The Australian flag is composed of three parts:
The Union Jack (British flag) in the top left corner,
The 'Star of Federation' in the bottom left corner, and
The Southern Cross, taking up the right half of the flag.
The Union Jack shows that the first colonisation by Europeans was by Britain. The Star of Federation is a seven pointed star. They came to the number seven, by giving each state (six in all) a point on the star, and having one more point for Australia's territories (of which there are several). There are two mainland territories, and several overseas, including two in Antarctica. The Southern Cross is a constellation that can be seen from all of Australia's states and territories.
History of the flag
A competition was held to find the flag that would be adopted by the new nation of Australia late last century (Australia became a nation on 1 January 1901). Thousands of submissions were received, but something very interesting occurred: six of the flags received (no two from areas close to one another) were virtually identical. Not only had the same design been received six times independently from different parts of the country, but it looked good too. The flags differed only in small details (the number of points on the various stars, the size of the Union Jack, etc). The committee looking at the flags eventually decided on a flag that was not exactly the same as any one of the six, but similar to all of them. The prize money was shared between the six contestants. The flag was not actually adopted officially until 1952.
Displaying the flag
Peter Shave (25 Jul 2006)