Eamon’s Australia

Published:  November 9, 2012
Heath Killen
Eamon’s Australia

Eamon Donelly’s recently launched studio and design archive The Island Continent has been getting some well deserved exposure (and praise from the likes of Phillip Adams) recently, so we decided to sit down with the man himself and talk about a few icons of Australian design, publishing, and broadcast that have had a significant impact on his work, personality and motivation behind starting this new project in the first place.

Let’s count down.

5. Channel 9 Idents


The Channel 9 logo, originally designed by Brian Sadgrove in 1970, was given a Tron-inspired computer animation treatment in the early 80′s.  This “Still the One” promo was certainly the most memorable of the decade, however, here’s a little secret that may put this Oz list into jeopardy –  the campaign and jingle was actually orchestrated by ABC America. Channel 9 picked it up here, but these station idents were in fact designed and animated by the same American designer who worked for ABC. Take a look.

4. Wear a Helmet (1985)


This unforgettable commercial from the Federal Office of Road Safety features Australian icon Molly Meldrum. Apart from Molly, the colours, and the incredible animation, the soundtrack is a particular highlight. Interestingly not an original score for the commercial but a sans lyrical version of ‘Sex Symbol’, which was performed by Flame Fortune and produced by Michael Hutchence. Helmets have never looked or sounded so good.

3. Symbols of Australia (1980)

Symbols of Australia is a directory of Australian symbols, trademarks, and iconography, edited by Mimmo Cozzolino and drawing from the early days of Federation right up to the late 1970′s. I stumbled across a worn out copy of this book in the Prahran library almost a decade ago, and it had a profound and lasting impact on my creative life.

2. Australia’s Bicentenary (1988)

1988 was a big year for national pride in Oz. Expo 88 (featuring a Ken Cato designed logo) was in full force, showcasing developments in Australia from 200 years of European settlement, and inviting the world to celebrate our bicentenary. The “Celebration of a Nation” was full of so much colour and brashness that it infiltrated every corner of the entire country for the year. There was no escaping the over-the-top-togetherness of this 12 month long party, and I’m sure every Australian that was around at the time still has that silver medallion buried deep in a cupboard or chest somewhere.

1. Life. Be In It. (1974 – 1981)

The Life. Be In It. campaign of the mid 1970′s was one of those magical moments in time when all that is good about Oz comes together to fight a common cause. It played on the fact that most of us are active, bronzed, outdoors Aussies, but there was a small percentage of us that needed to get off the couch and stop watching ‘Newk’ whilst drinking a frothy as an armchair commentator.

The campaign was cleverly and sympathetically portrayed through Alexander Stitt’s illustrations, particularly through the purple haired, proto Homer Simpson Aussie character named Norm. Norm became such an iconic image of Australia during this period. The Life.Be.In.It campaign spawned countless school programs and merchandise opportunities. Posters adorned Doctor’s waiting rooms. Calenders were hung in suburban homes. Commercials flooded our newly acquired colour TV’s. Life size ‘Norm’s’ even visited communities. This is one truly golden moment is Oz design history.

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