ACT to get its own Coat of Arms, but what will it look like?

Lachlan Roberts 25 February 2019 109
Canberra Coat of Arms

The City of Canberra’s coat of arms designed by C. R. Wylie in 1928. File photo.

Now that the battle between the Eastern Bettong and the Southern Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby for the title of ACT’s new mammal emblem has been fought and won, the ACT Government has turned its attention to the ACT’s Coat of Arms – or lack thereof.

It was only during the search for the ACT’s mammal emblem that it was discovered that the nation’s capital familiar black and white swan coat of arms actually represents the City of Canberra instead of the whole territory.

The Standing Committee on Environment and Transport, led by Suzanne Orr, has been charged with looking into creating a separate Coat of Arms for the ACT and what rules and protocols apply when designing one.

Because it happens so infrequently, Ms Orr said there is no clear and established process for adopting a jurisdictional coat of arms in Australia.

“We had a number of submitters write in and say that while we are looking at the mammal emblem we should look into the ACT Coat of Arms and perhaps consider a redesign of our flag as well,” Ms Orr said.

“The last state or territory to adopt a Coat of Arms was in 1978 and that was the Northern Territory so there is not a lot of recent guidance to say what we can and can’t do. So we have written to the Royal College of Arms in the UK to receive some guidelines.”

A Coat of Arms is a tradition which can be traced back to medieval times, originally portrayed as a unique design on the shield of a knight, handed down to his descendants. Nearly all Coat of Arms feature creatures, people or even plants who hold up a shield, which is sometimes referred to as the escutcheon.

The City of Canberra’s coat of arms was designed by C. R. Wylie in 1928, with a black and white swan, castle, two crowns and the phrase ‘For the Queen, the law and the people’.

The ACT is the only state or territory in Australia without a Coat of Arms, with no clear explanation as to why we have been left behind.

“The Committee is trying to unravel the mystery why the ACT does not have one. We went to an exhibition at the Canberra Museum and Gallery to look at the flag and they had a bit of history on the Coat of Arms,” Ms Orr said.

“It was put to us that when the ACT became self-government, they had a lot of things to do and a Coat of Arms did not make the to-do list at the time. That is the best explanation that we have received so far.”

Once the Committee figures out the parameters to adopt or design a new Coat of Arms, they will look at the symbols to include on the Arms and which “supporters” to hold up our shield.

“We have the rock-wallaby as our mammal emblem, we have the gang-gang cockatoo as our bird emblem and the Blue Bird which is our floral emblem,” Ms Orr said. “So we have quite a few emblems which could become part of the Coat of Arms.”

The Committee will report back to the Legislative Assembly mid-year and the Committee will invite community submissions in the coming months.

For further information, or to make a submission, please contact the Committee Secretary on (02) 6205 0124 or by email.

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109 Responses to ACT to get its own Coat of Arms, but what will it look like?
Chris Ellis Chris Ellis 1:28 pm 23 Feb 19

Developers portraits

Peter Bee Peter Bee 1:42 pm 23 Feb 19

No crown needed. Seriously i’d rent the shield out to whatever developer paid the most and re sell it ever 2 years. Money bag to the left, ugly building to the right. Motto: “ In Geocon we Trust”* - developer subject to change.

    Jp Romano Jp Romano 9:53 am 24 Feb 19

    Peter Bee why? The Queen is still our head of state.

    Peter Bee Peter Bee 10:03 am 24 Feb 19

    Jp Romano . Its 2019 we don’t need colonial symbolism.

    Anthony Olivera Anthony Olivera 9:01 pm 24 Feb 19

    Peter Bee You can’t change the past.

    Peter Bee Peter Bee 9:03 pm 24 Feb 19

    Anthony Olivera not trying to deny history but an independent nation needs symbols that are ours alone not English - British.

Greg Batten Greg Batten 1:54 pm 23 Feb 19

Good read, lotsa laughs.

Sammy Moynihan Sammy Moynihan 1:55 pm 23 Feb 19


Pop Senior Pop Senior 2:00 pm 23 Feb 19

No politicians, No rainbows !!!!!!!

Peter Major Peter Major 2:09 pm 23 Feb 19

Shylock and the Sheriff of Nottingham, with stacked money bags

Stan Vizovitis Stan Vizovitis 2:09 pm 23 Feb 19

It's ok we've got a roundabout!

Steve Dundee Steve Dundee 2:22 pm 23 Feb 19

A block of flats surrounded by a roundabout painted in rainbow colours

Linda Gillespie Linda Gillespie 2:29 pm 23 Feb 19

A photo of developers and pollies with their hands in each other's pockets of gold

Capital Retro Capital Retro 2:35 pm 23 Feb 19

How about a central emblem of three suspended gold balls (being the “Lombard” part of the Medici Family coat of arms) with a fruit bat on one side and an Indian Myna on the other with a background of dead trees, very high apartment blocks all surmounted with a huge rainbow?

Jeremy Archer Jeremy Archer 2:42 pm 23 Feb 19

Pretty sure the Workin' Gear logo should be there. #legendsinworkwearsince1975

Keith Alderson Keith Alderson 2:45 pm 23 Feb 19

Will lane one form be encorporated into the design somewhere?

Kieran Livingstone Kieran Livingstone 2:53 pm 23 Feb 19

Two roundabouts forming the infinity symbol

Russell Nankervis Russell Nankervis 2:55 pm 23 Feb 19

Don't we already have one?

Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 3:08 pm 23 Feb 19

For a start, one that doesn't include a castle.

M.J. Leonard M.J. Leonard 3:09 pm 23 Feb 19

Don't know, but it'll be all rainbow colours.

    Ian Faulds Ian Faulds 3:25 pm 23 Feb 19

    Martin Leonard - Rebel on the left. Comanchero on the right - fighting over a collage of other gang patches - all in front of a unicorn blowing a rainbow out it’s arse!

    M.J. Leonard M.J. Leonard 3:28 pm 23 Feb 19

    Ian Faulds We have a winner!

    David Savage David Savage 9:16 am 27 Feb 19

    Ian Faulds sadly you will probable correct mate

Michael Caldwell Michael Caldwell 3:16 pm 23 Feb 19

Yep rainbow and a couple of Harley’s.

    Mick Tainton Mick Tainton 3:53 pm 23 Feb 19

    Michael Caldwell and maybe a wreath constructed entirely of the left-hand flying apparatus of a bunch of ducks!

M.J. Leonard M.J. Leonard 3:19 pm 23 Feb 19

I've got it: 'CFMMEU' emblazed with rainbow colours.

Andrew B. Carfrae Andrew B. Carfrae 3:31 pm 23 Feb 19

A bettong... and a gang gang (or two gang gangs).

Garry Webster Garry Webster 4:05 pm 23 Feb 19

A bubble.......

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