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Nationwide hunt for the very first Australian flag

MEDIA RELEASE

Nationwide hunt for the very first Australian flag

January 24, 2017

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.

Australian National Flag Association has launched the search in the leadup to Australia Day, 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 – not to design a new flag, but to find that 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 .  Further details at www.australianflag.net.au.

Media contact:  SAS Media and Communications – 0467 792 013

 
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FLY OUR FLAG WITH PRIDE!

 

 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!

 

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