Australian team blazer worn by Ivan Stedman, 1920 & 1924 Olympic Games (1924)Australian Sports Museum
Australia’s familiar sporting colours of green and gold have been worn by our sportsmen and sportswomen for more than a century.
Although these colours are commonly used by almost all Australian athletes today, green and gold have not always been the colours used to represent the nation on the sporting arena.
Photograph of Australian XI, 1878 (1878)Melbourne Cricket Club
The first sporting team to formally represent Australia was the cricket team to tour England and America in 1878. They wore striped blue and white caps and blazers and adopted pale blue as their team colour: the colour of the East Melbourne Cricket Club.
Print, "The Australian Cricketers" 1882 (1882)Melbourne Cricket Club
The first nine Australian team uniforms in any sport were created for the touring cricket teams of 1878 to 1886, and were a variety of colours, from blue and white to black and magenta. Australian teams playing at home against English teams did not manufacture special uniforms.
Badge from William Bruce's team blazer, Australian Cricket Team tour of England 1893 (1893)Australian Sports Museum
It is uncertain why some of the touring teams chose their particular colours. It seems likely, though, that the teams largely avoided wearing the red, white and blue of the United Kingdom flag, in deference to their opponents.
This embroidered cloth badge was worn by William Bruce on the 1892 Australian tour of England.
Fixture, 1909 Australian Cricket Team (1909)Melbourne Cricket Club
The first Australian sporting team to wear green and gold was the touring cricket team of 1899. We do not know why they chose those colours at the time, but in 1908, the Australian Board of Control for Cricket officially declared “gum-tree green and wattle gold” as the Australian cricket colours, referring to native Australian plants as the inspiration for the choice.
Photograph of Vic Aitken and two other men, c1908Australian Sports Museum
Australia also competed at the 1908 London Olympic Games in a “green and wattle” uniform for the first time (having previously worn colours representing the individual colonies). The Australian Olympic team has remained in these colours ever since.
Netball dress worn by Liz Ellis at the Netball World Championships, New Zealand, 2007 (2007)Australian Sports Museum
As other sports developed in Australia and began competing internationally – such as soccer in the late 1920s and netball in the 1930s – national teams moved from their own traditional sporting outfits towards adopting a green and gold uniform.
T-shirt, yellow with green bands and 'National' logoMelbourne Cricket Club
By the early 1980s, and with the increasing commercialisation of sport, the nation’s sporting colours jumped the gap from athletic uniform to fan apparel. The colourful outfits of limited-overs cricket were manufactured as official merchandise, with fans being encouraged to buy and wear the outfits to show support for the team.
Australian team tracksuit top, worn by Shirley Strickland at 1976 Olympic Games (1976)Australian Sports Museum
Green and gold were officially declared Australia’s national colours in 1984 by the Governor General Sir Ninian Stephen. Although they have been used in sport for almost a century, the colours have become used more widely since the declaration and are now found in political logos, patriotic campaigns, commercial products, artworks and costumes.