It was a farewell befitting the brilliant larrikin Prime Minister who came to embody quintessential Australianness in a way unmatched by any leader since.
In the grand concert hall of Sydney's Opera House the many achievements of Robert James Lee Hawke, Australia's 23rd prime minister, were recalled with poignancy and gratitude.
But so too were moments of irreverence and levity that endeared Hawke to the Australian people.
In a soaring eulogy, Kim Beazley, who served as defence minister in Hawke's cabinet, spoke of the "passionate and affectionate relationship" Hawke had with the Australian people.
"Destiny was always Bob Hawke's friend but it was never a passive or easy relationship. He never hid himself from us. He let us see all of his complexity, all of it, and that's what Australians loved about him," Mr Beazley said.
Prime ministers past and present were among the hundreds who filled the concert hall - as thousands more gathered on the Opera House steps - to pay tribute to Hawke, who died aged 89 on May 16.
Former prime minister Paul Keating, who served as Hawke's treasurer for eight and half years, spoke of the "great friendship and partnership that drove the longest reform period in the country's history."
"Bob and I would have private skirmishes over this policy or that, even criticise one another to immediate staff, often heavy criticism," Mr Keating said.
"But by instinct and a large dollop of friendship, we always remained welded to the same objective."
The objective, he said, was "a nirvana of an open, creative and free society with enhanced opportunities for all."
Mr Keating, entrusted by history with the last word on their partnership, reflected on the impermanence of a politician but the endurance of their legacy. He ended with the highest praise for his partner.
"None of us can be on the stage for long," he said. "What matters is the value of the legacy - its quality and endurance. On both counts, Bob Hawke well earned five star rank and 24 carat stars at that."
Mr Beazley spoke of Hawke's style of government which was centred on trust and faith in his cabinet.
"He told each of his ministers 'You know the policy, you know your resources, you proceed, I will interfere when you invite me. My reputation will rise or fall on the quality of my ministers' performance," Mr Beazley said.
"His government advanced economic reform, it entrenched social reform, including Medicare, it promoted gender equality and it stands unchallenged as the greatest ever protector of our natural environment."
But the memorial was also brimming with mirth and laughter.
Gillard government minister Craig Emerson divulged a long-kept secret from his time as a young economics adviser to Hawke when he entrusted with the "responsibility of placing Bob's bets on the horse races."
On one occasion, before a cabinet meeting, Mr Emerson was instructed to place a $100 bet on horse with rather long odds.
"I listened to the race and, to my absolute astonishment, the horse won," Mr Emerson said, only to add: "What to do, what to do? I forgot to put the bet on."
"So when cabinet was finished Bob waltzed into his office and declared: 'Cups of tea all round'. It was a happy day.
Mr Emerson weighed up whether to confess, but ultimately decided: "Why would I inflict such unhappiness on everyone, especially on the Prime Minister of Australia? So I never told Bob. Never. I'm telling you today to confess to you."
Remembering her father as a "magnificent rambunctious human being," Sue Pieters-Hawke recalled family holidays where "dad taught us how to ride motorbikes, fish and pick mushrooms after the rain."
She also recounted the night of the 1963 federal election when her father woke her, as promised, to deliver the results of his bid for the seat of Corio. He lost.
"When I was puzzled, he proceeded to explain the mechanics of DLP preferences to me," she said. "I was six!"
Hawke's affinity with the Australian people was the theme that wove through his memorial.
Perhaps it was to be expected that he would make one final appearance to bid adieu to the Australian people.
As the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonia Choir performed Hallelujah, Hawke appeared on a giant screen and conducted the performance from above.
It hardly mattered that footage was from some years earlier, the encore was welcomed with mirth and applause.
Former ACTU head Bill Kelty, evoking the poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, summarised it in one line.
"I would say Bob Hawke loved this country to the depths and breaths and heights that his life could give, and he was loved in return."
Blanche D'Apluget, Hawke's second wife and biographer, called for an end to the public outpouring of grief and, instead, to celebrate a "life triumphantly well lived".
The memorial concluded with a spectacular rendition of Men at Work's Down Under, performed by Willam Barton on the didgeridoo and accompanied by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
As Hawke's family departed the concert hall, Mrs Pieters-Hawke turned to the crowd and applauded. No further invitation was needed. The crowd leapt to its feet.
One last standing ovation for one of Australia's greatest prime ministers.
- SMH/The Age