As the dust well and truly settles on Eurovision 2015, it is time to reflect on what was by all accounts an historic year. As a first timer to the competition and being an Australian – this was the year of our lives.

From the moment Australia’s involvement was announced, it began dividing the nation. I’m sure the same sentiments were echoed around the world. “This is Eurovision, Australia isn’t in Europe.” But as a long time Eurovision devotee, there was only one feeling I had – unbridled excitement. As I constantly had to remind the Nay-Sayers, technically Australia had been involved in the past. Olivia Newton-John and Johnny Logan, while not representing us specifically brought us to this point. With Guy Sebastian, we finally had the chance to carry our own flag.

“I found myself rooting for the countries in which my parents were born, but not with great enthusiasm,” commented Jessica Bellamy of Melbourne and she was not alone in her feelings of inherited patriotism. I would say that the great immigration pushes from the middle of last century, where an influx of Europeans immigrated to Australia created the climate of enthusiasm we see today. With these people bringing with them their national pride (and love of Eurovision) and instilling that in their children it was only a matter of time before the push began to be represented ourselves.

I’m not an overly patriotic person; I don’t really go crazy for Australian sporting achievements and things of that nature. But there I was finding myself proud to display my Australian accent, culture and flag and as Liam Clark (Melbourne) noticed “I felt I could be that patriotic and not feel a bit awkward or racist about it.”  As much as Eurovision was a part of me, so was Australia and it was a feeling I could have only imagined and been jealous of before. The first time Australia received a placing number of points, I screamed myself hoarse and burst into tears. It would be best to move on before we talk about what happened when we got our first ’12 Points.’

Melbourne Eurovision Fans brave the cold for the live stream in Federation Square
Melbourne Eurovision Fans brave the cold for the live stream in Federation Square

“Every time Australia was mentioned, the crowd would erupt and it was such a good feeling to be so welcomed,” reflects Luis Alcala of Perth, who was also at this years contest in Vienna. There was an undeniable excitement in the stadium for Australia, every mention bringing a cheer, every recognition of a worn flag a warm smile. Even the choice of Lee Lin Chin as spokesperson garnered a huge response from the audience, a crowd favourite at home and abroad it would appear. I remember being dragged into the middle of a circle of enthusiastic supporters who chanted “Australia! Australia! ” in various languages and jumped around me. It was as if we had finally been welcomed into the world we so longed to be a part of, changing our country forever.

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Friends on stage and in the gym.

It might not seem like much to a European reader, but the only time we hear Eurovision songs on our radio is on the day the winner is announced, and then only in a news bulletin. But now, for the first time ever we are hearing Eurovision on mainstream radio stations. It is hard not to feel immensely proud and nostalgic every time I hear ‘Tonight Again’ in a car, or a store or (lets be honest) anywhere.

Fifth place for our first attempt is nothing to be looked down upon and we are immensely proud of that effort. Guy Sebastian brought it home, quite literally. That transcendent moment  will stay with me forever.  The bond between Australia and Sweden was noticeable, not only were Guy and Mans friends, but Sweden gave us our first 12 Points (of course we reciprocated). I’m hoping and dreaming here, if that bond could stretch maybe we could see ourselves in Stockholm 2016? Either way, I’ll be there, flag still firmly grasped.

An Australian from Melbourne who's passion exploded after our first ever inclusion and my first ever attended ESC. Don't worry I've been heavily into it since 2004, even taking over a high school assembly with my own (in hindsight terrible) version. Relatively new to the ESC community, but with a background in media and theatre, I only look forward to my yearly (but lengthy) pilgrimage.

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