Symbols of Australian Sport

From the Green and Gold, to the Boxing Kangaroo, and the Baggy Green, the National Sports Museum collection plays homage some of Australia's iconic sporting symbols.

By Australian Sports Museum

Plush toy kangaroo, autographed by Marjorie Jackson-Nelson & John LandyAustralian Sports Museum

Symbols are a powerful means for people to celebrate their shared cultural and sporting identity, and to separate themselves from rival sporting nations. In Australia, colours, emblems, songs and traditions help proclaim a national identity.

Silk scarf, VIIth British Empire and Commonwealth Games, Perth, 1962 (1962)Australian Sports Museum

The National Sports Museum holds many examples of Australia’s sporting symbols, including team uniforms, memorabilia and artworks.

Australian blazer pocket, 1950 British Empire Games diving coach (1950)Australian Sports Museum

National team uniforms are often distinctively Australian, incorporating symbols like the coat of arms, the national flag or the outline of the Australian continent.

Australian team tracksuit top, worn by Shirley Strickland at 1976 Olympic Games (1976)Australian Sports Museum

Three of Australia’s most iconic sporting symbols are the nation’s sporting colours, green and gold; the boxing kangaroo; and the cap worn by Test cricketers, the famous Baggy Green.

Miniature flag, "Go Aussie Go!"Australian Sports Museum

Green & Gold

Australia's national colours reflect the green and gold of the country's floral emblem, the golden wattle.

Australian team tracksuit top, worn by Shirley Strickland at 1976 Olympic Games (1976)Australian Sports Museum

Australia’s distinctive sporting colours of green and gold were first worn by the Australian cricket team in 1899. They chose green blazers with gold trim for their touring uniform, and later declared “gum tree green and wattle gold” as their permanent uniform colours. The 1908 Olympic team used the cricketers’ distinctive colours on their own uniforms, and Australian Olympians have competed in those colours ever since.

This track suit top was worn by Shirley Strickland at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, where she was a team administrator.

Australian team jumper, 1960 Winter Olympic Games (1960)Australian Sports Museum

Today, Australia is generally represented in green and gold on the sporting field, and is one of the few nations whose sporting colours are different from those found on their national flag.

Plush toy kangaroo, autographed by Marjorie Jackson-Nelson & John LandyAustralian Sports Museum

The Boxing Kangaroo

Australia's combative marsupial mascot has become one its most recognisable sporting symbols.

Banner, "Congratulations Australia II" - created to welcome home the 1983 America's Cup winning crew (1983)Australian Sports Museum

The image of the boxing kangaroo in its most common green-and-gold format was designed as the battle flag for Australia II, in the successful campaign for the 1983 America's Cup yacht racing series.

Their surprise victory had such an impact on Australian sport that the boxing kangaroo was quickly adopted by the nation as a symbol of Australia's fighting spirit in the sporting arena.

Set of ear muffs, worn at 2008 Olympic Games by shooter Stacy Roiall (2008)Australian Sports Museum

It is now a popular symbol used throughout Australian sport, and is the official mascot of the Australian Olympic team.

Poster, 1984 Australian Olympic Games teamAustralian Sports Museum

Kangaroos are not the only examples of Australia’s unique wildlife to serve as inspiration for sporting teams.

Willy the Koala was the Australian team mascot at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

Photograph of Arthur Postle & Jack Todd, 1912 (1907)Australian Sports Museum

Arthur Postle, known as the Crimson Flash due his bright-red silk uniform, used the image of an emu on his upper right shoulder.

Baggy green cap worn by Don Bradman, 1946-47 (1946)Melbourne Cricket Club

Baggy Green

The Baggy Green Test cricket cap as become one of the most revered symbols in Australian sporting culture.

Baggy green cap worn by Ian Johnson, 1949/50 (1949)Melbourne Cricket Club

The dark green cap, featuring a prominent “Advance Australia” coat of arms is instantly recognisable and holds a special place among Australian sporting symbols.

Baggy green cap worn by Don Bradman, 1946-47 (1946)Melbourne Cricket Club

The symbolism and significance of the Baggy Green has evolved over time, and today they are amongst the most treasured artefacts in Australian sport. The first example of an Australian cap being green and featuring the cricket coat of arms is from 1899, and the iconic "baggy" look was first adopted for the 1920-21 Test series.

Originally, new caps were presented to players at the beginning of a season or a tour. The tradition has evolved to the point that today a new Test cricketer is presented with a cap that they will generally wear throughout their career. Former Australian Test Captain, Steve Waugh, is credited with raising the reverence of the Baggy Green within the team to its current exalted level.

Set of ear muffs, worn at 2008 Olympic Games by shooter Stacy Roiall (2008)Australian Sports Museum

Australia’s performance in international sport is part of its shared national identity. The sporting symbols used to represent the country and its sportspeople have taken on added significance, coming to embody the dedication, effort, self belief and teamwork required to achieve success.

Credits: Story

The Baggy Green: The pride, passion and history of Australia’s sporting icon, Michael Fahey and Mike Coward, The Cricket Publishing Company, 2008.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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