The Australian National Flag was born on 3 September 1901, nine months after Federation – the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia.

The Australian Flag. Photo: D O’Neil, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The Commonwealth Government announced a competition to design the National Flag in April 1901, receiving 32,823 entries across the country and New Zealand.

Five almost identical entries, including one 14-year-old Ivor Evans, were chosen for the winning design – of ‘stars and crosses’.

Prime Minister Edmund Barton announced the winners of a competition to design our national flag, measuring 5.5 metres by 11 metres, which was first flown above the dome of the Exhibition Building in Melbourne.

The stars of the Southern Cross were standardised in 1903 with the four large stars with 7 points and the smaller one with five points.

King Edward VII officially approved the Australian flag (blue ensign) and a Red Ensign for Merchant Navy shipping in February 1903.

The original flag, known as the Blue Ensign, was different from the present-day one which dates back to 1908, as the Commonwealth Star below the Union Jack was changed from 6 to 7 points to represent all states and territories.

Royal Assent. King Edward VII officially approved the Australian Flag in 1903.

The Australian flag was used for the first time during World War I when it was flown over Queenscliff Fort in Victoria, when it fired the first shot during the Great War to prevent the German steamer Pfalz, from leaving the port.

Ever since, the Australian flag has been flown during all times of conflict, especially during the two World Wars.

Governor-General Sir William Deane formally proclaimed 3 September as Australian National Flag Day in 1996.

The Five Winners

  • Leslie J Hawkins from Sydney
  • Ivor Evans, Melbourne
  • E (Bert) J Nutall, Melbourne
  • William Stevens, Auckland
  • Annie Dorrington, Perth
Anzac army slouch hat with Australian Flag and Poppy on wooden background.

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