Australia’s National Colours: Green, Gold and More

If you’ve been to Australia, you might notice the colours green and gold stand out quite a bit around the country.

That’s because green and gold are regarded as the national colours of Australia. Both colours arguably symbolise what it means to be uniquely Australia and Australian on different levels.

Green and gold, the colours of Australia.

Green and gold, the colours of Australia.

There are a few reasons behind how green and gold came to be the colours of this country, and these reasons are tied with history and events of today.

For a long time there were no official national colours in Australia. Historically blue, gold and green were commonly used to represent the nation. It wasn’t until 19 April 1984 that green and gold were formally recognised as our national colours, formally proclaimed by then Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen on advice from then-Prime Minister Bob Hawke.

Green and gold has long been associated with Australia’s national sporting achievements and competitions. Australia’s cricket team, the Socceroos, the Matildas and really most Australian sporting teams don green and gold uniforms when they play international matches. Our cricket team was the very first national sporting team to wear the colours– namely in the form of the baggy green (dark green cricket cap) during the Ashes tour of England in 1899.

Green and gold are relatively bright colours, and it’s not hard to spot to these colours on players on field during a match. Similarly it’s not hard to spot the typical Aussie fan and cheer squads in the stands; many Aussie sporting spectators are not shy of wearing green and gold as they cheer on Australia at sporting events. There’s the Green and Gold Army: Australia’s premier football support network supporting our soccer teams playing abroad, organising tours traveling alongside these teams with green and gold tour scarves, hats and other memorabilia.

Australian sporting tops.

Australian sporting tops.

It’s not hard to find Aussie cheer squad merchandise at souvenir shops in Australia. Think green and gold jerseys, tank tops, banners, flags, scarves, capes, towels, umbrellas and more. The other day I was wandering around a souvenir shop in the city and noticed one such green and yellow polo shirts cost around $15-30 per piece – and the more you buy, the better the price. To be honest these shirts seemed great in terms of quality, not thin and not see-through…but with bright colours that looked ready to run in the wash.

More specifically, the colours green and gold are symbolic of Aussie sporting pride and entertainment, symbolic of national pride and togetherness through friendly rivalry, and what some might call ‘mateship’.

Green and gold is also associated with the golden wattle, Australia’s floral emblem. Also known as the acacia pycnantha, the plant is a shrub around 6-8 metres tall with dense clusters of yellow flowers and is native to south-eastern parts of Australia. It’s a flower is capable of withstanding the harsh Australian weather in the face of droughts and winds. Around the time of Federation in 1901, there was heightened interest in the Australian environment. The Wattle Club in Victoria held Wattle Day demonstrations each September to encourage recognition of the flower as a mark of patriotism.

The golden wattle was formally proclaimed the national emblem at Australia’s bicentenary on 19 August 1988. The golden wattle, and in turn green and gold, is symbolic of patriotism, resilience and unity of the people of Australia.

Canola fields.

Canola fields.

Think of green and gold, think of Australia’s abundant natural surroundings. There’s Australia’s blazing sun. Abundance of beaches and sand. Lush lawns and grass across wineries. Eucalyptus trees and over 92 million acres of eucalyptus forest and bushlands. Over the years, I’ve spent time roaming many an Aussie beach, tanned (and baked and burnt) under many summer suns, trekked through grassland alongside kangaroos, danced on grass and fell down and rolled on that grass…

Consequently, the mineral gold makes up a significant part of Australia’s history. In the 1800s, gold mines were discovered and this led to a series of gold rushes around Australia. The promise of gold attracted locals and migrants to relocate to these prosperous areas. A green and gold Australia: a visually stunning abundant place, riches right below Aussie soil, the lucky country for some.

Green and gold are two colours synonymous with a number of Australia’s flags and official symbols, colours arguably part of the nation’s identity. There’s the Golden Wattle Flag which was designed to represent strength and unity of Australia. The Boxing Kangaroo Flag is displayed and paraded at Australian sporting events, considered our sporting flag’ so to speak. The Bicentennial Flag comprises a yellow outline of Australia against a green backdrop, and both the Christmas Island and Cocos Island flags bear similar colours.

