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Tours de Force

Entertainers on the front line

26 November 2022 - October 2023

Since the Vietnam War, Australian entertainers have performed for troops on the front line in war and peacekeeping operations. Their talent and celebrity have lifted spirits and brought a slice of home to service personnel abroad.

Forces Entertainment is the special military unit that fosters relationships between the Australian Defence Force and the entertainment industry. It recruits, promotes, and prepares entertainers for a taste of military life and ensures their safety in foreign war zones.

In addition to the well-documented performances in Vietnam, Australian entertainers have been placed in East Timor, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Solomon Islands, Sinai and in HMAS vessels at sea, often enduring gruelling tour schedules and the possibility of danger. They must adapt to military discipline and situations far removed from the civilian green room and stage.

In this special exhibition, stories, memorabilia and rare photos and videos tell the stories of entertainers on the front line spanning Lorrae Desmond, Normie Rowe and Lucky Starr to Kylie Minogue, John Farnham and Lehmo. It also explores the mission, operations and experiences of the people who have facilitated these successful tours.

Their contribution reminds us of the profound impact on and support for mental health and wellbeing that entertainment can provide our armed forces and all Australians.

Tours De Force: The Podcast

Hosted by comedian and broadcaster, Merrick Watts, enjoy the hilarious and moving stories of some of Australia’s favourite entertainers as they discuss performing for troops on the front line in Tours de Force Live: The Podcast.

In the news

Merrick Watts on entertaining on the front line
ABC Radio Melbourne, 22 November 2022

‘You can be a pacifist ... and support our troops’: Lessons learnt performing on the frontline
The Sunday Age, Stephen Brook, 26 November 2022

Performance review: Tours De Force: Live
Artshub, Mem Capp, 7 December 2022