Our Patron, Ted Egan AO

Ted Egan seated at microphone using his Victorphone.

Ted Egan AO, became as patron of the C.J. Dennis Society in May 2011. Although when first asked to be patron, he expressed surprise because he did not regard himself as a poet.

Many would argue he underestimated himself, because the lyrics of many of his songs can stand alone as great Australian poetry. Also, like C.J. Dennis, Ted has always been a champion of social equality and the “fair go” is part of his DNA. His biography shows a remarkable man who has made a great contribution to Australia and its culture. The Society is proud to have him as its patron and even though he lives in Alice Springs Ted has twice made the effort to be present at C.J. Dennis Festivals.

Ted Egan Biography

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 stock work and crocodile hunting while employed as a patrol officer and reserve superintendent. Later he was a teacher at bush schools and 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.

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. He has been a prolific writer and performer of contemporary folk songs. Many of these, such as “Gurindji Blues”, recognise Indigenous Australian heritage.

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”.

In 1995, Egan was inducted into the Australian Roll of Renown.

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”.

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

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. This was further extended for another year to serve until 30 October 2007.

Egan is listed among “Australia’s National Living Treasures” by the National Trust of Australia.

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(NFF) Lifetime Achievement Award on 2nd April 2015 at NFF’s Opening Ceremony in Canberra. Egan performed four songs at the event, including one about pioneering women in Australia.

If you would like to visit Ted’s official website please click here.