Symbols timeline

GovernmentAustralian National Symbols
Wednesday, 29 June 2016
Publication author(s):
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Publication abstract:

The Symbols Timeline has information about the decisions made over the last century to select our national symbols.



A world-wide competition to find a new Australian flag announced by the government when the six colonies united as the Commonwealth of Australia. The Commonwealth Blue Ensign (later to become the Australian National Flag) was developed from the winning entries. The same flag design, on a red background, was called the Commonwealth Red Ensign, and used on Australia's merchant ships.

The design for the first Great Seal of Australia was chosen by the Government in another competition.


Australia 's first national coat of arms granted by King Edward VII. This showed the kangaroo and the emu supporting the shield, and standing on a grassy mound.

A seventh point added to Commonwealth Star on the Commonwealth Blue Ensign.


Australia 's second grant of arms made by King George V. This changed the original national coat of arms to include the symbols of the states on the badge - and the Commonwealth (Federation) Star is shown with seven points. Six of the seven points symbolise the Australian states, the seventh its territories.

Prime Minister Andrew Fisher suggests golden wattle surround the new Commonwealth Coat of Arms.


The Australian National Flag officially declared through the Flags Act 1953.


The current version of the Great Seal (which shows the national coat of arms) granted to Australia in a Royal Warrant by Queen Elizabeth II.


Blue and gold chosen for the ribbon colours for the Order of Australia.


In a referendum to find the national anthem some three million Australians voted for "Advance Australia Fair". "Waltzing Matilda" was second with 1.9 million votes, followed by "God Save the Queen" (1.3 million votes) and "Song of Australia" (0.7 million votes).


The Governor-General proclaimed green and gold as Australia 's national colours.

"Advance Australia Fair" officially proclaimed as Australia 's national anthem.


The Golden Wattle proclaimed as Australia 's floral emblem.


National Wattle Day proclaimed.


Opal proclaimed Australia 's national gemstone.


Australian National Flag Day (3 September each year) proclaimed.


Centenary Flag proclaimed.


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