Australian Crawl was named after the Australian slang term for freestyle swimming. The band was formed by James Reyne (lead vocals/piano) and Simon Binks (lead guitar) in 1978 and joined by Guy McDonough (co-lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Bill McDonough (drums, percussion), Paul Williams (bass guitar), and Brad Robinson (rhythm guitar).
Their 1980 debut album The Boys Light Up had a number of hit singles including the title track "Indisposed" and "Beautiful People". Australian Crawl made one of the most memorable debuts on Countdown, James Reyne performing 'Beautiful People' with both arms encased in plaster having been hit by a car the day before. The Boys Light Up reached #4 on the national album charts and went on to become one of the most successful Australian debut albums of the 1980s.
In 1981 the band released their second album, Sirocco. This album contained the hits "Lakeside", "Things Don't Seem" and "Errol"(written about Errol Flynn). Their following album was released in 1982 called the Sons of Beaches album. The album was recorded in Hawaii with producer Mike Chapman. The album featured the hit "Shutdown" and it became their third album in a row to reach the top five in the Australian charts.
Soon afterwards Bill McDonough left the band. The remaining members then recorded the EP Semantics. The EP contained what would become possibly their best-known song, "Reckless". Semantics reached #1 on the national singles chart during October. Australia’s Crawl's biggest overseas break came when Duran Duran took the band as support on a UK tour. In 1984 when Australian Crawl had begun their first US tour, they were forced off the road when Guy McDonough was struck down with and later died of viral pneumonia.
The band recorded their final studio album, Between A Rock And A Hard Place, in 1985. Tensions within the band caused them to disband in 1986. Performing a final concert on 27 January 1986, the concert was recorded and released under the title The Final Wave.
In seven years, Australian Crawl sold over a million records in Australia. After the group disbanded, Reyne went on to pursue a successful solo career. Robinson moved into a career in television (with Network Ten's Page One) and documentaries; in the 1990s he became the manager for the Reyne brothers, James and David. After a three-year battle with lymphoma, Robinson died on 13 October 1996. The band was inducted into the Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame in 1996, just before Robinson's death.
In 2006 James returned to the stage to blow away audiences in the Countdown Spectacular Tour - see photos and behind the scenes footage from the tour.