The Commonwealth adopted formal symbols of national identity during its
first twenty years. They included a flag, coat of arms, coinage, postage
stamps and a seal. Both national and imperial elements found their way
into the various designs.
A competition was held for the design of a flag; the winning entry combined
the Southern Cross and Union Jack. The Southern Cross had featured on
earlier colonial symbols and had been carried on the banner of the insurgent
miners at the Eureka Stockade and on the unofficial flag of the federation
movement. Five competitors submitted this design.
The Commonwealth's coat of arms, granted by Royal Warrant on 7 May 1908,
had a kangaroo and emu as the supporters of a simple shield. The design
did not prove popular, and in 1912 a second royal warrant approved a design
in which the shield bore the six state badges and the emu stood in a more
The federal postage stamp - the kangaroo has had sentence of death passed
From The Bulletin 24 July 1913, pg 1. Collection of the Australian
The rising sun.
Commonwealth troops departing for the South African war in 1902 were provided
with metal badges with a rising sun motif. In 1904, the rising sun design
was developed to produce the famous general service badge for the Australian
AWM REL 25107
New currency and stamps.
The first Commonwealth silver coins appeared in 1910, followed by bronze
coins a year later. The Australian £1 note was introduced in 1913.
The "one-penny red" of 1912 was the first postage stamp. Unlike
a stamped postcard produced a year earlier, it did not feature the portrait
of the king. These replaced British coins, private bank notes, and stamps
issued by the states.
AWM PROP 02044
The wattle was declared the national flower in 1912, and Wattle Day was
celebrated each spring. May Gibbs, who became famous for her gumnut baby
characters, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, whose first adventures were published
in 1916, drew inspiration from the flower for her Wattle Babies.
AWM PROP 01898
Australian flag from the battlefields.
The present Australian flag dates from 1908, when a seventh point was
added to the Commonwealth Star, representing the territories. This flag
flew over the headquarters of the Australian Corps during the decisive
1918 battles in France. It was kept by the commander, General Monash,
after the war.
AWM REL 15057
The diggers' dress.
Three Australian soldiers with double-amputations in London's Southall
Hospital made this girl's costume. It features the rising sun badge and
the colour-patch insignia of various units. They presented it to the manageress
of the ANZAC Buffet canteen.
AWM REL 01748