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When you see an Australian flags for sale, did you realize Australia is the only place in the world where the national flag flies over the entire continent? Or that the Australian flag was the first flag in the world to be chosen in a public competition in 1901 from 32, 823 entries and the winners were awarded £200? Winners? Five people submitted nearly identical designs and each shared the winning prize.

As a former colony of Great Britain, the Union Jack sits prominently on the Australian flag and there is debate going on today on whether it should be there. The Australian flag is the only flag in the world aside from Jordan to feature a seven-pointed star on it. The seven points represent Australia’s six states, and the seventh point represents its territories; it’s known as the Commonwealth Star. The other half of the Australian flag shows the Southern Cross constellation. These five stars served as important navigation tools to navigators in the Southern hemisphere in olden times and can be seen from Australia. The Southern Cross or Crux also flies on the flags of New Zealand, Papua New Guinea Samoa, Samoa, and Brazil. The Southern Cross plays a part in the myths of Australia’s oldest indigenous people – the Aborigines. The Aborigines have their own flag and other Australian flags show additional groups that came to the continent over the years such as the Torres Straight Islander Flag and the Australian Sea Islanders flag.

Flags are a source of pride and symbolism to the nations and people they represent. But flags grew out of warfare. In olden times, warriors needed to identify who their friends and foes were and poles were used with symbols taken from shields. Soon these emblems adorned suits of armor. These “coats of armor” eventually birthed the flag. So when you look at Australian flags, remember it’s more than just a bunch of random stars with a Union Jack on it but a reminder of the continent’s unique history.