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More than a thousand species of acacia plants, known as wattle, are found throughout Australia. First Australians know these plants by many names. Namaraag is the word used by Sydney's Dharawal people for Sydney golden wattle. When its yellow flowers first bloom, this means that the burri burri (whales) are on the move and mullet are ready to be caught.

Wattle branches have been on Australia’s coat of arms since 1912 and golden wattle is Australia's national floral emblem. At citizenship ceremonies, wattle is worn to signify new beginnings.

More on wattle

Queen Elizabeth II wattle painting

William Dargie's painting of the young queen is one of the most recognisable 20th century Australian portraits.

Knowing Plants

See Uncle Rodney Mason and his granddaughter, Kodie Mason, in Kamay Botany Bay National Park.

A woman in a green and yellow uniform running with a hockey stick across a field. - click to view larger image
Nova Peris playing for the Hockeyroos, 1996

Green and gold

Australian Olympians and national sporting teams wear green and gold uniforms, inspired by the green of the wattle leaf and the gold of the flower.

The boxing kangaroo flag, another symbol of Australia, is green and gold. Wattle has also been a popular motif in the arts.

Wattle Day

1 September was formally recognised as National Wattle Day in Australia in 1992. Wattle Day was first celebrated in Hobart in 1838 to mark 50 years since the arrival of the First Fleet in the colony of New South Wales.

In September 1910, the first ‘national’ Wattle Day was held in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. Over the next few years there was a push to extend Wattle Day celebrations across the country.

Photograph mounted on board, showing three women and a man standing in front of table loaded with wattle sprays. 'Wattle Day. Maggie Moore's Stall 1914' is handwritten across the bottom of the board. - click to view larger image
Wattle Day stall, 1914

Early Wattle Day activities included the planting of wattle trees and botany lessons at schools, making street decorations of wattle blossom and wearing sprigs of wattle.

During the First World War, wattle sprigs and badges were sold to raise money for the war effort and organisations such as the Red Cross. Later, wattle was worn to commemorate Australians who lost their lives while serving overseas.

By the Second World War wattle was no longer being widely used as a symbol of Australia and Wattle Day all but disappeared.

Calls to make wattle a national floral emblem didn’t re-enter the national consciousness until the 1980s.

In our collection

Glass replica diamond and emerald wattle arrangement broochGlass replica 'diamond' and 'emerald' brooch, in a wattle floral arrangement, mounted on a horizontal metal clasp.
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