Sounds of Then

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"Sounds of Then"
Single by Gang Gajang
from the album Gang Gajang
A-side "Sounds of Then"
B-side "House of Cards"
Released November, 1985
Format 7" vinyl, CD Single
Recorded Rhinoceros Studio
Genre Rock
Length 3:57
Label True Tone / Polygram
Writer(s) Mark Callaghan
Producer(s) Joe Wissert, Graham Bidstrup, Mark Callaghan
Gang Gajang singles chronology
"Giver of Life"
"Sounds of Then"
"Dream at Night"

"Sounds of Then (This is Australia)" is a 1985 song by Australian band Gang Gajang from their self-titled debut album, Gang Gajang. "Sounds of Then" was written by frontman Mark "Cal" Callaghan.[1]

The single peaked at #35 on the Australian singles chart[2] in February 1986. "Sounds of Then" has become the band's most popular and recognisable song, and was used as Nine Network's station ID promotion in 1996. The B-Side, "House of Cards", was recorded live for 2JJJ.

In an interview for APRA Mark Callaghan states that the song started as a poem in his notebook, reflecting on the time that his family moved from England to Bundaberg in Queensland, a major culture shock for him.

"We lived half way between Bundaberg and the ocean, all around was bush scrub and cane fields. And walking up to the top of the street to catch the school bus, one morning you turn around and there’s fire. It’s one of those songs where if your goal was only to sell records, whatever it took to do it, then the song would have been called ‘This is Australia’. But it’s not about that. It’s a brick veneer drama. My parents got divorced when they came to Australia, it was a horrible period of my life. And the song is actually about how smells and sounds and sensations can rekindle a memory – which is what music does so successfully for people: I think I hear the sounds of then and people talking / Scenes recalled by minute movement / And songs they fall from the backing tape…[3]

The song has also been used in a commercial by Coca-Cola and featured in the 1987 film North Shore.[4][5] In the 2015 TV documentary-drama Australia: The Story of Us, the line "This is Australia" is frequently used.

An instrumental version called variously: "Sounds of Then" (Instrumental) or (Surf mix) or (Mad Wax mix) was released as the B-side of 1986 single "Initiation". It was also added to the 1996 release (listed below) with an additional B-Side "Giver of Life".

In 2016, the song was inducted into the National Film and Sound Archive's Sounds of Australia.[6]

Track listing[edit]

1985 single[edit]

All songs written by Mark Callaghan unless otherwise indicated.[1]

  1. "Sounds of Then" -3:57
  2. "House of Cards" (live version)

1996 re-release[edit]

  1. "Sounds of Then" aka "This is Australia" - 3:57
  2. "Giver of Life" (Geoffrey Stapleton, Chris Bailey, Callaghan, Graham Bidstrup, K Bidstrup aka Kay Bee)[1]- 3:39
  3. "Sounds of Then" (Surf mix) - 3:23


Chart (1986) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[2] 35


  1. ^ a b c "Australasian Performing Right Association". APRA. Retrieved 2007-10-09. [dead link]
  2. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 121. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.  N.B. The Kent Report chart was licensed by ARIA from mid-1983 until 19 June 1988.
  3. ^ Mark Calaghan interview with Debbie Kruger
  4. ^ North Shore - film credits Archived July 16, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Internet Movie database - North Shore soundtrack
  6. ^

External links[edit]