What do Mr Whippy, Men at Work and a Kookaburra’s laugh have in common?

25 July 2019

What do Mr Whippy, Men at Work and a Kookaburra’s laugh have in common?

The music played by the Mr Whippy ice cream van, the hit song “Down Under”, and our iconic Aussie bird, the Kookaburra all have something in common. They are some of the sounds that best represent Australia, according to new research from Hearing Australia, which canvassed what sounds and songs evoke childhood memories, signify ‘home’ and capture the essence of Australia.

Hearing Australia commissioned the YouGov¹ survey to determine the importance of sound and music to Australians. For many of us, those sounds include Kookaburras laughing (which tops the list at 73 per cent), with more than half of respondents saying the sound of the didgeridoo and around a third saying that waves crashing on the beach best represent Australia. And for those of us aged over 50, it’s the inviting sound of the Mr Whippy ice cream van that’s one of our favourite childhood sounds (46 per cent).

“Sound is very powerful,” explains Emma Scanlan, Principal Audiologist with Hearing Australia. “It connects us to people and to places. The sounds we hear can evoke different moods and feelings and remind us of experiences that we associate with those sounds.

Sound – particularly music – is one of the known triggers of memories and emotions. “That’s why keeping your hearing in great shape is so important. Healthy hearing is a big part of life. It helps people stay connected to the people and life they love and to experience the joy of sound in all aspects of their life. Good hearing plays a significant role in helping people stay active, happy and involved in the world around them. So they can celebrate and enjoy all the wonderful sounds of Australia.”

According to a survey² that Hearing Australia ran in January this year, three of the sounds that Australians say they’ll miss most if they had difficultly hearing are music, the sounds of nature and their partner’s or loved one’s voices.

Music was also a key response in the latest survey, with more than a quarter of us saying that the patriotic song “I am Australian”, written in 1987 by Bruce Woodley of 'The Seekers' and Dobe Newton of 'The Bushwackers' and set to music composed by Bruce Woodley, is the song that best captures the essence of Australia, with Peter Allen’s “I still call Australia home” the second most popular song. For a fifth of those aged under 50, Men at Work’s “Down Under” was the second most popular song.

Sounds that keep us calm and bring us joy

Soothing sounds also play a vital role in our lives, with rain on the roof, children laughing and waterfalls just some of the sounds that bring Australians the most joy and feelings of calm, the research showed.

Nostalgic sounds

It seems we Aussies are also a nostalgic bunch, with certain iconic sounds from childhood resonating across a range of age groups. The ‘Greensleeves’ jingle of the Mr Whippy ice cream van is certainly the sound of many childhoods – particularly for older Australians, with 46 per cent of those aged over 50 considering it one of their favourite childhood sounds. Other favourite childhood sounds include the barbecue sizzling and, particularly for men, the sound of summer cricket in the backyard.

Celebrating sound

“At Hearing Australia, we exist to help people celebrate sound and rediscover all the sounds they love,” says Mr Kim Terrell, Managing Director of Hearing Australia.

“Our dedicated and professional team is here to give people the information and help they need so they can take control of their hearing health to enhance their life. We want to make it easier for all Australians to take their first steps to improving their hearing health - to enjoy the voices of their loved ones, their favourite music or the sounds of nature.

“This is front and centre to our mission to provide world leading research and hearing services for the wellbeing of all Australians.”

If you or your loved ones would like to rediscover the sounds you love, contact Hearing Australia on 134 432, visit hearing.com.au, or pop into one of over 600 Hearing Australia locations around the country for a free* hearing check.

- ¹Hearing Australia study: YouGov survey commissioned by Hearing Australia surveyed 1,157 Australians aged 18 and older from 11-12 July 2019.
- ² Australian Hearing Study: YouGov survey commissioned by Australian Hearing surveyed 1,274 Australians aged 18 and older 24-28 January 2019.
- ³Australian Hearing Annual Report 2017/18
- *Only 15 minute hearing checks are free. Other services may attract charges/fees or may be subsidised for those eligible under the Australian Government Hearing Services Program, to which conditions apply. A hearing check is a screening that helps identify people that may have hearing loss.

About Hearing Australia³
Hearing Australia has been helping Australians rediscover the joy of sound for over 70 years. Its mission is to provide world leading research and hearing services for the wellbeing of all Australians. With its dedicated team, Hearing Australia is the nation’s largest provider of government-funded hearing services for children, young adults up to 26, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, pensioners and veterans. With over 600 locations across the country, Hearing Australia is committed to delivering world leading hearing solutions and value to its clients, to government and to the communities it serves.

Media contacts:
Linda Ballam-Davies
Hearing Australia
0438 992 282

Lisa Llewellyn
Impact Agency
0419 401 362