Flag of Australia

Flag of Australia

A lot of the time national flags correspond to a country’s national colours. That’s not the case with Australia, and there has been talk the colour blue could be our national colour too. Australia’s national flag is blue, red and white: based on the Blue Ensign with the British Union Jack. The Australian Aboriginal flag is made up of the colours black, red and yellow. Up until the 1984 proclamation, there was debate on whether Australia’s national colours should be a combination of blue, green and gold. After all, the Commonwealth Coat of Arms prominently features gold and a bit of blue. The Order of Australia medals awarded to Australians who demonstrate meticulous service are medals primarily of gold and blue. In addition, the Australian passport is a navy blue colour.

One can argue Australia probably did away with blue as a national colour as this colour has ties with British ensigns. Perhaps not much of a surprise given Australia broke away from British settlement and every now and then there are proposals about incorporating green and gold (alongside doing away with the Southern Cross) into a redesigned Aussie flag. Flags, symbols and colours are not just represent our shared values, but at times also our political associations and allegiances too – playing upon sensitivities which we often don’t see eye to eye with.

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In Australia it’s common to see local retailers cashing in on the green and gold to market and sell what they have to offer. Colour is essentially branding and power, and a study on brand and identity showed that choice of colour can increase brand recognition by up to 80%. Australian food chains, grocery chains and the tourism sector commonly adopt green and gold as part of their campaigns. Time and time again KFC turns green and gold to support Aussie cricket in the summer: some KFC stores were painted green and gold in 2013-2014 and in 2017 there was the HCG Buckethead Army campaign where gold and camo-coloured KFC buckets were sold in store. The Sunshine Coast ran a tourism campaign during the 2018 Commonwealth Games enticing tourists to swap ‘gold’ for ‘green’ – that is, enticing tourists to enjoy the state’s greener pastures such as the beaches, lush hinterland and local food scenes.

The other day I was walking down the potato chip aisle at Woolworths and saw packets of limited edition Snag and Sauce flavoured potato chips. The potato chip packets were green and gold, probably in the spirit of Australia Day which is just around the corner. Also, the other day a friend of mine in Malaysia showed me a tin of Milo he bought – on the tin was the green and gold Australian Made logo, and my friend wondered if this Milo was better than the made-in-Malaysia Milo.

Milo.

Milo.

Thus, green and gold are arguably colours emotionally tied to many Australians. They are colours you may see a bit more every day here, maybe more when you grocery shop or looking for your next best travel destination around Australia. They are colours that symbolise proud, distinctive Aussie character and values, proudly and uniquely Australian.

Green and gold were colours I actually remember quite clearly growing up. When I was five and went to pre-school, the school uniform at my school was either a green and gold checkered dress or a yellow top and green pants. Though in (international) high school my class was allowed to wear jeans every day, I had friends from other (state) schools wearing green or blue coloured uniforms.

Back then as a kid in pre-school, I didn’t have an issue with my green and gold school uniform. I did note it was a rather bright coloured uniform in contrast to the plain white blouse and navy blue skirt uniform I wore for primary school in Singapore. In Australia, each school outlines its uniform code; uniform colours might be chosen according to a school logo’s colours (my pre-school’s logo just so happened to be green and gold), and these days school uniforms are designed to make students feel like that they belong.

Uluru art.

Uluru art.

Notably, there are Australian state colours. That is, different states in Australia formally associate with different colours when it comes to representing themselves, and certain colours have become associated with certain states through popular use. For instance, Victoria’s colour is navy (maybe black as well since many Melbournians like wearing black clothes), NSW’s is blue and white and Queensland is maroon – colours which are commony seen during sporting games between states. While green and gold might symbolise who Australians are on a national and global scale, state colours are colours that might mean a closer connection to home.

At the end of the day, colours are what we see all around us. They might touch us emotionally, and certain colours might bring us closer to certain people and places.

What colours do you associate with Australia?

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211 thoughts on “Australia’s National Colours: Green, Gold and More

  1. Colours play a significant role even for countries. Nice and informative post as always, Mabel. Even Australian cricket jerseys are gold and green.
    The canola field looks very much like a mustard field. I think both belong to the same group of plants.

