Australia’s National Symbols

Symbols include flags, coats of arms, colours and various items which are generally unique to a nation. Australia has a number of things which are distinctive, such as the kangaroo, the Didgeridoo and even Vegemite. However, below are the officially adopted symbols:

The Flags of Australia

The Australian National Flag is blue, white and red comprising three important parts:

  • The flag of the United Kingdom, known as the Union Jack, is in the top left corner. The flag represents our history of British settlement.
  • The Commonwealth Star is under the Union Jack. This star has seven points, one point for each of the six states and one for the territories.
  • The Southern Cross, on the right, is a group of stars we see in the southern sky.

The Australian National Flag was adopted on 3 September 1901

The Australian Aboriginal Flag

The Government of Australia granted the Aboriginal Flag "Flag of Australia" status, under the Flags Act 1953, by proclamation on 14 July 1995. It is black, red and yellow.

  • The top half is black and represents the Aboriginal people of Australia.
  • The bottom half is red and represents the earth and a spiritual relation to the land.
  • The yellow circle represents the sun.

The Torres Strait Islander Flag

The Government of Australia granted the Torres Strait Islander Flag "Flag of Australia" status, under the Flags Act 1953, by proclamation on 14 July 1995.  It is green, blue, black and white.

  • The green stripes represent the land.
  • The blue panel in the centre represents the sea.
  • The black lines represent the Torres Strait Islander people.
  • The white dancer's headdress in the centre is a symbol for all Torres Strait Islanders.
  • The points of the white star represent the island groups in the Torres Strait.

The Flags of the Australian States

New South Wales was the first colony established by the British. Sydney is its capital city and is the nation's largest city. Sydney is well known for its magnificent harbour and its Opera House which is a national icon.

Victoria is the smallest of the mainland states with the appearance of great prosperity due mainly to the wealth created by the gold rush of the 1850s. Victoria's capital city is Melbourne.

Queensland is the second largest state comprising tropical rainforests, temperate coastal areas and an often dry inland. The world famous Great Barrier Reef runs along its eastern coast. Brisbane is its capital city.

Western Australia is the largest state but not the most populous. It has a rich agricultural and wine-growing area in its south-west but the east of the state is mostly desert. Perth is the capital city.

South Australia is famous for its wine. Adelaide is the capital city.

Separated from the mainland by Bass Strait is the island of Tasmania, Australia's smallest state. The capital city is Hobart.

The Australian Capital Territory is home to Canberra, Australia's capital city. Parliament House, the High Court of Australia and other national institutions are based in Canberra.

Darwin is the capital city of the Northern Territory which has the smallest population in Australia. The NT is tropical in the north and is famous for its red desert in the south.

The Australian Coat of Arms

The Commonwealth Coat of Arms is the official symbol of the Commonwealth of Australia. Not only does it represent our national unity but also identifies the authority and property of the Commonwealth of Australia.

  • The shield in the centre represents the six states and federation.
  • A kangaroo and an emu support the shield on each side. Kangaroos are native Australian animals and emus are native Australian birds.
  • A gold Commonwealth Star sits above the shield.
  • The background is the golden wattle, Australia's national flower.

The Arms were granted by King George V on 19 September 1912. An earlier design has been granted by King Edward VII on 7 May 1908.

The Australian National colours of Green and gold, adopted on 19 April 1984, are also the traditional team colours of Australian national sporting teams.

Australia’s National floral emblem is the Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha) adopted on 19 August 1988

Australia’s National gemstone is the opal adopted on 27 July 1992. In Aboriginal legend, a rainbow touched the earth and created the colours of the opal. The Australian National Anthem "Advance Australia Fair" was adopted on 19 April 1984.

The Australian Royal Anthem "God Save the King/Queen" was also adopted on 19 April 1984.The Royal Anthem was originally Australia’s national anthem until that year.