Flag Designers

Ivor William Evans
William Stevens
Leslie John Hawkins
Egbert John Nuttall
Annie Whistler Dorrington

Ivor William Evans

On 1st January 1901, six separate British colonies federated as a new and independent country. The Commonwealth of Australia officially flew the flag of the British Empire as well as the popular but unofficial Australian Federation Flag until a nationwide competition to design a new flag was held. The prize money was two hundred pounds, which, today, is roughly equivalent to four years' average wages - a great deal of money indeed.

There were five finalists with identical designs. One of the designers was Ivor Evans, a fourteen year old schoolboy. Ivor had very clear ideas about what his flag meant and what he intended it to say about Australia and Australians. He believed that the Southern Cross, the brightest constellation in the Southern Hemisphere, was representative of Australia's bright future as a leading nation. However there was another reason 
for his choice of the Southern Cross. The poet, Dante, wrote about four bright stars which symbolised the four moral virtues of justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude - principles that Australians should live up to.

The Commonwealth Star was another significant symbol. Its six points represented the six newly federated states. In 1908 a seventh point was added to represent all the Federal Territories which, today, include the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory, The Cocos Islands and the Australian Antarctic Territory.
 
Ivor believed that the flag of the United Kingdom, Great Britain, had a place on Australia's flag because of the historical links between our island continent and the British isles. Australia had been colonised by the British in 1788, and one of the first things they did on Australian soil was raise the Union Jack. The flag has been part of our history ever since. Ivor believed that its "honourable place" on the Australian flag recognised this fact - a new nation paying respect to its origins.

Ivor Evans made a flag that he filled with symbols of his hopes for the nation's future. They were his call to the citizens of a brand new country to rise to the challenge of independent nationhood. But he did not forget the past when he incorporated those very same designs, symbolic of Australia's history and geography, into the flag that would represent her all round the world.

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William Stevens

William Stevens was a merchant ship’s officer from Auckland New Zealand at the time of the Federal Flag competition in 1901. William was born in 1866 in Otago New Zealand. He died on 20 March 1928 and is buried at Purwera Cemetery, Auckland New Zealand.

Detailed records of William’s Australian Flag design are preserved in the Turnbull library in New Zealand.

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Leslie John Hawkins

Leslie John Hawkins was a teenager apprenticed to a Sydney optician at the time of the Federal Flag competition in 1901. He was born on 19 February 1883 in Petersham New South Wales. Leslie died on 11 June 1966 and is buried at Fawkner Cemetery, Melbourne Victoria.

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Egbert John Nuttall

Egbert John Nuttall was an architect with the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works at the time of the Federal Flag competition in 1901. He was born on 22 May 1866 at Growlers Creek Victoria. This location is now the town of Bright. Egbert died on 13 February 1963 and was cremated. His ashes are interred at Springvale Cemetery, Victoria.

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Annie Whistler Dorrington

Unquestionably the accidental discovery of the unmarked grave of co-designer of the Australian National Flag, Annie Whistler Dorrington, in Karrakatta Cemetery has been a highlight of 1998/9 for ANFA (WA). Half a year later, she now lies beneath a handsome monument befitting a woman who contributed much to our Australian heritage.

Annie was born in 1866, the daughter of Richard and Sarah Whistler of Foliejon Farm, Winkfield, Berkshire, England. Richard was a tenant farmer on the Foliejon Estate whose history dated back to the 1300s, and which adjoins Windsor Great Park.

Annie spent a happy childhood at the farm with her six sisters and two brothers, riding their donkey, skating on the lake which froze in winter and teasing the old farmhand Ned, a veteran of the Battle of Waterloo. The children often glimpsed Queen Victoria riding through the park in her carriage. Later Annie and some of her sisters enjoyed painting scenes on the banks of the River Thames nearby.

The family claimed relationship with the famous American painter, James Mc Neil Whistler, but this has yet to be conclusively proved. 

In 1887 Annies father died at the age of 52 and three years later, in 1890, Sarah Whistler emigrated to Melbourne, Victoria. She brought out all her nine children on the steamship SS Britannia. Shipboard life was their first introduction to electric light! It was an act of great courage for a widow with such a large family to take a leap to the other side of the world.

On arrival in Melbourne the Whistlers made their home in Dandenong Road and all set about earning a living. Frank, one of Annies brothers, set off to WA soon after to the goldfields and later, with Harry Dorrington, pioneered land in the Merredin district. The farming gene survives - a number of Whistlers still farm at Merredin and in other parts of WA.

Stepping back in time for a moment - at the time of Annies fathers death at Foliejon, it was necessary to appoint a bailiff to run the farm. The day the bailiff arrived, the sisters were all agog and pestering their mother as to what his name was. She replied rather tersely, It could be Ahasuerus for all I know! (Ahasuerus was a King in Ancient Persia). From then on the bailiff, Charles Dorrington, was known as Asu for short - and Annie used the nom de plume, Ahasuerus for her winning entry in the National Flag competition.

Charles and Harry Dorrington had also emigrated to Melbourne, and in 1892 Charles married Annie at St Albans Church in Armadale, Victoria. Charles and Annie moved across to the West in 1895, where Charles was initially manager of the Swan River Shipping Company and later shire clerk at Mundijong. Annie, about as far away on earth as one could get from the lush green meadows of Berkshire, found great beauty in her new environment - especially its wildflowers. Apart from her winning entry in the Flag Competition of 1901, her legacy to us is the one hundred and twenty-four exquisite wildflower paintings held by the Art Gallery of WA, four of which are currently displayed in the WA section of the Gallery.

Annie and Charles had no children and apart from painting busily we know that Annie also taught others to paint. Despite seeing great beauty about her Annie, sadly, suffered periods of depression, and died of cancer in 1926 at the age of 60. Despite the periods of unhappiness in her life we can cling to the belief in the great pleasure she undoubtedly gained from painting.

Halfway through 1998 Eric Carpenter, tireless Flag volunteer, noticed a car flying an Australian Flag in the Perth suburb of Balga. Seeing the same car in a supermarket carpark a few days later, he waylaid the owner, who turned out to be Lesley Little, daughter of Annies cousin, Mrs Thelma Prestwood. So it was that the Association came to know of Annie lying close at hand in an unmarked grave at Karrakatta, and also learned that the Cemetery Board had been apprised of the significance of Annies grave by her niece, Kath Dowsing. The challenge was impossible to resist!

After gaining approval from Annies surviving relatives (nieces and nephews) and of the Cemetery Board, the lease was renewed by the Association and a handsome monument now stands on the previously bare sand. None of this could have occurred without trust and goodwill from the relatives, great co-operation from the Cemetery Board, some very generous donors and the efforts of the Flag Association volunteers!

When you visit Annies grave (soon to be featured in the Karrakatta Historical Walk Trail) you will be impressed by the fine work of Claremont Monumental Works, the excellence of the Admiralty bronze plaque and the superb ceramic tile Flag, which was wrought by Ms Jodi Stone of Ceramica with lots of love and for a pittance!

The memorial grave was consecrated by the Dean of Perth, Dr John Shepherd, on a sunny day on 20th April, 1999, in a moving Service where the music was supplied by a brass ensemble from St Hildas. Relatives from far and wide, (Gippsland, NSW etc.), Flag Councillors, ANFA officials from other States, volunteer workers, donors, Cemetery Board representatives and friends of the Flag, in all numbering about a hundred people, were present. We believe we have guarded well this important part of our heritage.


Published by the Australian National Flag Association (WA) (Inc)

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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!