Nepean Naval and Maritime Museum

- Museum Home - Nationhood Index - NAA Sub-Section Home -

Australia’s Coat of Arms


The Australian Coat of Arms was granted by King George V in 1912. It consists of a shield containing the badges of the six Australian States, enclosed by an ermine border. The shield is a symbol for the federation of the States, which took place in 1901.

The Australian Coat of Arms is commonly but incorrectly referred to as the 'Commonwealth Crest'. Strictly speaking, the Crest is the device above the shield and helmet on a coat of arms and in this instance it is a seven-pointed gold star on a blue and gold wreath. Six of the points represent a State of the Commonwealth, and the seventh point represents the Commonwealth Territories.

The Supporters are native Australian animals: the red kangaroo (Macropus rufus) and the emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae). Usually the Arms is depicted on a background of sprays of golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha) with a scroll beneath it containing the word 'Australia'. The wattle and scroll, however, are not part of the armorial design and are not mentioned in the Royal Warrant.

1908 Arms The first official coat of arms of Australia was granted by a Royal Warrant of King Edward VII in 1908. This Coat of Arms was used on some Australian coins even after it was superseded and last appeared on the sixpenny piece in 1966.

The Australian Government uses the Coat of Arms to authenticate documents and for other official purposes. Its uses range from embellishing the Australian passport to being widely recognised as the badge on the famous 'baggy green' cricket cap.

Australia has never adopted any official motto or floral, faunal or bird emblem. By popular tradition, however, the golden wattle, kangaroo and emu are widely accepted as national floral, faunal and bird emblems.

For many years, the motto 'Advance Australia' appeared on unofficial Coats of Arms, even before the Federation of the States in 1901. It was included in the 1908 Arms, and was popularly accepted in association with the 19th century song 'Advance Australia Fair'. A revised version of this song officially became Australia's national anthem in 1984.

On that same day, Australia also officially adopted green and gold as its national colours. Until then, the nation had no official national colours, although the use of green and gold by Australia's international sporting teams had become a tradition and had been associated with our Olympic teams since the 1920's.