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From curious symbol to official emblem
The kangaroo first appeared as a symbol of Australia in 1773 with the publication of an account of Captain Cook's first voyage to the Pacific. Emblematic of Australia's 'curious' nature, the kangaroo soon appeared in exhibitions, collections, art and printed works across Europe. By the 1880s this uniquely Australian marsupial was used to brand products ranging from bicycles to Billy Tea at home.
Hunted for meat and for sport, and used as a motif in the decorative arts, the kangaroo finally achieved official recognition with its inclusion on Australia's coat of arms in 1908.
When Cook's HMB Endeavour arrived back in England in 1771, it carried a vast number of specimens of plants and animals previously unknown to Europeans.
One of the strangest was a kangaroo, shot at Endeavour River for voyage naturalist Joseph Banks, who commissioned George Stubbs to paint its 'portrait'.
The official account of the Endeavour's voyage was published in 1773 and was illustrated with an engraving of Stubbs' kangaroo. The kangaroo quickly came to symbolise the Australian continent.
Since Federation in 1901, the kangaroo has appeared on currency and stamps, on Royal Australian Air Force planes and as a mascot at sporting events.
The kangaroo also appears as a logo for Qantas, Australian Made and Tourism Australia, and in the nicknames given to Australian sporting teams.