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    • So true colours play a significant role for countries. If I’m not mistaken, green is one of the colour’s of India’s flag 🙂 You are right. The canola fields do look like a mustard field. So similar 🙂

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  2. Such a delightful blog post and photos. I enjoyed my visit. My husband and I actually enjoy watching some Australian program on television. Netflix also featured a new series called Pine Gap and supposedly set in Australian but included the UK and US. I love hearing different accents. Travel is a great educator as well.

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    • Thank you so much for your time, Mary. Much appreciated. That sounds interesting Australian programs you and your husband are watching there. Pine Gap reminds me of an earth station in Australia. You are so right. Travel is indeed a great educator, and there is so much to learn from traveling.

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      • As a retired German educator of almost 50 yrs. I was fortunate to receive a couple of Fulbright Grants to teach in Germany which I did and both times brought our children. I studied three years in Heidelberg so was able to travel during university holidays. What languages do you speak?

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        • Amazing to hear you received those grants and taught in Germany. It sounded like a great experience, both the teaching and travel. My first language is English, and I am fluent in Bahasa Melayu, and I speak some Mandarin and Cantonese.

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                  • Some of my languages are not spoken any longer: Old Norse, Middle High German, Latin but there is value in learning these. My other languages are German and French and I enjoy reading in both and listening to foreign television programs. Sometimes we hear familiar words in Norwegian and Swedish programs. Fascinating indeed.

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                    • It is amazing you had the privilege of learning those languages. Leaning languages is one way to preserve them. An astute observation there in how some words in different languages sound similar. Sometimes I speak Cantonese, and it’s interesting to note how quite a few colloquial Cantonese terms are actually based of the phonetics of English terms.

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                    • Languages are cool! It is so wonderful to try different ones too. My husband is practicing Czech and Slovak for August when we travel to Prague to sing Dvorak’s Stabat Mater in Latin at the Castle with the Berkshire Choral International. When I hear Cantonese, I hear a sing-song with vowels. Maybe it’s my musical training speaking. Polish is another language we sang in and which I recall as a child in Massachusetts when my grandmother and relatives still spoke Polish. It is so astute of you to remark that it is a privilege to learn other languages. It is indeed. Now my thirst is partially satisfied with the MHz channel and foreign television. When I listen in German, I notice the subtitles are not always accurate. Have a great week and weekend.

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                    • Oh wow, you get to sing Dvorak’s Stabat Mater in Latin with a choir. Amazing. Sounds like regular practice and I’m guessing you and your husband might want to sing without looking at a sheet, in a foreign language nonetheless 🙂 Hopefully you get much out of MHz and pick out the subtitles that aren’t accurate, It shows you know your languages well 🙂

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                    • I am amused by your comment about languages. I hope I know some of them well. 🙂 When we sing in Prague, it is with an orchestra and our music will be held in black folders. We are not expected to memorize the music but to know it before we arrive. The conductor is from Austria, and he may make some changes when we rehearse. Last year I sang Haydn’s The Seasons which was 286 pages long. We sang mainly in English but our conductor decided to have us sing some of the parts in German! Oh happy day for me! Mabel, I don’t know if I could even memorize such a long piece today. Maybe parts of it. Do you play an instrument? On my bucket list is to hear an opera at the Sydney Opera House. Have you ever?

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                    • It’s good to know the music before you arrive. After all, I guess all of you want to showcase art and you got to do your part 🙂 Sounds like you know your classical pieces. I took piano lessons as a kid (ended up being better at theory than practical), and play a bit of guitar. For a brief moment I was tasked to play the sole triangle in the school orchestra. Never got the technique right (triangle kept spinning!) but it really taught me no part is too small when it comes to playing together in symphony.

                      Maybe one day you will visit Australia and see the Sydney Opera House. Never listened to an Opera there, but have been right up outside it 😀

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                    • Lucky you to have been outside the Sydney Opera House. I love all the angles and imagine the acoustics are fantastic too. I studied classical piano for about 14 years and studied it for 2.5 years at the university before I decided to study in Germany. I still played piano all the years I taught German. Sometimes professionally as the church organist and choir director. You are correct in that no part is too small. Singing Beethoven’s Ninth is challenging as a soprano, but I’m trying. I love classical music and now singing in a choral setting has new challenges and is satisfying for the spirit. Do you still have a piano? It must have been hard to keep it tuned with such humidity. An electric piano is probably the solution.

