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Sydney (Australia)

Last modified: 2005-06-17 by jonathan dixon
Keywords: australia | new south wales | sydney | anchor | crown | ship |
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[Greater Sydney flag] by John Vaughan, 6 Jan 2005

See also:

Greater Sydney Ensign

The design reflects the great history and heritage of Sydney and features the naval cross of St. George emblazoned with the stars of the Southern Cross as depicted on the official emblem of New South Wales. The crest of the city of Sydney with its golden anchor, crown and star, alludes to Sydney as a great sea port.

The six pointed star "Sirius" (the guiding star of the Dog Star constellation) reminds us of the flagship of the First Fleet, HMS Sirius. The fully rigged sailing vessel in the first canton, HM Bark Endeavour, pays further tribute to Sydney as a major mercantile and naval port. It represents all forms of shipping and boating from the time of Aboriginal canoes. The civic crown indicates the status of a great city and reminds us of the achievements of Captain James Cook RN, who explored Australia's eastern coast and named the whole region New South Wales, initially including the areas now known as Queensland and Victoria.

This attractive flag was raised in 1988, the bicentenary year, by Sir David Martin, Governor of New South Wales, and it commemorates the vexillological work of Captain John Nicholson RN and Captain John Bingle who designed the first Southern Cross Flags for Australia in the 1820s and 30s.

The Greater Sydney Ensign may be flown by Sydneysiders in the area bounded by Wollongong, Newcastle and Bathurst, including the Southern Highlands and Central Coast. It is a popular design flown on land, sea, rivers and harbours.

COLOURS: Ship - Blue; Cross -Cardinal Red; Crest - Gold; Field & Stars - White.
John Vaughan (Designer of the flag), 6 Jan 2005

The cross is untentionally offset to create a 1:2 ratio flag and a 1:2 canton as the ship, HM Bark Endeavour "fills" more of the canton's field and looks its best. The offset design also has a longer wearing (flying) life and the optical elusion, when at the masthead is that the cross is centred.

I have recreated many of Australia's historical flags and used my offset cross effectively. Some Australian flagmakers in the 1800s did not want to elongate the Union Jack (eg as on the RN White Ensign) as it was complicated and an expensive option for short production runs. Consequently the easy answer was to use a stock pattern Jack, 1:2 ration to ensigns with a central cross. My reasoning is based on the relevant flags looking their very best and providing maximum wearing life.
John Vaughan, 7 Jan 2005

This is an unofficial flag described as the "Greater Sydney" flag. It is a private design by John Vaughan of Australiana Flags. John designed the flag over 10 years ago to fill the void created by the refusal of the Sydney City Council to permit private citizens to fly the official Sydney flag. It is based on a flag shown on an 1832 flag chart and includes the crown and anchor from the Sydney arms. The flag is widely used in Sydney by hotels and others wanting to have a full set for their flagpoles (National, State, City), but not having access to an appropriately designed and authorised local flag. It also reflect the fact that the Council of the City of Sydney only has legal authority over the Central Business District and a small residential area - representing less than 5% of the area of the Sydney metropolitan area.
Ralph Kelly, 29 November 1999

John Vaughan specifies the colours of the flag as PMS-201-Maroon for the cross, PMS-072 for the ship and PMS-123-Golden Yellow for the anchor etc.
Jonathan Dixon, 13 January 2003

1830s Sydney Flag

[1830s Flag for Sydney]
by Jaume Ollé, 13 Sep 2001

From Flags of Australia [vau83]:

Another design included in Captain John Nicholson's chart which appeared in the New South Wales Calendar and G.P.O. Directory of 1832 was a proposed flag for the Port of Sydney. It featured the Southern Cross and a three masted sailing ship. The Sydney Flag is now used as a house flag for the Sydney Maritime Museum, and as a decorative flag for the City of Sydney.
Jonathan Dixon, 15 September 2001


[Sydney, Australia]

From the official site at:

The flag of the City of Sydney

The design of the flag, which is flown from Sydney Town Hall, consists of the shield from the Arms granted by the College of Arms in London on 30th July, 1908.

It comprises:

Top Left: The Arms of Thomas Townshend, Viscount Sydney, Principal Under-Secretary of State in 1788 (after whom the City was named), in honour of his position in the English administration at the time of the City's foundation.

Top Centre: The Naval Flag of England, in allusion to the foundation of the City by Captain Phillip, a Naval Captain. From the beginning Sydney was the naval base of Australia. The red cross on this is overlaid with the Globe and two Stars, the principal features of Captain Cook's Arms, which were granted as a posthumous honour for his service in the discovery of Australia, whilst commissioned naval officer.

Top Right: The Arms of the first Lord Mayor of Sydney, the Hon. Thomas Hughes, M.L.C., a compliment accorded by the Council to the Lord Mayor, during whose first term of office the increased status was granted and in whose fourth term the Arms were settled.

Bottom Centre: A ship, with subdivision of the field into blue and gold, indicative of a shipping port in the Golden South.

researched by Phil Nelson 14 August 1999

Also at, is a story on the City of Sydney's new (1996) coat of arms (the flag was taken from the old COA) The new COA contains the crown and anchor symbol which I spoke of and another interesting change is from an Aborigine and a sailor to a serpent with Eora (Sydney a rea tribe) markings and a knotted rope.
Jonathan Dixon, 15 August 1999

Sydney Waterways

[Sydney Waterways]
by Jonathan Dixon

I saw this flag on a Waterways vessel - it was actually a water version of the street cleaner trucks. Anyway it's probably Sydney Waterways or something like that. The image is really dodgy and done in a hurry, but it gives you the idea. The proportions are probably more like 2:3, too.
Jonathan Dixon, 01 January 2000

I have checked the NSW Waterways website (, and one photo shows a pilot boat wearing one such flag, which in fact is triangular, red with blue cross, and white fimbriations, stars and anchor. Proportions seem to be 1:2.
Miles Li, 9 April 2003