Symbols can be used as a powerful force to unite people and lift their spirits. People often proudly connect themselves with the symbols of their country, state, city, school, religion, employer, sporting team, etc. An excellent publication titled Australian symbols provides detailed information on Australian State and Commonwealth symbols; see also Department of the Parliamentary Library website.
It is the symbolic use of Australian Acacias (Wattles) that is discussed here.
Wattles have been used in various ways as symbols and this has occurred at both the national governmental and local community levels. The incorporation of Acacia into the national psyche commenced in the 19th century and is now evidenced by the fact that Australia has an official Wattle Day, green and gold (the predominant colours of Wattle foliage and flowers) are the countries official national colours, a species of Wattle (Acacia pycnantha) is the official Australian floral emblem and Wattle is incorporated into the Australian Coat of Arms. Furthermore, many of the Australian medals of honour (e.g. The Order of Australia) which recognize achievement or meritorious service feature Wattles, and some Shires around the country (e.g. Dalwallinu, Hyden and Cootamundra) have adopted local species of Wattle as their floral emblem.
Detailed information on these symbolic uses of Acacia may be found on the following pages within WorldWideWattle:
- Australian Coat of Arms
- Australian Honours system (most noteably, the Order of Australia)
- Australian floral emblems
- Australian national colours
- Wattle Day
Additional to the above, Acacia species have also featured on a number of Australian stamps. On 3 September 2002 Australia Post issued a Bush Tucker series of stamps, one of which featured Acacia coriacea, a species whose seeds were commonly consumed by Aborigines.
A sensitive personal perspective of the significance of Wattles by Japanese artist Sakiko Dobashi. Ms Dobashi presented an exhibition on Wattles at the Japan Cultural Centre in Sydney in 2002.
The National Library of Australia houses a rich store of musical scores of which the following relate to Acacia and are available on the web: Australian Wattle Blossom for Wattle Day; Wattle Day March, Song and Chorus; The Wattle Song, Australia's Emblem song; Australia's Emblem of Gold, or Our Golden Wattle; Wattle Time (Song Waltz); The Wattle Waltz; When The Wattle Blooms Again (by Nellie Kolle and M.R. Hunter); When The Wattle Blooms Again (by Walter Keene, Edgar Vincent and J.P. Knowles); Where the Golden Wattle Grows; Yellow Wattle (Dedicated to The Australian Soldier); A Bunch of Golden Wattle (A song of Australia); Down By the Wattle Tree; Golden Wattle; The Graceful Swaying Wattle; Just a Spray of Wattle; My Sweet Australian Wattle Girl (Dedicated to 'Miss Australia'); My Wattle Blossom Girl; Only a Spray of Wattle (Words and music composed & arranged by James Goodman, late of Australian Infantry Forces); Wattle Blossom; Wattle Blossom Time in Australia; Wattle Blossom Waltz; Wattle Blossoms; The Graceful Swaying Wattle.
We are gratefully indebted to Erica Ryan, Manager, Digital Collections Management Branch of the National Library of Australia for bringing these fascinating historical documents to our attention.
Anonymous (2000). Australian symbols, pp. 63. (A book published and produced for the Awards and National Symbols Branch of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.)