Sydney's flag and flower

Sydney's flag and flower

White, gold and blue

The City of Sydney's flag is flown from Town Hall. Its design incorporates features from the City's coat of arms.

The flag is a horizontal triband of three colours - white, gold and blue. The top third features three designs. In the top left the arms belong to Thomas Townshend, Viscount Sydney (pictured right) after whom the City was named.

The English Naval Flag in the centre acknowledges the role Arthur Philip played in Sydney's foundation.

The red cross is overlaid with a globe and two stars - the principal features of James Cook's Arms, which were granted as a posthumous honour for his service in mapping Australia.

The arms in the top right belong to the first Lord Mayor of Sydney, Thomas Hughes. It was during his term of office that the title of Mayor became Lord Mayor, and the official coat of arms for the city was granted.

The remaining field of the flag features a ship under full sail, an allusion to the prominence of Sydney as a maritime port.

Portrait of Thomas Townshend, Viscount Sydney

Rusty banksia

Officially adopted in 1992 as part of the City's 150 year anniversary celebrations, the Banksia ericifolia serves as a symbol of Australia's oldest city.

The orange-rusty coloured banksia was first documented by Sir Joseph Banks when Captain Cook came to Botany Bay in 1770. The species, which is indigenous to the foreshores of the Harbour and heathlands along the coast, still survives in abundant numbers.

"This Banksia was the winter life blood of the Wadi Wadi people of the Illawarra. They left the beaches to winter on our escarpment ... winter threatened no bushfires and the Banksia yielded all their food requirements. Nectar supplied sugar and gill birds (large flocks) moved in on this syrup which in turn gave them all the meat. Fuel came from the cobs which burn cleaner and far better than coal or coke ... (it was) a complete life support system."

Noel Carr, Australian & New Zealand Society of Ecologists, 1992.

The flowers are formal in appearance and have formed the basis of the floral arrangements sent to Sydney's Sister City, Nagoya for their Annual Floral Festivals.

Banksia ericifolia

"There is, I think, no more decorative plant in the bush than this particular Banksia, when the bottle brushes are newly-opened and the little hooked styles are deep red with yellow tips. A bunch of them arranged with their own green in a big bronze jar is a sight to gladden a whole household." Excerpt from A Bush Calendar by Amy E. Mack, 1909.

Last updated: Tuesday, 4 December 2012