The flag of Australia consists of a blue field with the Union Jack in the upper hoist quarter (canton), and a large white seven-pointed star, known as the Commonwealth Star in the lower hoist quarter. On the blue field toward the fly end lies a representation of the Southern Cross constellation, made up of five white stars – one small five-pointed star and four larger seven-pointed stars. The dimensions of the flag are a bit unusual, as the flag is twice as long as it is wide. The flag has been in use since September 3, 1901, which is Australia’s official Flag Day.
Australia’s flag came into being after a National Flag competition was held in 1901. The competition was conducted by the Melbourne Herald and the Review of Reviews, with prize money of 200 pounds, which was a yearly salary of an average worker at that time. It received a fascinating response as there were nearly 33,000 entries. Arranging all the entries took 8 weeks and the competition was judged in days. When the winning flag design was chosen, a review of the entries revealed that five people submitted almost identical designs. All five people were declared joint winners and shared the prize money.
The symbolism of the three elements on the Australian flags is as follows:
The Union Jack represents the link of Australia with the British, and the principles and ideas flowing from the British heritage of European settlers; including parliamentary democracy, the rule of law, freedom of speech and the rights and responsibilities of citizens.
The Commonwealth Star consists of seven points representing the unity of the six states and the 7th point stands for the federal territories which together constitute the nation, the Commonwealth of Australia.
The Constellation of the Southern Cross is shown on the flag in white, and indicates their geographical location, which can only be seen from the Southern hemisphere. The Southern Cross has been associated with the continent since its earliest days. The constellation of stars relates to the various indigenous legends and reminds them of their rich and precious Aboriginal and Torres Strait heritage.
A couple of interesting facts about flag of Australia, is that it is the only national flag to be chosen in an open public competition, and it’s the only national flag to fly over and entire continent.