Are you looking for the most popular Australian symbols and their meanings?
While Australia is an ultra modern country with its beautiful mega cities such as Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth, it is more well-known for “The Bush” and “The Outback” as well as its wide-open spaces, deserts, beaches, and natural wonders.
As the only country in the world that covers a whole continent, it is also among the largest. However, eventhough Australia is a treasure trove of natural resources and boasts a lot of fertile land, over a third of this great country is desert.
There are many world-famous destinations in Australia such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Great Ocean Road, and the Sydney Opera House. The attractions include their unique mammals like emus, kangaroos, koalas, wombats, dingos, platypuses, and Tasmanian devils. These things have become Australia’s most iconic symbols.
Read on to learn more about the top Australian symbols.
9 Top Australian Symbols
Here’s a list of the top symbols of Australia and what they represent.
1. National Flag of Australia
Also called the Australian Blue Ensign, the flag of Australia is based on the British Blue Ensign. The current flag was adopted in February 1903.
The Australian flag consists of a blue background, the Union Flag (or more popularly known as the Union Jack) in the canton, the Commonwealth Star which is a big white star with seven points, and a representation of the Southern Cross constellation (comprised of five white stars: one small with five points, and four large ones with seven points).
The three elements on the flag of Australia are representative of the following:
Union Flag – acknowledges and represents the history of British settlement
Commonwealth Star – with its seven points, represents the unity of the six Australian states and the territories of the Commonwealth of Australia
Southern Cross – a constellation of five stars as seen on the night skies of the southern hemisphere, representing Australia’s geography
The color blue of the flag of Australia represents Australia as an island continent, the blue sky, and the journey people had to make to reach Australia.
2. Australian Aboriginal Flag
One of the officially proclaimed flags of Australia, the Australian Aboriginal Flag is representative of the Aboriginal Australians.
The Australian Aboriginal Flag was designed by an Aboriginal artist, Harold Thomas (also known as “Bundoo”), in 1971. It was created for the land rights movement and came to represent the Aboriginal people of Australia.
The flag is comprised of a colored rectangle horizontally divided in two. The top half is black to symbolize the Aboriginal people. The red in the lower half represents the earth and the color of ochre, which has ceremonial importance for the Indigenous Australians. The circle of yellow in the center of the flag signifies the sun, which is the constant renewer of life.
3. The Colors Green and Gold
Have you noticed that Australia uses green and colors in their sporting teams rather than the red, white, and blue palette of their national flag?
Green and gold are Australia’s national sporting colors. They have long been associated with the country’s achievements in sports. Green and gold colors also have strong environmental connections.
The green color symbolizes the eucalyptus forests as well as the pastures of the Australian landscape. Gold represents Australia’s beaches, mineral wealth, and grain harvests, as well as the fleece of Australian wool.
Nicknamed the “fire of the desert” and well-known for their brilliant colors, opals are gemstones mined in Australia. More than 90% of the world’s opals come from this country, earning this stone the recognition as a national symbol of Australia, representing the country’s cultural life and history.
It was in 1993 that opal was proclaimed the national gemstone of Australia.
Opals are believed to hold the power in promoting passion and romance. They have long symbolized truth, hope, and purity.
The kangaroo has always been a part of cultural and spiritual significance for many Aboriginal Australians.
Popularly regarded as Australia’s unofficial animal emblem, kangaroos – and other macropods such as wallabies – have become emblems and symbols of the country.
This status was not always like this where kangaroos are concerned, however. They used to be “declared noxious animals” due to their notoriety for damaging crops and fences as well as competing with domestic animals for food.
In 1908, the kangaroo became a feature on Australia’s coat of arms.
Many Australian logos feature the kangaroo. It has been used as names and mascots of Australian sport teams. Qantas Airways also uses the kangaroo for its logo.
These animals are also well-represented in film and on TV, as well as in songs, toys, and souvenir items.
On the Australian Coat of Arms, the kangaroo – together with the emu, also an important animal for Australians – serves as a bearer. It was chosen to denote Australia moving forward because kangaroos (as well as emus) cannot move backward.
6. Golden Wattle
The golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha), an Australian acacia with golden flowers, has long had special meanings for the people of Australia. When in flower, this tree displays the Australian national colors – green and gold.
Golden wattles are large trees that grow across Australia, where they symbolize unity.
This tree is ideally suited to withstand Australia’s harsh climate – its winds, droughts, and even bushfires. This resilience has come to represent the spirit of the Australian people.
In 1988, the Golden Wattle was officially designated as Australia’s national floral emblem.
7. Uluru (Ayers Rock)
Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is a gigantic sandstone monolith located within Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory’s arid “Red Center,” some 450 kilometers from Alice Springs.
Uluru is traditionally owned by the indigenous Australians called the Anangu. The famous monolith is thought to have started forming about 550 million years ago. The Anangu people believe it has been there forever. They consider Uluru as a very sacred place.
In the 1980s, Uluru became one of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations. It has been a widely recognized symbol of the nation since.
Climbing the Ayers Rock was always discouraged by the Anangu people, but it was finally banned by the government only in 2019.
Booka is a cloak made from the skins of possums or kangaroos. These cloaks were worn by First Nations people who lived in the coldest parts of the Australian continent.
During the mid-1800s, animal-skin cloaks were replaced by government-issued woollen blankets which were dangerously inadequate in the cold, wet winters. Today, booka represents the continuity of First Nations cultures.
“Booka” is a word for the kangaroo-skin cloak in the Australian Aboriginal language called Noongar.
Ancient people used fire to manage the land. Frequent exposure to fire caused much of the vegetation in Australia to adapt in order to survive and thrive.
Bushfires have also been a part of life on the continent, becoming more widespread and more destructive as years go by.
Apparently, fire has shaped Australia for thousands of years, continuing to evolve to this day. This makes the fire truck such a powerful symbol that signifies Australia’s changing environment.
Fire trucks are also symbolic of various things from fear to bravery, resilience, and hope.