Other Australian Flags


Flag Day Message from John Eales

Search for the Very First Australian Flag

  (See following article below for Anzac Day Flag Protocol)

   A nationwide search is underway for one of the most important pieces of Australian history – the original Australian Flag unveiled at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne in 1901.  The Australian National Flag Association has launched the search, saying it was time the first Australian Flag was located and preserved.

Flag Association President Allan Pidgeon said the original flag was reportedly given to a museum following its unveiling, but there are no records of which museum or where the flag may have been taken.

“It’s entirely possible that this precious piece of Australian history is in a community hall or museum, or possibly even in a private home, without anyone realising its significance,” Mr Pidgeon said.    “The Australian National Flag Association is asking all Australians to look closely at any old national flag they may have in their care, and to get in touch with us if they think it could be the very first Australian flag.

“The flag was first flown on the 3rd of September in 1901, following a nationwide competition which attracted entries from around one per cent of the population. “That would equate to around 240,000 entries in today’s Australia,” Mr Pidgeon said.   “Now, it’s time for a fresh national effort to find the flag that flew from the top of the Melbourne Exhibition Building that day.”

The winning design was unveiled by the wife of Australia’s first Governor General, the Countess of Hopetoun, in a ceremony reported in the Melbourne Age: 

As Lady Hopetoun entered, a huge Blue Ensign with the prize design of the Southern Cross and a six-pointed star thereon was run up to the top of the flagstaff on the dome and, breaking, streamed out on the heavy south-westerly breeze, a brave and inspiring picture.

Mr Pidgeon said the six-pointed Commonwealth star mentioned in the media report, which represented the original states, gained an extra point in 1908; with the seventh point representing the territories.

“This will be one of the first clues to identifying the original Australian Flag. Also, we are looking for a big flag - based on reports at the time, we believe that the first flag was about 11 metres by 5.5 metres in size.   “We invite anyone who might have an idea about what happened to the flag to contact us via This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it ,” Mr Pidgeon said. 

Although more than 115 years have passed since the flag’s last known sighting, Mr Pidgeon said ANFA was optimistic about the chances of locating the original.

“Just last year, the flag that had been draped across the grave of Breaker Morant in 1902 was found on a rubbish tip outside Tenterfield.   “So there’s every chance that the original Australian flag is also sitting unnoticed somewhere.  If so, it’s time to find it and give it the recognition and respect it deserves.

“We hope that there might be someone whose ancestor ended up with custody of the flag, or who has found a flag that looks significant, so that we can locate the historic first Australian flag and put it on public display.”

Anyone with information about the first Australian flag is invited to contact the Australian Flag Association on This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it



  We have been receiving queries about appropriate flag protocol for Anzac Day commemorations - particularly when flying the Australian flag with other flags including the NZ flag. There has also been uncertainty about how and when to fly the flags at half-mast.

Flags are flown at half-mast as a sign of mourning. The half-mast position will depend on the size of the flag and the length of the flagpole. The flag must be lowered to a position recognisably half-mast to avoid the appearance of a flag which has accidentally fallen away from the top of the flagpole. An acceptable position would be when the top of the flag is a third of the distance down from the top of the flagpole. 

In relation to Anzac Day the Australian National Flag (ANF is to be flown at half mast from sunrise until 1200 hours on Anzac Day. However, during individual Anzac Day ceremonies, the ANF is to be half masted and then raised to the peak during the playing of ‘Reveille’ at the conclusion of the service. 

The flag should never be flown at half-mast at night even if it is illuminated. When flying the Australian National Flag with other flags, all flags in the set should be flown at half-mast. The Australian National Flag should be raised first and lowered last.

Flag order of precedence

The Australian National Flag takes precedence in Australia over all other flags when it is flown in company with other flags.

The flag order of precedence is as follows:

1.     ANF,

2.     other nation’s national flags* in alphabetical order, e.g. New Zealand, United Kingdom, and United States,

3.     State flags (NSW, VIC, QLD, SA, WA and TAS),

4.     Territory flags (ACT and NT),

5.     Other flags prescribed by the Flags Act 1953, e.g. Australian Aboriginal Flag and Torres Strait Islander Flag,

6.     Australian Defence Force Ensign (ADFE),

7.     Australian White Ensign (AWE),

8.     Royal Australian Air Force Ensign (RAAF Ensign), and

9.     Merchant Marine. 


 In the absence of a flag or flags higher in the order, a flag shall follow the flag being flown that is higher in the order.

The order of precedence does not require that a flag listed in the order must be flown in company with other flags in the order. 

*Should it be the custom to fly the flags of other nations at your flag station, it would be appropriate to seek permission from the diplomatic representatives of that nation to half-mast their flag. 

Acknowledgement: Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet, Department of Defence.


For information about flag protocol and etiquette,
 look under the "How To Fly the Flag" tab on this site.
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The Australian National Flag
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Flag History Timeline

Click a specific section on the timeline below to view further flag details for that era.

 1901-1919  1920-1939 1940-1959



 Fly our Flag with Pride!

 Few Australians know the unique and proud story of our flag –the only national flag to fly over an entire continent, but also the first to be chosen in an open public competition. Following federation in 1901, the new Commonwealth government arranged a competition to choose a flag for the new nation, and entries were submitted from nearly 1% of the population at that time. Five people tied for the honour of designing the Australian flag - Annie Dorrington, Ivor Evans, Leslie Hawkins, Egbert Nuttall, and William Stevens.  The winning design was unveiled on 3 September, which has been officially proclaimed as Australian National Flag Day. 


We’re all proud of our country and we can fly our flag to show it!


Historical Australian Flags