BOB Hawke, 87, looked frail as he was helped onto the stage but it was with a clear voice he gave a surprise gift to Woodford Folk Festival visitors.
The former Prime Minister surprised a crowd of about thousands on the opening night of the festival by breaking out in song.
A true-blue Aussie, Mr Hawke sang a true-blue Aussie song - Waltzing Matilda - and a chorus of festival goers joined him from their grassy, hillside seats on the amphitheatre.
Mr Hawke said Woodfordia was uniquely Australian.
"And there's something else that's uniquely Australian, and that's Waltzing Matilda," he said before singing the first words.
Festival director Bill Hauritz said Mr Hawke and his partner Blanche have been part of the festival for about eight years.
"They don't just drop in, they live here," he said.
"It's a great honour to have what is truely a very loved Australian person who's known by so many people wherever he goes, and loved by everyone irrespective of their politics.
"A very special man."
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