Australia has qualified for the Eurovision grand final after 17-year-old Isaiah Firebrace was voted through in the first semi-final of the global song contest.
The young singer from Moama in the NSW Riverina was third on the bill, performing the song Don’t Come Easy on a revolving stage in Kyiv in Ukraine on Tuesday night.
Firebrace gave a quick shout-out to people in Australia in a brief chat backstage after his performance.
“Hi everyone back at home I’m thinking about you guys and wow this is incredible,” Firebrace said.
The first taste of Eurovision for 2017 didn’t disappoint with some wacky performances including a man in a horse’s head for Azerbaijan, inexplicably standing on a ladder.
But it was also a night for favourites with Sweden’s Robin Bengtsson opening the competition with the catchy pop number I Can’t Go On and Portugal’s Salvador Sobral performing the jazzy-ballad Amar Pelos Dois.
Both are placed just behind Italy, who is favourite to take home the overall prize on Saturday night.
The new SBS host pairing of Joel Creasey and Myf Warhurst made their debut at Eurovision, taking over from Julia Zemiro and Sam Pang.
The pair commented on the first few songs during the live SBS broadcast early on Wednesday morning in Australia, but mentioned technical problems and disappeared until the 11th performance of the night.
Creasey did get the chance to make a clever quip about Ukraine’s trio of hosts Oleksandr Skichko, Volodymyr Ostapchuk and Timur Miroshnychenko.
“Let’s celebrate diversity with three white males,” Creasey said.
‘Celebrate Diversity’ is Eurovision’s motto for 2017.
While the viewers’ voting took place, last year’s Eurovision winner from Ukraine, Jamala, performed the song 1944.
The Eurovision jury from each country cast their votes based on the second dress rehearsals. Their votes counted for 50 per cent, with the viewers’ votes deciding the other 50 per cent during the live show.
Australia was one of 10 countries going through to the grand final on Saturday out of the 18 who performed in the first of two semi-finals.
The second semi-final takes place on Thursday night, and Australia has a vested interest, as Danish entrant is 2014 The Voice Australia winner Anja Nissen is from the Blue Mountains in Sydney.
* Eurovision semi-final 1 qualifying countries
* SBS will broadcast the semi-final 2 live on Friday at 5am and the grand final live on Sunday at 5am (AEST).