Australia is the largest island in the world. But even so, we are still far, far away from everyone, especially Europe. We are a multicultural country with a lot of expats from Europe, so for us it comes as no surprise that we love watching Eurovision.
Australia has been watching Eurovision for 30 years. We used to just follow the BBC coverage with hilarious commentary by the amazing Sir Terry Wogan. But when he stepped down, Australia decided instead of following the lovely Graham Norton who has taken over commentary since, to set up our own hosts, send them to Eurovision every year and have our own commentary. From 2009 we were introduced to our new hosts Julia Zemiro and Sam Pang who were although new to the SBS Eurovision gig, were no strangers to Australian audiences. For me, it took a while of getting used to because I severely loved Terry Wogan‘s commentary so much (and I still do. I miss him!).
So what exactly does Australia do for Eurovision? Some of us cheer on our native countries that we were originally from, or the countries that our parents come from. Most of us however just love a good show with many creating drinking games or holding big parties inviting friends and family to gather and watch the song contest together.
Due to the time difference we barely ever get to watch Eurovision live, but we do our best to avoid spoilers. Many hardcore Australian Eurovision fans actually watch the finals LIVE online during crazy hours in the middle of the night or early hours of the morning. Social media has also made viewing of the contest more fun with live commentary (sometimes serious, sometimes hilarious) from viewers popping up on screens whilst the show airs on Australian TV. Australians love doing this so much, our hashtags on Eurovision end up becoming worldwide trending topics on Twitter during and long after the show has aired.
During the first semi-finals this year, the video above was played to the whole of Europe which brought back an amazing response. Many did not even know that Australians were fans and have been following Eurovision all this time. Not only was this an eye-opener for Europe, but also for Australia as we are the only non-participant to have had a host speak on Eurovision; which means not only have we made a statement, but we also have made Eurovision history.
I don’t know if Australia will ever compete in Eurovision, and I don’t think many of us really care. The most important thing is that we enjoy it. The whole idea is to bring people together. For 30 years we have enjoyed watching the great acts, the disasters, the wardrobe malfunctions, the weird, wacky, sparkly, wind-machine, lullaby singing, costume changing, dance hopping, ear-worm enchanting performances that have come our way and we are keen to continue our love affair with Europe’s biggest song contest.
Aussies have always loved Eurovision and now the rest of the world knows too. And they love us back for it.