Qantas I Still Call Australia Home

The Qantas campaign, “I Still Call Australia Home”, is one of the frontrunners for the top Australian television campaigns of all time. Running from 1997 through to 2004, the campaign has linked together Australians living at home with those travelling or living overseas. Beginning with a range of Australian musicians, the campaign has come to be associated with the Australian Girls Choir and National Boys Choir.

Qantas choir in Hong Kong


The campaign began in 1997 with a three-minute commercial featuring trumpeter James Morrison, Kate Ceberano, James Blundell and other popular singers singing Peter Allen’s song, “I still call Australia home”. In the background are scenes from around the world and Australia. The shot finishes with a Boeing 747 and the words, “QANTAS The Australian Airline”. Click on the image below to play the video.

The 1997 campaign was developed at Publicis Mojo, Sydney. Director was Geoff Dixon, via Silverscreen Films with director of photography David Gribble.


On Christmas Eve 1997 another Geoff Dixon, then marketing manager with Qantas, was watching the Christmas Eve concert of the National Boys Choir in Canberra. On the next morning he phoned John Singleton to suggest a campaign built around the choir singing Peter Allen’s song in six international destinations. They contacted the National Boys Choir and Australian Girls Choir with their proposal to fly the young performers to the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, the Great Wall of China, canals of Venice, the praires of Argentina, temples in Thailand, Kings Canyon in Northern Territory, Australia, with costs reaching three million dollars. Click on the image below to play the video.

Qantas Choir boys and girls on Wall of China

“I Still Call Australia Home” spot was produced in 3-minute and 60-second spots, and broadcast during the Australian broadcast of the opening of the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The choir were involved in promotional appearances, including a promotional concert in Los Angeles that tied in with the highly successful airing of the TV spot in the Super Bowl, January 1999. The Super Bowl screening ensured that Qantas reached over 14 million viewers in the United States. The spot reached an estimated 31.7 million viewers after it was picked up by “high-credibility” media outlets, including CNN International and ABC World News.

This Qantas campaign was created at Singleton Ogilvy & Mather, Sydney, by executive creative director John Singleton, creative director/copywriter Paul Duane, creative director/art writer Ant Larcombe, and agency producer George Saada.

Director and director of photography was Iain Mackenzie, then at Window Productions, Sydney, with producer Andrew Morris. Editor was Bernard Garry, now at Karl Marks. Music was produced by Les Gock, former lead guitarist with 1970s rock group Hush, and founding director of Song Zu, Sydney.

Channel Ten Documentary

A Channel Ten documentary, “They Still Call Australia Home”, provided a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the ad, following the members of the two choirs. Jason Cameron filmed the choir in performances and recreation in Australia and USA. The choirs sang in Christmas concerts in Melbourne and Parliament House, Canberra. In Los Angeles the choir sang “America the Beautiful” at a UCLA basketball game, and sang “I still call Australia Home” on a morning television show. The ‘Qantas Choir’ went on to perform in media launches in Manila, Jakarta, Hong Kong and Tokyo. They together recorded The Sprit of Christmas CD, which went platinum and was nominated for an ARIA award.


In 2000 Qantas came up with a sequel to the choirs’ performance, another television advertisement with the same format. This time the choirs spent six months visiting New Zealand, a Massai village in Tanzania, the Taj Mahal in India, the Statue of Liberty in New York, Xi’an (Terracotta Warriors) in China, London and Stonehenge in the UK, and in Australia an Aboriginal traditional site, a sheep station, and Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Northern Territory, Australia. The two-minute spot and three sixty second spots were shown in American and Australian broadcasts of the the Sydney Olympics, 2000. The making of the 2000 campaign became the subject of a documentary program Wandering Spirits, which aired on Channel 7. Click on the image below to play the video.

The 2000 Qantas ‘Still Call Australia Home’ campaign was created by Singleton Ogilvy and Mather, Sydney, and directed by Iain Mackenzie with his own company, Blindfold Pictures, Sydney.


In 2003 Singleton Ogilvy and Mather promoted a Qantas connection with Australia’s hosting of the Rugby World Cup by featuring the song, “I Still Call Australia Home”, being hummed by a men’s choir. Rugby stars Martin Johnson (England), Tana Umaga (New Zealand), Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland), Alessandro Troncon (Italy), and Joe van Niekerk (South Africa) were shown alongside other rugby players, preparing to call Australia home.

Qantas choir in Montana


In 2004 Qantas and Singleton Ogilvy & Mather provided the third choral version of “I Still Call Australia Home”. This time filming took place in every state and territory of Australia, along with new international locations. Filming started in October 2003 and finished in early March 2004. Shots include Cradle Mountain in Tasmania, the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower (carousel) in Paris, a junk in Hong Kong harbour, riding with huskies in Canada, Queenstown in New Zealand, Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, Temple of Poseidon in Greece, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Ninnaji Temple in Kyoto, Japan and Jabiru in Northern Territory. The ad finishes with 500 children (half from local schools) in the shape of a kangaroo on Whitehaven Beach in Queensland, Australia. Click on the image below to play the 2004 Directors Cut video.

Filming was shot by director Wayne Maule via Plush Films with director of photography Geoffrey Wharton and production staff from around the world. Post production was done at Fin Design.

I Still Call Australia Home by Peter Allen

Peter Allen, composer of the song, “I Still Call Australia Home”, was a songwriter and cabaret-style performer who spent most of his performing life in the United States. He was most popular in the 1970s and 1980s, co-writing songs for Melissa Manchester, Olivia Newton-John (I think I love you). He helped write the theme to the 1981 movie Arthur, which featured his ex-wife Liza Minnelli. Allen’s albums included Tenterfield Saddler (1972), Bi-Coastal (1980) and Not the Boy Next Door (1982). He died in 1992, aged 48, after giving his final concerts in Sydney, Australia. “I still call Australia home” was used in ‘The Boy from Oz’, a musical about Allen’s life, starring Hugh Jackman.

