Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands

It was Christmas yesterday and because the timing just lined up too well, this week we'll be looking at two Aussie flags that need no fixing, Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands:

This is the flag of Christmas Island, an Australian territory that lies just to the south-west of Java.  It has a small population (1,400), but an awesome flag.  This one has it all in my book: a map, a representative (but stylized) animal, and clear colors.  The Southern Cross clearly links the territory to Australia, but it even mixes it up by placing the constellation on the left, rather than the right.  I really love this flag, and wouldn't change a thing (well, I might remove the little eye-spot on the bird, it seems kind of fussy).

Not too far from Christmas Island, you can find Australia's other Indian Ocean territory, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands:

This flag also uses the Southern Cross, but by changing the color scheme, it makes it more interesting.  The crescent speaks to fact that the majority of the population (of about 600) is Muslim.  I also love this flag.  It takes a familiar Australian symbol and uses it in an unique way.  The palm tree could be simplified a little, but that is a minor quibble with what is otherwise a great flag. 

Why is it that the Australian territories are so much better at flags than the actual states?  If anyone has any thoughts on this, I'm all ears.

Monday, December 19, 2011

New Flag for South Australia

I can't think of anything clever to introduce another of Australia's cookie-cutter state flags, so here's South Australia:

The bird in the badge is called a Piping Shrike, though apparently there is some controversy over what bird it actually depicts, with the Murray Magpie and White-backed Magpie being two contenders.  If this were just another bird emblem, I may have gotten rid of it, but because it is a mystery bird, I'm keeping it.  The Union Jack gets no such reprieve.

I figure Australia is missing a good tricolor design, so I'll use one here for South Australia's new flag:

The colors here can stand for the typical flags things, oceans, agriculture, prosperity, etc., but I chose this order for a couple reasons.  The first being that blue never seems to get to be in the center, and the second because placing the shrike on the far right replicates the style of the current flag.  It also give the flag a unique feel, as the vast majority of flags place their emblems in the center.  And just in case the off-centeredness of this design bugs some people, here's what it would look like in a more traditional style.  I believe I increased the size of the bird a bit too:

Monday, December 12, 2011

New Flag for Australia

This week I'm taking a break from my usual format of fixing state/province flags and looking at one on the national level:

I've been criticizing Australian state flags for sticking too close to the national template, but the national flag isn't that great either.  As flags that use the Union Jack go (and aren't the UK flag), this is one of the best, mostly because the constellation pattern is much better than the usual seal that accompanies the flags of Fiji, the Falklands, and Montserrat.  On an overall flag scale though, it falls behind the simplicity, elegance, and uniqueness of Canada, South Africa, and Japan. 

This is not a problem of which Australians are unaware.  Just before the 2000 Sydney Olympics, an organization called AusFlag put out a poster that challenged Aussies to identify their national banner from a group of state, provincial, colonial, and yacht club flags, all of which used the Union Jack design.  This organization and others like it (including the Flag Society of Australia) are pushing for a better flag for the commonwealth (or republic even, depending on which site you're looking at, some use the flag debate to argue for severing many ties to the UK), one which is more representative of the nation and its people.  They have put forward some great designs over the years, so I'll just show a few of my favorites:

This flag was designed by Harold Scruby and portrays the Southern Cross "shining over the great red island continent, surrounded by the seas."  That seems to say it all.  Kangaroos are another popular theme, ranging from great designs to spin-offs of the Qantas logo.  This flag is one of the former:

This flag reminds me of Papua New Guinea's, and I really like that one.  The design is by Russell Kennedy and uses the Southern Cross and kangaroo to great effect.  It is also a great example of a reconciliation flag, one which uses the colors and imagery of the Australian Aboriginal flag (which I have shown and used in previous posts) and the current national flag.  But I can't talk about reconciliation flags without showing you this last example:

Designed by Brenden Jones, this places the Commonwealth Star (a much-used symbol of Australia, each point representing states and territories) in the Aboriginal side and utilizes black, red, yellow, and blue.  I kind of like the boomerang shape, but I can't help seeing East Timor's flag when I look at this one.

If I were given a vote (though as an American, I doubt Aussies care what I think), I would go for the second flag I presented, Russell Kennedy's, but this post has barely scratched the surface of the amazing designs out there.  Green and yellow are often used as the national colors of Australia, showing up on uniforms and sports stuff, and there are lots of great flag ideas that use that color scheme.  I highly encourage folks to check out AusFlag and the Australian Flag Society for more.

Thanks to wok for helping me remember I wanted to talk about this.

Monday, December 5, 2011

New Flag for Victoria

What's that you say?  There's no way an Australian state flag can be a bigger copycat of the Australian national flag than New South Wales?  Well then allow me to introduce you to Victoria:

I believe the ratio of Union Jack to Southern Cross may be a bit different than the national, but if it wasn't for that little crown, you would be hard pressed to distinguish the two.  Victoria, in case you couldn't guess, is named for Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India, and sovereign of Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Egypt, and many, many other places at various points during her reign.  When the state that would be Victoria was separated from New South Wales by the British government, it is no surprise the named the new colony after their monarch.  The crown on the flag, which was adopted later, was meant to symbolize this connection.

The crown specifically depicts St. Edward's Crown, one of the British crown jewels which is used for coronations and appears on a number of flags and shields (such as the British Indian Ocean Territory).  Keeping this connection in mind, I feel like the crown should be retained in a new flag, but the basic template can be discarded.

Luckily (for me), Victoria has a great flag from it's past, the Eureka flag, a banner used in a brief rebellion in 1854:

This flag is not without controversy, but as the rebellion is often credited with bringing universal male suffrage to the colony, it provides a great symbol for democracy and for Australian independence.  I think with the addition of the crown, it provides historical background in a way unique to the state:

The only thing I wasn't sure of was whether the blue should continue behind the crown (between the top part of the crown and the red cloth, you should be able to see through it), so I've included that version as well:

I'm a little surprised I've gotten this far into Australian state flags without putting a kangaroo on one.  Don't worry though, it's coming.  Maybe for Queensland since I just did a monarch themed flag...