Collection highlight: Sounds of Australia

Ten new sound recordings with cultural, historical and aesthetic significance have been added to Sounds of Australia for 2015. Details »

About the Sound Collection »

Sounds of Australia

Sound recordings of cultural and historical significance.

Early Record Sleeve Art

A visual history of the Australian music industry.


Listen to rare interviews and unique recordings.

Waltzing Matilda

How many versions have you heard?

Our Heroes of the Air

Australian aviation pioneers are celebrated in popular songs.

Australian Jazz Archive

A national collection of jazz recordings and interviews.

About the Sound Collection

The NFSA audio collection spans almost 120 years of recording sounds in Australia and a wide range of recording subjects and formats. The NFSA’s earliest recordings were made in Warrnambool, Victoria, on wax cylinders in 1896 and the most recent was probably downloaded this morning from a performer’s website.

Our recordings include music in just about every possible style, from popular music hall singers of a century ago to the current chart hits. There are political speeches, poetry readings, nature recordings of birds and animals, historical events and experimental recordings as well as steam trains from every corner of the country.

The collection includes nearly 120,000 unique disc recordings and around 30,000 tape recordings. There are almost 16,000 vinyl LPs and about the same number of 7-inch singles; 13,000 78rpm shellac discs; 5,000 one-off lacquer records and 20,000 CDs. The physical sizes of the discs range from a 3.5-inch (9 cm) plastic-coated cardboard record that came with a children’s book to several 20-inch (50 cm) lacquer recordings made of the proceedings of the Tasmanian Parliament.

An ongoing program of digitising fragile and at-risk physical formats has preserved almost 20,000 recordings on disc and tape. You can listen to sound recordings from the collection at Search the Collection and in the Sounds of Australia.