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  • Writer's picturePaul


The coat of arms of Australia features (among other things) a red kangaroo and an emu holding up the central shield.

There have been some refinements to that design over the years since it was first introduced in 1908. The emu, for example, used to have one leg raised as if it were helping the kangaroo to support the shield. But kangaroos are strong (case and point), so he don’t need no help with any of that. Hence the emu’s leg was quietly lowered back down to the ground when the present design was adopted in 1912.

That date was also when the written scroll beneath the central shield was altered: previously it had read “Advance Australia”, not just “Australia”—and, curiously, it’s that motto that originally dictated thetwo animals either side of it.

You see, the kangaroo and the emu weren’t just chosen to appear on their home country’s coat of arms because they’re quintessentially Australian fauna. If that were the only criterion for selection, then why not pick a koala, a platypus, an echidna, a crocodile, or one of Australia’s 170 native species of snake?

No, the kangaroo and the emu were chosen to stand alongside the words “Advance Australia” because both creatures are totally incapable of walking backwards. And frankly, what better emblem for a country excited about its future and its progression in the world than two creatures that literally cannot move in reverse?


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