It's just over a year since Judith Durham left the stage of Hamer Hall in the early days of the Seekers' Golden Jubilee tour and found herself in a Melbourne hospital battling a cerebral haemorrhage.
Queen's Birthday Honours list
The four members of the Seekers are among the 783 high-achieving Australians including travel writers, media personalities and pop music royalty to be recognised in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours list. Nine news.
On Sunday, she and fellow Seekers Athol Guy, Keith Potger and Bruce Woodley returned to Australia after concluding that seemingly tenuous victory lap with two nights at London's Royal Albert Hall.
Their appointment on Monday as officers of the Order of Australia is a bonus round that their lead singer could hardly have imagined.
''Back when I had my brain haemorrhage I dared not predict what was going to happen. I just tried to keep an open mind,'' Durham says. ''It's such a thrill to have achieved our 50th year with all these beautiful memories. The fact that this honour has come along now … transcends something. We never dreamt there would be this other dimension.''
The Seekers first performed together at South Yarra's Treble Clef folk club in 1962. Within a few years they had become the first Australian group to top the British and US charts.
They were named joint Australians of the Year for 1967 and Durham was awarded the medal of the Order of Australia in 1995. Monday's appointment recognises each member's ''distinguished service to the performing arts … through seminal contributions to Australian music, and as supporter[s] of a range of not-for-profit organisations''.
Durham says her commitment to more than 50 community organisations was born of adversity.
''Particularly with my husband [pianist Ron Edgeworth] having died of motor neurone disease [in 1994]; for me that was a huge realisation that there was something I could do in addition to being an entertainer.''
Three years later, Durham recorded I Am Australian with Air Supply's Russell Hitchcock and Yothu Yindi's Mandawuy Yunupingu. Written by Bruce Woodley with Bushwacker Dobe Newton, the Seekers sang it regularly on their Golden Jubilee Tour.
''More and more I'm grateful for the fact that I am Australian,'' Durham says. ''It's an enormous privilege to have Australian citizenship and a huge responsibility in itself. All four of us are very much aware that no longer can anybody take it for granted.''