The Air Force Band and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musicians from across the Australian Defence Force have recorded a new instrumental version of the Australian national anthem, featuring Indigenous instruments.

Air Force Band executive officer, Flight Lieutenant Aaron Michael, said the goal was to create a synergy between all the instruments.

“It was exciting to work in collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musicians from all services to create a true Australian sound,” Flight Lieutenant Michael said.

Navy sailor Leading Seaman Henry Burns, who is a Torres Strait Islander from the Ayte Koedal clan, played the conch shell and wooden pate drum for the recording.

“To represent both my Torres Strait heritage and Navy culture is a privilege,” Leading Seaman Burns said.

“I’m proud to be able to show we are taking a step forward as a nation and bringing our cultures together for a better Australia.”

Air Force officer Flight Lieutenant Aimee McCartney (left), Army soldier Private Kirra Grimes (centre) and Navy sailor Leading Seaman Henry Burns were among several ADF Indigenous personnel who played traditional instruments for the new Australian national anthem recording. Photo: Petty Officer Nina Fogliani.

Army soldier Private Kirra Grimes, from the Western Australia Bunuba and Naaguja Yamatji people, is also proud of the final recording.

“To immerse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander instruments with the Air Force Band and their music – we created a beautiful piece of music that truly represents Australia.”

As a junior musician in the Air Force Band, flute and piccolo player Aircraftwoman Kate Rockstrom was also excited and honoured to be part of the recording.

At the beginning of 2021, the words of the Australian national anthem were changed from “for we are young and free” to “for we are one and free”.

The Royal Australian Navy Band made the first official recording of Advance Australia Fair featuring the updated words in January 2021.

The idea for the new arrangement came from the Department of the Prime Minister & Cabinet and was recorded by the Air Force Band in December last year.

Air Force Band saxophone player Leading Aircraftman Niels Rosendahl arranged and orchestrated the music for the recording.

Prime Minister & Cabinet has a number of recordings of Australian national anthem for community use here:

For further imagery of the Air Force Band recording session: