The Australian Flag History & Their Meaning
The Australian National Flag was first flown in 1901. It is Australia’s foremost national symbol and has become an expression of Australian identity and pride. The bright colours and striking designs represent the country’s land, government, ideals and people. A coat of arms can also be used to identify a country, city or family. Often an animal, bird or flower is used as an emblem.
Competition For New Australian Flag Design
In 1901 Australia’s first Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Sir Edmund Barton, announced an international competition to design a flag for the new Commonwealth of Australia. There were 32,823 entries and five nearly-identical entries were awarded equal first. The five joint winners came from different parts of the community and they shared a £200 prize: Annie Dorrington from Perth; Ivor Evans a 14-year-old Melbourne schoolboy whose father owned a flag making business; Lesley Hawkins an 18-year-old from Sydney time, Eggbert Nutall an architect with the Melbourne, and William Stevens, a first officer of New Zealand.
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Why Different Coloured Australian Flags
People were confused about the use of two Australian flags. The blue ensign flag was meant to be for official and naval purposes and the red ensign was meant to be used by the merchant fleet, but the general public began using the red ensign flag on land. On both ensigns, the stars of the Southern Cross were simplified to four seven-pointed stars and one five-pointed star. In 1908 a seventh point was added to the Commonwealth star to represent the Australian territories.
Proclamation: the Flags Act 1953
In 1941, Prime Minister the Rt Hon Robert Menzies issued a press statement recommending the flying of the blue ensign as a national emblem. The Flags Act 1953 subsequently proclaimed the Australian blue ensign as the Australian National Flag and the Australian red ensign as the flag for merchant ships registered in Australia.
- The national flag has a dark blue field with the British Union Jack in the top left-hand corner. This symbolises Australia’s links with Great Britain.
- The Australian flag features five stars representing the Southern Cross, four of the stars have 7 points and one star has five points. The Southern Cross is the brightest constellation of stars seen from the southern half of our planet and indicated Australia’s location in the southern hemisphere. A constellation is a group of stars that seemed to form a pattern in the night sky, though, in reality, they may be millions of kilometres apart. The Southern Cross also features on the flags of New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Samoa.
- In 1908 a seventh point was added to the Commonwealth star to represent the Australian territories. The larger 7 pointed star underneath the Union Jack represents the six states and the federal territories of the Commonwealth of Australia.
- In 1975, Papua became part of the new nation of Papa New Guinea, but Australia kept its seven-pointed star.
- The red Ensign Flag is flown by ships of the ‘Merchant Navy‘ is the same but it has a red background
- The white Ensign Flag used by the Royal Australian Navy Flag has a white background.
- The sky-blue Ensign flag is the basis of the Royal Australian Air Force Flag (RAAF). This sky-blue ensign has the RAAF roundel with a leaping red kangaroo.
Information Sourced from:
Flags and Emblems of Australia – Jill B Bruce
Raise the Flag – Cliff Gifford
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