Australian Crawl

by Mark Gibson on August 2, 2007

in Bands - A, Most Popular

Post image for Australian Crawl

About Australian Crawl

Melbourne based band from 1978-1986

Australian Crawl was an Australian rock band formed by James Reyne (lead vocals/piano) and Simon Binks (lead guitar) in 1978 and joined by Guy McDonough (co-lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Bill McDonough (drums, percussion), Paul Williams (bass guitar), and Brad Robinson (rhythm guitar). The band was named after the front crawl swimming style also known as Australian crawl. The band’s music was a defining feature of Australian surf culture during the 1980s.
From Wikipedia

A Brief History Of Australian Crawl

In 1978 if you’d wanted to invent a truly Australian group, you’d have invented Australian Crawl, five sun bronzed Aussies from middle to upper class backgrounds: possibly the first high profile band to draw their influences almost solely from their Australian predecessors ( in Australian Crawl’s case, groups like the Dingoes and Sports). Even the characteristic drawl in singer James Reyne’s vocals seemed to approximate an Australian accent.

It was a time when world music was going disco crazy. The first recession in the music business since the arrival of ‘popular music’ saw many international labels trimming their rosters, and Australia took its eyes off the world charts and trends to enjoy the music being played in our own backyard. That recession was a boom period for Australian music. One of the bands at the centre of that boom was Australian Crawl.

They grew up in the Mornington Peninsula suburb of Mt.Eliza on the outskirts of Melbourne, where judges and diplomats raised their young families in a pseudo rural setting within driving distance of the city. While their bored parents attended cocktail parties the bored children surfed and smoked marijuana. For extra fun this particular group of friends also formed a band to entertain their friends. Their first attempt at a band Spiff Roach (!) ended up as the core for Australian Crawl.

Once the band’s escalating popularity brought them into the city they caught the attention of Little River Band’s guitarist David Briggs, who helped them to a recording contract and produced their first single. If Australian Crawl had been an English band they might have handled the subject matter like a Sex Pistols or a Stranglers, with anger and vitriol. But this was an Australian group from Mornington, and they looked at their parents’ world with sarcasm and self-effacing humour. The result was a hit single called ‘Beautiful People’.

While on stage they were these handsome Australian hunks – everything the girls in the audience could want – there was also something brattish and arrogant about them – everything the guys wanted to be. Within eighteen months of their first gig they were the most popular band in the country, on the strength of their first album and its title single, ‘The Boys Light Up’, teenage rebellion in the suburbs dressed up in an accessible chant-along pop songs. The album spent more than 50 weeks in the Top 30 and sold five times platinum, one of the biggest selling Australian albums of the Eighties.
From Howlspace



  • James Reyne – Vocals
  • David Reyne – Drums
  • Bill McDonough – Drums
  • Guy McDonough – Guitar
  • Harry Brus – Bass
  • Simon Binks – Guitar
  • Brad Robinson – Guitar, Keys
  • John Watson – Drums
  • Paul Williams – Bass


  • Boys Light Up – 1980
  • Sirocco – 1981
  • Sons Of Beaches – 1982
  • Phalanx – 1983
  • Semantics – 1984
  • Crawl File (Greatest Hits) – 1984
  • Between A Rock And A Hard Place – 1985

Known Gigs

Date City Venue
18/07/80 Blacktown Comb And Cutter Hotel
16/07/81 Sandringham, Vic Sandringham Hotel
Address: 118 Beach Rd.
28/01/83 Somersby Narara Music Festival 1983

Other Resources

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 David Briggs March 11, 2010 at 10:33 am

Infact I produced the entire Boys Light up Album. Not the just the first single.
The Video represented as the making of Beautiful people is a complete fake.The Producer and engineer represented in the video had absolutely nothing to do with the recording of Beautiful People or the Boys Light up Album.


2 Marcel Tabone September 18, 2010 at 12:37 am

Just before Guy joined Aust Crawl he had started to write a song titled “Stranger things have happened”. Anyone out there know of this song and if he ever finished or recorded it.!! He was at the time putting a band together “Flatheads” and also considering offers to join Aust Crawl. I could be wrong but Guy was the genius behind Aust Crawls material when he joined and possibly even before joining. His distinctive singing style certainly influenced James Reyne. Guy headed Aust Crawl and sang many lead vocal parts but not being a pretty boy did not seem to get the recognition he justly deserved.


3 Johnny December 24, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Hi I am trying to find out what the Aussie Crawl song Reckless is about.

If you can help I would be greatfull

Cheers and Merry Christmas



4 Neil Spencer January 8, 2012 at 4:17 am

Paul, if you read this it would be great to meet up for a beer or three. Simon is in Sydney; Nola in Melbourne and I’m in London.



5 JB February 2, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Neil, a year has passed since you left this message. I was watching some old Aus Crawl vids and thinking about that sailing trip to the Whitsundays and wondering if the “percussion evening” at Burning Point ever made it to vinyl or cd or MP3? Simon is still in Sydney I think, Not sure about Nola, You in London and I am in San Diego. Time for a reunion!!



6 Trish April 6, 2015 at 1:47 pm

I’m trying to find out what the exact date was that ‘Australian Crawl’ performed in Perth at WA Institute of Technology (Curtain Uni now) in 1983. I think it was at WAIT?! It was about June 1983. If someone out there knows, I’d really appreciate a reply. Thanks.


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