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 28 albums, mostly themed around outback life, history and Aboriginal affairs. He has been a consistent performer and tourer with his choice of instrument being an empty beer carton (aka Fosterphone or Victorphone) played by tapping with his hands and fingers.[2] He has been a prolific writer and performer of contemporary folk songs. Many of these, such as "Gurindji Blues", recognise Indigenous Australian heritage. He introduced Rolf Harris to the song "Two Little Boys".[3]



  • 1973 Bangtail Muster
  • 1975 Outback Australia
  • 1976 The Shearers (Faces of Australia Series)
  • 1976 The Bush Races
  • 1982 The Overlanders (Faces of Australia Series)
  • 1985 The Anzacs (Faces of Australia Series)
  • 1989 The Convicts (Faces of Australia Series)
  • 1990 Bangtail Muster
  • 1990 The Kimberley
  • 1990 A Town Like Alice
  • 1980 Rodeo Australia
  • 1988 Ted's Shout
  • 1997 The Aboriginals (Faces of Australia Series)
  • 2000 The Very Best of Ted Egan My Australia
  • 2000 The Urupunga Frog (Australian Songs for Children)
  • 2002 The Drover's Boy (A Celebration of Australian Women)
  • 2003 Land Down Under
  • 2003 Such is Life
  • 2008 I.O.U.
  • 2010 Saving The Best
  • Our Coach Captain
  • The Vision Splendid
  • Beyond the black stump
  • Once a Jolly Swagman[4]
  • Welcome to the Bush[5]


  • "Granny"
  • "A Schluck and a Schnitte"
  • "Sayonara Nakamura" also includes song parchment
  • "The Drover's Boy"
  • "2008 Ted Egan Sings"


  • Queensland Opera
  • Kutju Australia


  • 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 1995, Egan was inducted into the Australian Roll of Renown.[13]

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".[14]

Egan is listed among the "Australia's National Living Treasures" by the National Trust of Australia.[15]

Egan was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2014 Tamworth Country Music Festival awards ceremony.

Ted was the receiver of the National Folk Festival's Lifetime Achievement Award on 02/04/2015 at NFF's Opening Ceremony in Canberra. Egan performed four songs at the event, including one about pioneering women in Australia.


Government offices
Preceded by
John Anictomatis
Administrator of the Northern Territory
Succeeded by
Tom Pauling
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