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                    • That is lovely piano and classical music spoke to you, Not sure of the kind of lessons you took, but the piano lessons I took were very rote focused (which I do feel is necessary for scales and fingering practice). Actually I still have an upright piano at home after all these years. I don’t miss learning it, but I do miss playing a bit. It is amazing you play professionally with the organist and choir director. Everyone has to be in tune and in time together with little practice. Good work 🙂

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                    • My days of being the choir director and pianist/organist in several states and churches are long gone. I enjoy just playing for relaxation or to learn new spots in technically difficult pieces. Scales and Hanon exercises are good in keeping fingers nimble. We have a Baldwin upright which I need to get tuned. Thank you for such a lovely comment. Life is an interesting journey!

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  3. I associate Australia with the colours green and gold because of the cricket team. 🙂 We haven’t visited Australia yet and it’s always good to learn so much about it from you. The Cannola fields are very similar to the ones in Korea. Beautiful pictures, Mable.

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  4. I had no idea! Didn’t pick up on this at all during my 6-month stay in Australia…likely because we were distracted with The Captain’s cancer treatment.

    I always thought the national colors in Australia were the same as the flag colors just as they are in the USA.

    I think that it makes sense for Australia to redesign the flag to incorporate the green and gold but I’d be sad to see the Southern Cross go!

    I particularly like your shot of the Canola Fields and the Uluru Mural. The Smith Chips packages are making me hungry! Will Mr. Wobbles share his pack with me?

    Big hugs to the entire Wobbles crew.

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    • Maybe one day Australia will undergo a flag change. There is so much debate about it. We can all agree on the national colours of Australia though, and no one seems to have an issue with green and gold.

      The Uluru mural is absolutely stunning, and it captured so many colours. Mr Wobble is happy to share his chips with you any time, any day. He always has chips in stock for you, The Captain and Amandla. Big hugs right back at you 🙉🍟🌊⛵💙✌

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  5. Wonderfully informative post, Mabel! I really love learning new things about other cultures, and especially from places as far away as yours! I had no idea about the national colors of Australia and loved reading about their background. I really like that they´re also inspired by this beautiful and resilient flower. Nature does inspire, doesn’t it? I have to admit that the colors that come to my mind first when I think of Australia are red – like the earth around Uluru – and grey, because I´m currently busy crocheting a koala! 😀 But I realize that there´s of course much, much more to your country than these impressions. If I let my mind wander a bit, I come to blue because of the beautiful ocean surrounding your country and continent, and the amazing Great Barrier Reef. And green again when I look north because of the Rain Forests. Perlescent white and pink when I think of the foregone pearl industry. And and and…. 😀 Probably will think about this the rest of the day now! LOL! Have a lovely weekend, Mabel!

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    • Australia is indeed a faraway place from Germany! And you know what Uluru is 😀 So much to learn about Australia, and so much to learn about your country too. Nature inspires so much, and I am sure it has inspired many of your paintings and watercolours. You have a vivid imagination there, Sarah. Very apt. Blue skies and blue seas surround Australia on sunny days. We have greenery up north. Pearling still goes on in Broome, west and north-west of Australia…such a bigger country than many people think 🙂

      So cute you a crocheting a koala! Hope that goes well and it gets a good home. This week the yarns I ordered arrived. So eager to pick up the crochet hook. But first some blog and book writing lol. Have a good weekend ❤

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      • So happy for you that your crocheting yarn has arrived! I know you’ll have lots of fun! 🙂
        Yes, nature takes up a huge part in my art, and life in general even though I live in a city. There´s that dream of mine to live one day on a small farm with my own animals. 😉
        May I ask what kind of book you´re writing? Fiction or Non-fiction? Wishing you lots of energy to work on it and the blog at the weekend! ❤

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  6. Pingback: Snag and Sauce | Click This, TAPG!

  7. Here’s to the green and gold of Australia! I learned so much from this post. One of these days I hope hope hope I can visit this country. I better start buying clothes that are green…and gold. Your photo, by the way, is magnificent.

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  8. Mabel! I put green and gold in my “wine bottle” story (yesterday’s post on my blog), just in honor of your celebration of Australia’s favorite colors. Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

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