Flag Adopted: 3 January 1870
Flag Proportion: 1:2
Use: State Flag and Ensign
Western Australia holds the distinction of being the only Australian colony that was never a part of New South Wales. Western Australia was formally created on 18 June 1829 when the hitherto unclaimed portion of the Australian continent (west of longitude 135° E) was annexed by the United Kingdom. Western Australia was Australia′s third colony, joining New South Wales (the remainder of the continent) and Tasmania.
Western Australia′s first flag, adopted in 1870, was little different from its current flag – it had the black swan facing towards the fly of the flag rather than the hoist.
It is not clear why the flag was originally made this way. In the colonial seal and postage stamps of the time the swan was generally shown facing left, but the state badge approved by the Admiralty on 3 January 1870 showed a right facing swan.
As the Australian Coat of Arms were designed in 1901, the states′ shield shows a right facing swan for Western Australia, reflecting the design of the badge at the time.
In 1953 the direction of the swan was reversed to conform to the vexillological guideline that animals on flags should face the hoist (i.e. be left facing on the obverse), so that when carried forward on a pole, the animal will point in the same direction as the bearer.
No official documentation of this change has yet been discovered, hence the exact date of the change is unknown.
Anthony Burton (Editor), Flag Society of Australia, Melbourne, Australia.
– Australian State Flags (1865-1904): A British Admiralty Legacy", Ralph Kelly, Volume VIII No 4 October 1992.
Flags of Australia (chart)
John C Vaughan, Standard Publishing House, Sydney, 1983.
Flags of the Nations (chart)
Flag Society of Australia, Flag Research Center, and National Australia Bank, Australia, 1992.