The symbols of Australia

The symbols of Australia include the flag, national colours, the coat of arms and the national anthem, but there are many other things that make up the symbols of Australia – listen to Sue interview an Australian about the symbols of Australia.

The Australian Flag

The stars of the Southern Cross represent Australia’s geographic position in the Southern Hemisphere. The large Commonwealth star symbolises the federation of the states and territories, and the Union Jack reflects Australia’s early ties to Great Britain.

The National Colours

Australia’s national colours are green and gold, the colours of its national floral emblem, the Golden Wattle.

The Coat of Arms

The Australian coat of arms consists of a shield containing the badges of the six Australian states symbolising federation, and the national symbols of the Golden Wattle, the kangaroo and the emu. By popular tradition, the kangaroo is accepted as the national animal emblem. The Golden Wattle was proclaimed the national floral emblem in August 1988.

National Anthem

Advance Australia Fair has been Australia’s official national anthem since 19 April 1984.

National Day

Australia Day is celebrated each year on 26 January. The date is the anniversary of the unfurling of the British flag at Sydney Cove in 1788.

National Holidays

Australia has 12 public holidays a year, including New Year’s Day, Australia Day and Anzac Day.

An Australian soldier carries a wounded comrade near North Beach, Gallipoli
An Australian soldier carries a wounded comrade near North Beach, Gallipoli (AWM H10363)

DID YOU KNOW?

Anzac Day, 25 April, is a national day of commemoration for all Australians who have fought in wars. It is the day the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) landed at Gallipoli in Turkey in 1915 during World War I. To mark Anzac Day, Australians and New Zealanders attend ceremonies at home and around the world, including in Gallipoli. In 2015, Australia marked the centenary of the Anzac landing with a ceremony at Gallipoli.

Drawn from the collection of the National Museum of Australia, the Symbols of Australia exhibition explored some of the symbols Australians have chosen to represent themselves and their nation.

Australia — both ancient continent and recent nation — is represented by many symbols. National symbols are often used to represent a distinctive national identity. Some symbols endure, others fade away and new symbols develop as attitudes and values change. Often a source of unity and pride, symbols can also divide and exclude.

The Australian flag is legislated as an official symbol. Others, like the kangaroo and wattle, have changed from popular to official symbols over time. The boomerang was a symbol of the continent long before the nation came into being. In the 20th century, the Sydney Harbour Bridge came to symbolise Australia’s spectacular attractions, while the Holden car became an emblem of the everyday.

Text courtesy of Australian Government department of foreign affairs & Trade

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