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Queensland (Australia)

Last modified: 2003-07-18 by jonathan dixon
Keywords: queensland | blue ensign | crown | maltese cross | brisbane | australia |
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[Queensland Flag] by Jorge Candeias
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Governor's flag

[Queensland Governor] by Dylan Crawfoot

In Queensland, the Governor still flies the Union Jack with its badge in a laurel wreath in the centre of the Saint-George's cross. Until 1986, all State Governors flew an undefaced Union Jack from their respective Government Houses.
Brendan Jones, 7 February 1996


1859 Queensland Ensign

[1859 Queensland Ensign] by Dylan Crawfoot

Looking at old Brisbane newspapers today, I looked up the December 1859 accounts of the separation of Queensland from NSW. The article mentions that at the official ceremony, a flag referred to as the Queensland Ensign was raised, obviously not the Blue Ensign adopted some years later. The Flag Society of Australia has an Australian Historical Flags poster featuring a Queensland "Separation Flag" from 1859, is this the flag talked about in the article? The flag is the same basic design as the British White Ensign, although I've only seen a B/W copy of the poster and I'm not sure of the colours. It might be a red cross on a light blue background, no fimbration.
Dylan Crawfoot., 11 June 1999


Following my post on the 1859 Queensland Ensign, here is a passage from the newspaper report on the ceremony and the arrival of Governor Bowen.

Along the whole line of route His Excellency was cheered after the genuine English fashion, and the procession that followed was of very creditable length and appearance. The banners carried by the body of working men and cordwainers were especially noticable for their appropriateness and applicablity to the occasion, and the flag adopted as the Queensland ensign was frequently to be seen along the line of the cortege.
- Moreton Bay Courier - 13 December 1859

I'll do some further reading of the 1850's accounts of the lead up to Queensland separation and see if any further info can be gleaned.
Dylan Crawfoot., 12 June 1999


When Queensland separated from New South Wales on 10 December 1859, celebrations were marked by the raising of this flag, which was described in the Moreton Bay Courier of 5 November 1859. The article, which was giving a summary of celebration plans by the Separation Committee, states:

That upon the day set apart to be observed as a General Holiday, to celebrate the separation of Queensland from New South Wales, the Queensland ensign (a light blue flag, with a red St George's cross, and union in upper corner) shall, at eight o'clock in the morning, be hoisted under a salute of 21 guns, the Band playing the National Anthem, and other appropriate airs, upon the occasion.

Later, in the Courier of 13 December describing celebrations on the 10th, is this report of the ceremony:

The banners carried by the body of working men and cordwainers were especially noticable for their appropriateness and applicability to the occasion, and the flag adopted as the Queensland ensign was frequently to be seen along the line of the cortege.

The flag is reminiscent of the New South Wales ensign which enjoyed unnoficial status at this time. There is no evidence the Queensland ensign was officially adopted by the Queensland government, despite its apparent prominence at the separation celebrations. It is possible that it enjoyed unofficial use in the small colony for a few years until 1870 when the government first adopted a badge for use on the Blue Ensign flown by government ships and the defaced Union Jack of the Governor.
Dylan Crawfoot., 18 June 1999


Badge Proposals

[Queensland Badge Proposal 1] by Dylan Crawfoot

[Queensland Badge Proposal 2] by Dylan Crawfoot

[Queensland Badge Proposal 3] by Dylan Crawfoot

Three other proposals were considered for a Queensland badge in 1875, as presented in Ralph Kelly's article in Crux Australis, Vol 8/4 No. 36. Five years earlier Queensland had adopted a badge featuring Queen Victoria's head in profile but this had proved difficult to reproduce well. Four new designs were prepared by the acting Colonial Secretary, Treasurer William Hemmant for consideration by Governor William Cairns. The following year the current proposal featuring a Maltese Cross and Crown was chosen.
Dylan Crawfoot, 22 April 1999


Flag of Brisbane

[Flag of Brisbane] by Jaume Ollé

The flag of Brisbane is based on the armorial bearings and coat of arms of the city: Blue and gold are the colours of Brisbane. Blue for the sea (Brisbane is on the eastern coast of Australia) and also for the river on which Brisbane is situated. Gold for the sunshine -- Brisbane is the capital city of Queensland which is nicknamed "the sunshine state".

The blue and white (silver) wavy lines represent the river again. The gold caduceus (a herald's wand with two serpents twined around it), although better known as the symbol of medicine, in this case represents commerce and peace and is the emblem of Hermes (Mercury) in his capacity as protector of commerce. This is emblematical of the everyday activities of the city and likewise appropriate for a city with status. Taken together, these symbolise Brisbane as a commercial river port.

The blue field, white stars and gold knots all refer to attributes of Sir Thomas Brisbane after whom the city is named. Sir Thomas Brisbane was a governor of the Moreton Bay convict colony in the convict days of Australia. Later Moreton Bay colony was renamed Brisbane is his honor. The blue field and white stars (mullets) represent Sir Thomas's interest and achievements in the field of astronomy. The gold knots are Stafford knots. The Stafford knot is the badge of the 38th Foot Staffordshire Regiment in which Sir Thomas first entered the British Army as an ensign in 1789. He had a highly distinguished military career serving under the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsular War where he fought with distinction, reaching the rank of general.
Paul B. Lindsay, 12 November 1996