Museum of Brisbane

Why the wattle?


What is the significance of wattle?

In our current exhibition Facing World War One: Stories of loyalty, loss and love, we delved deep in to our Australian history and discovered that during the First World War, the wattle took on more meaning than just patriotism.

Officially proclaimed our national floral emblem in 1988, the wattle has been used as a symbol of Australia since before we became an independent nation in 1901. Our sporting colours of green and gold are drawn from the colours of the wattle.

During the First World War, the wattle 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.

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Commemorative badges worn during the First World War. National Museum of Australia. Photo: Lannon Harley.