AUSTRALIA’S FLAG - “DID YOU KNOW?”
• The Australian National Flag is the only flag to fly over an entire continent.
• The Australian Flag was the first national flag chosen in an open public competition.
• The prize for the design competition (£200) was a substantial sum of money in those days – representing four years’ wages for an average worker!
• Given that there were 32,823 entries in the design competition, and the ‘Australian’ population was estimated to be around 3.6 million in 1901; an equivalent response rate from today’s population would amount to over 199,000 entries!
• Arranging the 32,823 entries for display at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne took eight weeks, and it took the judges six days to inspect them all and choose the winning design.
• Entrants in the flag competition gave their imagination free rein: designs submitted featured “every kind of flora and fauna identifiable with Australia – sometimes all at once” (eg a kangaroo with six tails to symbolise the six states; a galloping email heading south, and native animals playing cricket with a winged cricket ball !)
• The winning design was unveiled by the Countess of Hopetoun (wife of our first Governor-General) at a ceremony held at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne on 3 September, 1901. (In 1996 Governor-General Sir William Deane officially proclaimed 3 September as “Australian National Flag Day” – ‘to commemorate the day in 1901 on which the Australian National Flag was first flown’.)
• Two out of the five prize-winners in the 1901 flag design competition were teenagers (in fact, only one of the winners was aged over 40)
• The Southern Cross (formally known as “Crux Australis”) is a constellation that can be seen only in the night skies of the Southern Hemisphere. The individual stars are named by the first five letters of the Greek alphabet in order of brightness (clockwise from the bottom star) – Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon.
• The Southern Cross has a very significant status in Aboriginal mythology (eg as part of the legend of Mululu of the Kanda tribe).
• The Australian National Flag was raised for the first time at an Olympic Games in 1908 (London), celebrating a win for Australia in Rugby Union - at that time an Olympic event.
• The Australian National Flag is raised every morning at the school in Villers-Bretonneux in France, in memory of the thousands of Australian casualties incurred in liberating their village in 1917 (during the First World War).
Published 2009 by ANFA (Qld) Inc. For further information about flag history and protocol, and the “rules” for flying the Australian flag, go to www.australianflag.org.au .
FLAG QUIZ - Test your knowledge about our flag!
(For answers, see below)
You may recall that Australia’s flag is the only one to fly over an entire continent, but how much else do you know about our chief national symbol? In the lead up to our flag’s 108th “birthday” on September 3 (‘Australian National Flag Day’), see how you score in the following quiz:
- Following federation in 1901 the new Commonwealth Government held an open competition calling for public input into the design of a flag.
Who provided the prize money for the “flag design competition”?
- A tobacco company
- The Commonwealth Government
- A literary journal
- All of the above
- The opportunity to design a new flag for the new nation of Australia really captured the public imagination. In proportion with Australia’s population now, how many entries would be needed to replicate the 1901 response?
- The designs submitted featured ““every kind of flora and fauna identifiable with Australia – sometimes all at once”. Which of the following were not included on the would-be flags entered in the competition?
- A kangaroo leaping through the constellation of the Southern Cross
- Native animals playing cricket with a winged cricket ball
- A platypus with six babies representing the six Australian states
- A fat kangaroo aiming a gun at the Southern Cross
- Five people tied for the honour of designing our flag, and they shared in the 200 pound prize money (which was a substantial sum in 1901, described as equivalent to the annual wage for an average worker). Match the description with the name of the winner below
- Ivor Evans
- Annie Dorrington
- Leslie Hawkins
- Egbert Nuttall
- William Stevens
- First Officer with Union Steamship Company of NZ
- Teenage optician’s apprentice from Leichhardt in NSW
- 14 year old schoolboy from Melbourne
- Well-known artist from Perth
- Architect with the Melbourne & Metropolitan Board of Works
- The Southern Cross featured of the flag is a constellation that can only be seen in the night skies of the Southern hemisphere, and it also gives acknowledgement to aboriginal Australians because it is so prominent in their mythology. What is the name given to each of the starts in the Southern Cross?
- Which famous Australian wrote the words:
“And with Australia’s flag shall fly
A spray of wattle bough
To symbolise our unity –
We’re all Australians now”
- Dorothea Mackellar
- Sir Robert Menzies
- “Banjo” Paterson
- Rupert McCall
Thursday September 3 is our flag’s 108th “birthday” – please make a special effort to fly or display our flag. We’re all proud to be Australians, and it is on days such as “Flag Day” that we can show it! For more information, or to watch the John Eales tribute video, go to www.australianflag.org.au .
ANSWER 1 – d. The Commonwealth provided seventy-five pounds, a journal called the “Review of Reviews” provided seventy-five pounds, and the Havelock Tobacco Company gave fifty pounds sponsorship.
ANSWER 2– c. There were 32,823 entries from an estimated population in 1901 of around 3.6 million …ie one per cent of the total population responded to the competition. This is equivalent to 200,000 entries today.
ANSWER 3 – c.
- = (iii), (b) = (iv), (c) = (ii), (d) = (iv), (e) = (i)
ANSWER 5: The formal name of the Southern Cross is “Crux Australis” and the individual stars are named by the first five letters of the Greek alphabet in order of brightness – (clockwise from the bottom star) Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Epsilon.
ANSWER 6 - c. A.B. “Banjo” Paterson, during World War I.
More information about our flag and its history, and flag protocol, can be found at the “Home Page” for the Australian flag – www.australianflag.org.au .