The Eurovision Song Contest has invited Australia to enter the competition for the first time to mark its 60th anniversary show next year.
The Eurovision has a loyal and devoted following in Australia and was watched by around three million viewers last year. Now the country will be represented for the first time as a wildcard entry.
According to The Guardian, the show's organisers, the European Broadcasting Union, described it as a one-off event and added that the only way Australia could return would be if it won.
Jon Ola Sand, the EBU’s executive supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest, said: "At the very heart of the Eurovision Song Contest is the importance of bringing countries together to celebrate diversity, music and culture."
Sand said it would be remiss to "throw the world’s biggest party" to celebrate 60 years without inviting "the show’s Australian friends."
While the EBU said Australia’s participation was a one-off event, it did not rule out the notion of inviting a different guest nation each year in future contests.
Australia’s affection for the show was illustrated during last year’s Eurovision semi-final in Denmark, when it staged an interval song and dance number featuring surfboards, koala and kangaroo costumes and beer.
Australian singer Jessica Mauboy, runner-up of Australian Idol, also sang at the event.
Australian performers are no stranger to the Eurovision as Olivia Newton John and Gina G both represented the UK with Long Live Love In and Ooh Aah . . . Just a Little Bit in 1974 and 1996 respectively, while Jane Comerford was the lead singer for German entry Texas Lightning in 2006.
Michael Ebeid, managing director of Australian public-service broadcaster SBS, billed his country’s inclusion as a "historic opportunity for Australia to be represented on the world’s biggest stage".
First aired in 1956, The Eurovision Song Contest has steadily expanded over the years with Israel joining in 1973, followed by a host of eastern European countries in the early 1990s.