‘I Still Call Australia Home’ is featured on the album, ‘The Very Best of Peter Allen, The Boy From Down Under‘.

Lyrics for ‘I Still Call Australia Home’

Note that the original lyric has ‘Rio’ rather than Rome. However Qantas doesn’t fly to Rio.

I’ve been to cities that never close down
from New York to Rome and old London town,
but no matter how far or how wide I roam
I still call Australia home.

I’m always traveling, I love being free,
and so I keep leaving the sun and the sea,
but my heart lies waiting over the foam.
I still call Australia home.

All the sons and daughters spinning ’round the world,
away from their family and friends,
but as the world gets older and colder,
it’s good to know where your journey ends.

But someday we’ll all be together once more
when all of the ships come back to the shore.
Then I realise something I’ve always known.
I still call Australia home.

Sources and Further Reading

I Still Call Australia Home

I Still Call Australia Home: The Qantas Story by Malcolm Knox

Air Odyssey Qantas TVCs

North Sullivan’s Flickr Photography Set from 1998

Wikipedia on “I Still Call Australia Home”

Chaser Spoof 2007

See the Chaser’s War On Everything spoof of the Qantas ad, made in 2007 with reference to the proposed sale of Qantas to overseas owners. Click on the image below to play the video.

28 Replies to “Qantas I Still Call Australia Home”

  1. Graeme Says:

    The true story about “I Still Call Australia Home” is as follows: The giant Japanese Electronics Company, National Panasonic(Aust) had the rights to the song and used it in many commercials featuring Peter Allen singing the song. After the company changed it’s name to Panasonic in 1988 it stopped using Peter and the song. Then a maketing savvy Qantas paid five times the original amount to use it in their commercials.

  2. That’s great i never knew that is how they got the commercial for the super bowl i still remember that one it was great.

  3. Qantas management recently was happy to sell off our national airline to Texas interests. That deal would have made them multi-millionaires. Luckily for us, the deal fell through.

    CEO Brian Dixon has consistently sacrificed jobs and wanted Chinese engineers to service the fleet cheaply. It’s time shareholders got rid of him.

    The ‘Qantas I still call Australia home’ ad now sounds increasingly creepy and disturbingly empty.

    The Qantas management team needs a massive infusion of new blood unwilling to sell off this beloved national asset, committed to safety and proud of its staff.

  4. Qantas has been using the line I Still Call Australia Home since the early 90s, prob even earlier, dont think they used the song though. ?

  5. Hi Duncan,

    I doubt censorship is really your style. But you pulled the thread on safety at Avalon airport last January. Jetstar, a Qantas subsidiary operates there. As recently as last Wednesday there was a collision between two jumbo jets that were being towed at Avalon Airport.

    But you have also suddenly obliterated nearly all my previous comments about Qantas CEO Geoff Dixon, who, with his seven million dollar a year salary, is today, in the global financial meltdown, answerable to all Australians.

    If you have been given a tap on the shoulder by Qantas, Duncan, you are probably sitting on a huge national news story.

    I found, in relation to safety issues at Avalon airport that all websites and blogs, including one by Jetstar pilots using Avalon were gradually extinguished because they criticised Qantas /Jetstar /Avalon airport. If you are an honest blogger you will test what I am saying. Of course, Qantas /Jetstar / Avalon airport do not advertise that they extinguish sites critical of Avalon – but they do.

    Your site may not have been the most appropriate place for comments like mine. But it was one of the few that Qantas and it’s apologists might have found hard to attack.

    Duncan, you will have to find much more steel for your spine.

  6. Ian your cause may indeed be valid. But the nature of your comments on this post amounted to spam, unrelated to the nature of the site which is advertising and design. I left one comment out of a dozen standing as it was related to the story. The rest were inflammatory, related to one person, and indeed could lead to legal action against this site. There has been no request from Qantas to remove your material. If you have steel in your spine why don’t you start your own web site and post your comments there?

  7. Hello Duncan,

    Corporate TV advertising does not operate in a vacuum. It is part and parcel of a company’s ongoing fortunes, its governance, and the judgement of its shareholders and customers.

    In the case of Qantas recently, there has been a long procession of problems for which management alone is ultimately responsible. The company’s reaction has been to dust off the old “I still call Australia home” TV anthems. This is an odd response in all the circumstances. As a patient Qantas and Jetstar traveller, I feel entitled to comment on all these associated factors – including executive remuneration.

    Duncan, I’m running five websites already and don’t have the energy let alone spine to follow your advice.

    PS: Is labelling someone a spammer defamatory? Regretably, however inflammatory individual posts may be (and I did not take your response to heart), I think it is the case that defamation on the internet is not currently regulated.

  8. As lovely as “I Still Call Australia Home” may be, nothing beats the classic Qantas ads featuring the “I hate Qantas” koala. Anybody have a link to a video clip of them?

    – Canadian

  9. Qantas CEO Geoff Dixon quietly disappeared with all those millions in November. When the history of Qantas is written, it will include the airline’s recent anti-union stance, its negligent apportionment of maintenance to cheaper foreign agencies and wholesale sackings across the board. Nasty stuff. I won’t be using Qantas again until this cesspool is sorted out.


  11. Hi
    Thank you for have done this, it is really a good work! ­čÖé
    Do you know where I can find a free musicsheet of this song?

  12. Anyone have a link to the 1997 qantas ad with jack jones, kate cebrano and blundell? Seems to be have been taken down and can’t find it anywhere! help please!

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