Our Australian Flag

Monday, 26 January 1998 11:18

Many months ago, when I needed to reproduce the Australian flag on a web page, I saw a problem. The “problem” was with the medium, not the flag. Two of my clip art collections differed in their depiction of the flag (neither was accurate) and I didn’t like the way the stars were distorted when reduced to the desired size.

While driving to work, I was often held up at the traffic lights where the West Gate Freeway joins Kingsway. Directly opposite the Shell service station is a small business that meant well when it proudly displayed an “Australian” flag on its hoarding, but had grossly exceeded the bounds of artistic licence — every element in that flag was the wrong shape or size. [That business has closed and the flag has gone, thank goodness. 4/2001]

Sometimes, when I ate at my local RSL club, I wondered why the Australian flag on its restaurant’s chalkboard menu was allowed to get away with a rendition that differs markedly from a real flag on display across the room. [Now fixed. 1/1999]

Like many Aussies, a new flag was not high on my list of priorities, but the growing interest in this subject caught my attention. If we are going to change it, then I’d like to offer another point of view.

  • The present flag is difficult to draw for most people:
  • If some signwriters cannot “get it right”, what hope is there for the artistically challenged? Have you looked at your clip art lately? How much latitude should be allowed before a rendition insults the flag?
  • Is it OK to throw an approximation of the British flag and six stars more or less in the same place as the official design and call it an Australian flag?
  • Have you noticed the wandering Federation Star in different renditions?
  • What are the sizes and relative positions of the stars in the Southern Cross?
  • Is the British flag drawn correctly and at the correct relative size compared to the rest of the flag? The shapes and orientation of the red and white crosses are often a stumbling block. Click here for more confusion about the British flag. The NZ flag design has defined the British flag.
  • Compare these two images of the British flag. How many people know which is the correct depiction?

Union A and Union B

  • Our flag is difficult to reproduce at small sizes without loss of detail, particularly on the Web. See the current flag depictions below, taken from various clip art collections, assuming you can find the “right” one. (Ignore slight colour variations.)

Vote Now

Click on one of the depictions below that you think is the current Australian flag.

Click on one of the depictions below that you think is the current Australian flag.

View The Latest Results Here.

Aus A

Aus C

Aus M

Aus D

Aus F

Aus S

Aus G

Aus T

 

If Australia had to change its flag, which of the following designs would you prefer?

To vote, click on one of the new designs.

 

To vote, click on one of the new designs.

View The Latest Results Here.

Design 1

Design 2

Design 3

Design 4

Design 5

Design 6

Design 7

Design 8

 

My two designs were inspired by Canada’s simple, but striking flag, and my choice is the blue-and-white version at the top of this page. Here are some of my reasons:

  • The Federation/Commonwealth Star becomes the predominant element. An 8-pointed star allows for 8 states and the orientation depicted here hints at the crosses on the British flag. (The star on the current flag has seven points.) State flags could adopt this star in their designs.
  • The new design reduces well for Web depiction. The Southern Cross does not.
  • The Southern Cross is not unique to the Australian flag. NZ, PNG, and Western Samoa also use it. (Despite what a delegate said about colour blindness at the recent Constitutional Convention, the NZ flag is not “red”!)
  • The current and new flags both have a 1:2 height-to-width ratio and the new design will fit existing halyards easily.
  • The new design is symmetric, thus easy to remember and recognise from either side.
  • Its design is unlike any other flag in the world, whether depicted in monochrome or colour.
  • It is impossible to hoist the “wrong way up” (8-pointed star). This feature would be appreciated by many junior staff in the military.
  • The blue and white segments have a 1:2 ratio.
  • The new design is child’s play.
  • The new design lends itself to adaptation for the design of award regalia, RAAF roundels, cloth patches, lapel pins, etc.
  • It also lends itself to ASCII depiction in e-mail: ||*||
  • The colours of the current flag are retained in some versions. The designs at the left are less likely to be confused for the Canadian flag in a stiff breeze or when the flag is limp on a flagpole.
  • The red maple leaf of the Canadian flag has been borrowed for numerous other purposes that shout “Canada!” – the 8-pointed star can become a recognisable emblem and the 2000 Olympics is a perfect opportunity to achieve this.
  • The similarity of design to the Canadian flag also serves to show us as a sister country in the British Commonwealth.
roundel
Potential roundel for RAAF aircraft

Enter the “8 Flag”, shown at the top of this page. Will it become the new flag? As this is not a design submitted to Ausflag, I seriously doubt it, but I am happy to have made my statement. That situation is entirely because I became aware of the specifics of Ausflag competitions after they stopped accepting designs from the general population.

Child’s Play?

Can the “winning design” (from the other contests) be drawn by a 9-year-old? See instructions below for this one.Grid

Drawing the “8 Flag”

  • Draw a rectangle bounding a grid of 32 by 16 units (33 by 17 “dots”).
  • Divide the rectangle into four equal vertical segments. Combine the inner two, so we have three segments, A, B, and C, where B=A+C.
  • The outermost points of the star are three units away from the perimeter of segment B. The rest of the star is better described by the image above.

Variations

I don’t mind changing the orientation of the star, or whether we have 7 points or 8 points. Aesthetically, having a point at the top centre — the 12-o’clock position — is better and retaining the current 7-pointed star serves that end.

Why “8”

  • Eight states (including NT) = 8-pointed star.
  • Eureka Flag uses an 8-pointed star.
  • The grid is based on multiples of eight units.
  • The number 8 is considered lucky by many Australians.

Visitors to this site have a slight preference for a seven-pointed star and that is also fine by me.

Links

2 thoughts on “Our Australian Flag”

  1. I like your design, but I’m not Australian so I won’t get a vote. It’s not just the design (the look) of the Canadian maple leaf flag that made it successful. It is also the fact that it is rooted in Canadian symbology: the maple leaf, of course, but also the colours red and white are taken from the coat of arms. So I would suggest that you consider changing the Commonwealth Star (7 points) to gold with a blue background to correspond to the Australian coat of arms. The end pales could then be gold as well, or green if you want to have both the gold and blue of the coat of arms and the yellow and green national colours, or other colours to include the Aboriginals (red with black verticle stripe). I like the idea of sister Commonwealth countries having similar designs, a bit like the Scandanavian crosses on their flags. Good luck!

    1. Thanks for those good ideas. Several alternative designs have used some of those elements, but my intention was not to have a multi-colour design or borrow too many existing symbols. I haven’t visited this design since 1998 and will leave it as it stands. Most Australians aren’t fussed about changing the flag at the moment, but my other nationality (NZ) is currently talking about changing theirs. I expected them to be the last to change, as they are still very British in a lot of their bureaucracy and symbolism. I have a little poll on the earlier version of this site and you will see that most visitors like the blue and white version. http://crm911.com/flag/

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