By the Colonial Defence Act of 1865 it became lawful for any Colony, subject to certain conditions, to provide and maintain its own vessels of war, and these were authorised to wear the Blue Ensign with the seal or badge of the Colony in the fly.

The earliest badge of the Colony of New South Wales was the Red Cross of St George on a silver field. This was authorised in an Order-in-Council of the British Government, dated 7th August, 1869.

NSW Flags & Emblems

On 15th February, 1876, a new badge was proclaimed in the New South Wales Government Gazette.

The notice read: “His Excellency the Governor has been pleased, with the advice of the Executive Council, to direct that, for the future, the badge of the Colony to be emblazoned in the centre of the Union Jack used by the Governor when afloat, and to be inserted in the Blue Ensign by vessels in the employment of the Colonial Government, shall be as hereinafter described –

Argent, on a cross gules a lion passant guardant or between four stars of eight points also or.. A free translation of this heraldic description is:

.On a silver background, a red cross bearing a golden lion in the centre and an eight pointed golden star on each arm..

New South Wales Coat of Arms

Coat of Arms NSWKing Edward VII approved the Coat of Arms in October 1906 with the following words: “Know ye therefore that We of Our Princely Grace and Special Favour have granted and assigned and by these Presents do grant and assign the following Armorial Ensigns and Supporters for the said State of New South Wales that is to say for Arms Azure a Cross Argent voided Gules charged in the centre chief point with a Lion passant guardant, and on each member with a Mullet of eight points Or between in the first and fourth quarters a Fleece of the last banded of the second and in the second and third quarters a Garb also Or: And for the ’Crest on a Wreath of the Coloursa Rising Sun each Ray tagged with a Flame of fire proper: And for the Supporters On the dexter side A Lion rampant guardant: And on the sinister side ’A Kangaroo both Or’,together with this Motto, ’Orta Recens Quam Pura Nites’.” The New South Wales State crest was gazetted on 18th February, 1876.

The central red cross, in a larger silver cross, is the Red Cross of St George, the old badge of the Colony. It is also the Navy flag badge and so recognises the contribution to our discovery and development of the work of such naval officers as Captain Cook and Governors Philip, Hunter, King and Bligh.

The four stars on the cross represent the Southern Cross, from earliest time a mariner’s guide in the south and referred to so often in our poetry and literature as anational symbol. The lion in the centre is the English Lion derived from the British Arms. The first and fourth quarterings are the Golden Fleece, a reference to our great achievement in the wool industry. The second and third quarterings are the Wheat Sheaf, representing our second and great primary industry. The crest, the Rising Sun, continues the use of our earliest colonial crest, representative of a newly rising country. The livery colours of the Arms, blue and white, mirror the States sporting colours. The right hand supporter, the Lion is a further recognition of the British origin of our first settlers and the continuing connection between New South Wales and Great Britain. For the left hand supporter, the use of the kangaroo is self explanatory.

It is our most distinctive animal, restricted almost entirely to Australia and adopted so often as an emblem of Australia. The motto of New South Wales “Orta recens quam pura nites” may be translated “Newly risen how brightly you shine” and, like the rising sun in the crest, is representative of our continuing progress and development.


New South Wales Floral Emblem

The botanical name for this plant, which has been adopted as the Floral Emblem for New South Wales is (Telopea speciossima), which comes from the Greek “Telopos” – seen from afar; and “Speciossima” from the Latin – very beautiful. No one knows the meaning to the native name “Waratah”.
The waratah bloom is actually a collection of small individual flowers, arranged in a dense cluster at the top of the stem and surrounded by bright red bracts. This colour and design attracts many native birds, which perch on the blossoms to drink the nectar, and pollinate the flowers in doing so.

In Aboriginal myth, the waratah with its nectar was much loved by the great hunter Wamili. When Wamili was struck blind by lightning the Kwinis, tiny bush spirits, made the cluster of small flowers of the waratah more rigid so the blind hunter could distinguish it by touch.

The waratah’s stiff, elongated leaves enhance its beauty. The leaves – like those of gum leaves – turn sideways to the sun to escape the full blaze of its heat.

The waratah is also greatly prized by gardeners. Under cultivation, it flowers even more richly and is a favourite at exhibitions. However, it should be noted that waratahs are protected by law and no part of the plant may be picked.

Proclaimed 1962.

New South Wales Bird Emblem

One of the most familiar sounds in the bush is the extraordinary chorus of laughter of the kookaburra or “Laughing Jackass” as it is sometimes called. It is usually heard in the morning and evening but also at any time through the day. The true function of this famous call is to advertise their territory. Unlike most of its kingfisher relatives, Kookaburras occupy the same patch of country all year round.
(Dacelo Novaeguineae) the great brown kingfisher is a bird of the forest edges and clearings as well as the more open savannah woodland country. They have probably benefited from clearing of the country by the white man (one of the few species which have) and have certainly adapted well to life in our towns and suburbs. They are quick to learn when easy “tucker” is available and will become quite tame if fed on raw meat. Unfortunately, they will also help themselves to fish in garden ponds and tend to frighten off the smaller birds.

Proclaimed 1971.

New South Wales Animal Emblem

Platypuses live in rivers and streams of eastern Australia as far north as Cape York in Queensland and south to Tasmania. They are one of the two egg-laying mammals or monotremes (the other is the echidna or spiny ant eater) which are only found in the Australasian region. They are well adapted for a life in water, since they have close, plush-like fur, a flattened tail and webbed feet.
They feed on freshwater yabbies, worms, insects and their larvae, and snails, nosing in the mud and gravel with their sensitive bills. The adult male has a poison spur on the heel of each hind foot. A person struck by the spur can become very ill displaying symptoms similar to a snake bite. Platypuses (Ornithorhynchus Anatinus) were once killed for their beautiful fur and the numbers and range of the animals fell alarmingly. Since given legal protection in the 1920s, their decline has been halted and they are now re-established in many areas. “The creature with a bill like a duck” is no longer in danger of extinction.

Proclaimed 1971.