are a set of annual ceremonies presented by Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), which recognise excellence, innovation, and achievement across all genres of the music of Australia. They commenced in 1987.

Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
1990This Land AustraliaARIA Award for Best Country AlbumNominated[15]

Australian Roll of Renown

The Australian Roll of Renown honours Australian and New Zealander musicians who have shaped the music industry by making a significant and lasting contribution to Country Music. It was inaugurated in 1976 and the inductee is announced at the Country Music Awards of Australia in Tamworth in January.[16]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1995 Ted Egan Australian Roll of Renown inductee

Country Music Awards of Australia

The Country Music Awards of Australia (CMAA) (also known as the Golden Guitar Awards) is an annual awards night held in January during the Tamworth Country Music Festival, celebrating recording excellence in the Australian country music industry. They have been held annually since 1973.[17]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2000 "The Drover's Boy" Video Clip of the Year Won
2014 Ted Egan Lifetime Achievement Award awarded

Tamworth Songwriters Awards

The Tamworth Songwriters Association (TSA) is an annual songwriting contest for original country songs, awarded in January at the Tamworth Country Music Festival. They commenced in 1986.[18][19]

Year Nominee / work Award Result (wins only)
1991 Ted Egan Songmaker Award awarded
2011 "Queensland Opera" by Ted Egan Comedy/Novelty Song of the Year Won
"The Laughing Game" by Ted Egan Children's Song of the Year Won


  1. Schubert, Steven (8 May 2012). "Six weeks stranded with nothing but bush turkeys for dinner". ABC Rural. Archived from the original on 22 May 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  2. "I have been writing and recording songs, filming and writing about the Australian people". Ted Egan. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  3. Singley, Blake (10 August 2016). "Song for the Gurindji". Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  4. "The Aboriginals songbook / compiled by Ted Egan ; foreword by Lowitja (Lois) O'Donoghue [catalogue entry]". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
  5. Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 101. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  6. Barker, Anne (1 October 2003). "Ted Egan appointed Administrator of the Northern Territory". PM. Radio National. Archived from the original on 11 May 2017.
  7. Churchman, Fiona (18 November 2003). "Singer, author, bush legend and now ... Administrator Ted Egan". ABC Local Radio. Archived from the original on 10 November 2012.
  8. Reappiontment Of Northern Territory Administrator, 2005
  9. Reappointment Of Northern Territory Administrator, 2006
  10. "This Land Australia series 1 (1989) - The Screen Guide - Screen Australia". www.screenaustralia.gov.au. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  11. Ted Egan - I have been writing and recording songs, filming and writing about the Australian people
  12. EGAN, Edward Joseph, It's an Honour (Australian Government), 26 January 1993.
  13. EGAN, Edward Joseph, It's an Honour (Australian Government), 25 February 2004.
  14. National Trust Living Treasures, National Trust of Australia.
  15. ARIA Award previous winners. "ARIA Awards Best Country Album". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  16. "Roll of Renown". Tamworth Country Music Festival. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  17. "Past Award Winners". Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  18. "Tamworth Songwriters Association". Tamworth Songwriters Association Online. Retrieved 23 March 2022.
  19. "Tamworth Songwriters Association Past Winners". Tamworth Songwriters Association Online. Retrieved 23 March 2022.
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