The tradition of reversing and resting on arms – that is, leaning on a weapon held upside down – has been a mark of respect or mourning for centuries, said to have originated with the ancient Greeks. Descriptions of sixteenth-century military funerals provide the earliest documented instances of carrying arms reversed in more recent times. Although Australian soldiers still rest on arms as a mark of respect for the dead, the short Steyr rifle, the present Australian service rifle, is difficult to carry reversed.

Defence Indigenous Wreathlaying Ceremony, 10 July 2013.  Photograph taken by Steve Burton. PAIU2013/134.18

Defence Indigenous Wreathlaying Ceremony 2013, showing Catafalque Party with reversed arms.
Photograph taken by Steve Burton.