THE Territory will always hold a special place in Lee Kernaghan's heart.
It's the place where he wrote the album 1959, when he was staying with the Dann family on Amburla Station, west of Alice Springs, and Darwin was the city he chose to debut his first public performance of the hit song, She's My Ute, in 1993.
So it's fitting his tour stop at SkyCity concert lawns on May 27 is a date he is looking forward to.
"I am incredibly excited to be coming back to the Northern Territory,” he said.
"I have been bombarded on Facebook with people saying 'when you are coming back to the Territory?'.”
His tour, which stretches right across Australia, is a celebration of 25 years since the debut of his hit song Boys from the Bush, which was released on the double-platinum selling album The Outback Club - a CD that set the pace for Kernaghan's musical career in the 90s.
Now, with much of the tour still ahead of him, Kernaghan caught up with the Rural Weekly to reflect on his career, which he describes as a "wild, epic ride”.
To start off, the now father-of-two explained what it was like to be a younger man watching his career start to catch steam.
"Well, it was kind of hard to believe as it all started to happen because I had spent 15 years playing pubs and clubs and trying to get a record deal and nothing was going right ... but Boys from the Bush changed all of that,” he said.
"The Outback Club album, it started off fairly slow. My record company said if we could sell 3000 copies of it they would allow me to make another record ... and it kind of exploded - it really changed my life forever.”
During the past 25 years, he has won Aria awards, 36 Golden Guitars and been named Australian of the Year, however, when asked what he was most proud of, his answer was humble: "marrying my wife Robby and the birth of my two boys Jet and Rock,” he said.
Robby was set to make the Darwin leg of his tour, he said.
"She is a huge Territory fan and a huge Paspaley Pearls fan,” he laughed.
"It's one of her passions. We have lots of friends who are up that way.”
Writing music in the Northern Territory was the perfect location for crafting 1959, he said.
He looks back at his time on Amburla Station with fond memories.
"It was totally different to the country where I was from. I grew up in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains in the Riverina,” he said.
"So just to get in a chopper with Troy Dann and fly off over the MacDonnell Ranges, and get dropped off in the middle of nowhere with a couple of swags, it was a life changing experience. We sat around the camp fire and gazed up at a billion stars, the falling stars and the satellites.
"It was another dimension of freedom I think a lot of people living in cities and big country towns never get to experience.”
And while Boys from the Bush is a song that made him famous all those years ago, Kernaghan says his greatest musical honour was writing and recording the Spirit of the Anzacs album.
"It just touches my heart. It hits my heart so profoundly, to see that song being performed by schools right across Australia every Anzac Day. That song belongs to my country and it belongs to the veterans.”
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.