Murrawarri Republic, since 2013
The Murrawarri people of Australia declared an independent republic earlier this month. I doubt we’re going to see a new country born any time soon, but we’ve at least gotten an interesting new flag out of it. The brown and blue stripes represent earth and sky, or the people and water. The white star represents ancestral spirits which return to the earth on shooting stars, and it has eight points for the eight Murrawarri clans.
Missing camp- the flags represent the nationalities of campers and staff
Governor of South Australia, 1870-1876
South Australia’s first flag was a blue ensign with the Southern Cross and its two pointer stars, Alpha and Beta Centauri. The governor’s flag, adopted at the same time, used a different badge: the southern cross on a black disc.
Why black? Well I mean it stands to reason right? That is the colour of the night sky after all. A better question would be how come so many flags have their stars on blue.
In 1853, a paddle steamer named the Mary Ann journeyed down Australia’s longest river. It was the first steamboat on the Murray, and when it arrived at Goolwa a flag was raised in its honour. A written description of that flag survived: It had four blue stripes, a Union Jack in the upper left corner, and a red cross with five stars on it.
160 years later, two different reconstructions of that flag are flown by ships in Murray–Darling basin. The Upper Murray flag (top) is flown in Victoria and New South Wales, while the Lower Murray Flag (bottom) is flown in South Australia. Both flags feature all the elements from the written description, but each interpretation is slightly different.
The two flags have also taken on different meanings. The stars on the Upper Murray flag are sometimes said to represent five major floods, while the stripes on the Lower Murray flag symbolize the Murray, Darling, Murrumbidgee, and Goulburn rivers.
Fiji (proposed), 2013
Kevin Barr, an Australian-born catholic priest and 32-year resident of Fiji, stirred up a bit of a tempest last month when he jokingly suggested replacing the Union Jack on the Fijian flag with the flag of China.
That little jab pissed off Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, who had indicated in a New Year’s Address that he planned to change the flag. The Commodore personally sent Barr a series of angry texts and phone calls, calling him a “fucked up priest” and threatening to deport him. But after some public outcry and the intervention of the Australian High Commission, the Fijian government stood down.
(designer: Father Kevin Barr)
Australia (proposed sporting flag), 2013
Australia Day was this past weekend, and the AusFlag organization took the opportunity to propose a new Australian sporting flag. AusFlag has made a number of proposals to change the national flag in the past, but this is the first time they’ve tried this more modest tactic.
Of course, Australia already has an unofficial sporting flag, the much-loved boxing kangaroo. Like this proposal, it uses the Australian national colours of green and gold. Time will tell if this new flag can take its place.
(designer: Dr. Anthony Gooley)
Canada (proposed, 1895)
“The advocates of a maple leaf do not seem to recognize that such an emblem only symbolizes weakness and decay; they regard Summer beauty as everything, and overlook the fact that a floral decoration is not at home “in the battle and the breeze,” that storm and tempest so familiar to us seafaring people is not the place for a fragile leaf or wreath of leaves.”
— “NEW FLAG FOR THE DOMINION.; CANADA WISHES TO HAVE A DISTINCTIVE EMBLEM”, The New York Times, 13 August 1895, p. 4.
Originally from the Halifax Morning Herald, this 19th century article isn’t just opposed to the the maple leaf as a national symbol, but also the 1868 red ensign (“not distinguishable at any distance”), and the beaver (“belongs to the same family (rodents) as rats and mice”).
Instead, it endorses a proposal by Sir Sandford Fleming, a.k.a. the time zone guy. He wanted the Canadian flag to feature a seven-pointed north star, with each point representing a province. If this idea sounds familiar, it’s because the Australians used the exact same symbol on their flag only a few years later.
The idea of a north star flag popped up again in the 1930s but it didn’t get much traction. By that time the maple leaf was firmly ensconced as Canada’s national symbol, objections of seafaring people notwithstanding.
Northern Territory (1978-Present)
Most Australian states have simple blue ensigns for flags. The Northern Territory’s flag is on a different model, with the Southern Cross in a panel on the left and the territory’s floral emblem (a Sturt’s Desert Rose) in a field on the right. The flag has no blue on it anywhere, instead using the territorial colours of black, white, and ochre. The Australian Capital Territory adopted a flag on this model in 1993, and there have been proposals for other states to follow suit.
Today is Flag Day in Australia, commemorating the first raising of the Australian flag on 3 September 1901. The Commonwealth Star in the lower left corner originally only had six points, representing the six states. In 1908, a seventh point was added to represent the Territory of Papua and all future states and territories.
M&M’s Flags, Part 1
This year, Mars brought out limited edition red, white, and blue peanut M&M’s to celebrate the jubilee and the Olympics and general Britishness. It got me wondering… How many countries could Mars flog this product to?
I attempted 21 of a possible 30, the following NOT being included, as they were too hard:
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- Luxembourg (same layout as the Netherlands flag, but different shade of blue)
Sorry for the rubbish quality.
If Scotland became independent, what would happen to Australia and New Zealand’s flags (since their designs have the Union Jack, which uses a blue background and white saltire to represent Scotland)?
Nothing. Australia and New Zealand are fully independent countries and they can have any flag they want. They would have the option of altering their flag, but they wouldn’t have to if they didn’t want to (and if they were going to go through the trouble of changing their flags it would probably be to something entirely different.)
I also don’t imagine the United Kingdom would change its flag even if Scotland gained independence. The Union Flag is a classic design with a lot of history behind it, and from what I understand it’s pretty well-loved in Britain.