Museum of Brisbane

Sunday Stories | Wattle

Sunday Stories | Wattle

Officially proclaimed our national floral emblem in 1988, the wattle has been used as a symbol of Australia since before the Federation of our nation in 1901. Wattle was incorporated on our coat of arms from 1912 and even has it’s very own day, Wattle Day on September 1st. Our sporting colours of green and gold are also drawn from the colours of the wattle.

During the First World War the wattle took on more meaning than just patriotism. It came to represent home to those serving overseas, with soldiers sent wattle sprigs while away serving in the war. Wattle also became a way to remember loved ones who were serving. Wattle sprigs and badges featuring stylised wattle were sold to raise money in support of the war effort and were worn in memory of those who had died and those still serving.

Many women at home created banners, napkins, handkerchiefs and a range of other textiles with a sewn or painted image of wattle for loved ones in service.

For more stories like this, check out Remembering the First World War, a selection of Museum of Brisbane commissioned projects by artists, photographers and filmmakers to share the war experiences of service people who enlisted through primary documents such as photographs, diary entries and letters.

Image 1; Photo courtesy iAM Pojects, Image 2;  Australian troops in Britain, 1916, wearing the ‘wattle’. Image: Tropical Press Agency/Getty Images