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Royal Bluebell : Canberra's Floral Emblem
By 1962 all Australian States and Territories with the exception of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) had selected a floral emblem (Click here to view all State Floral Emblems). It wasn’t until late 1981 that the Minister for the Capital Territory, Michael Hodgman, called for the establishment of a committee to recommend a suitable floral emblem for the ACT.
The file ‘81/4653 Legislation Branch - Floral Emblem for the ACT’ covers the selection and announcement of the floral emblem for the ACT. Folios in this file also raise the issue of copyright and potential misuse of the emblem once it became officially gazetted.
The committee consisted of Dr R.W. Boden (then Director of the National Botanic Gardens), Mr M Gray, Professor L.B. Pryor, Mrs L Ruddock and Mr D.F. Wrigley. They selected three candidate flowers:
The Royal Bluebell (Wahlenbergia gloriosa) was selected as the floral emblem for the ACT. This was announced by the Minister for the Capital Territory, Michael Hodgman on the 26th of May 1982, a copy of his press statement follows.
After the announcement it was proposed that the Royal Bluebell be formally adopted by gazettal and a proclamation by the Governor General. This also raised legal issues related to inaccurate representations and inappropriate usage of the emblem and the possiblity of charging fees for its usage.
The Royal Bluebell was formerly endorsed by the ACT Legislative Assembly in the Australian Capital Territory Gazette No.22, 4 June 1997 along with the ACT’s Faunal Emblem, the Gang Gang Cockatoo. The Legislative Assemblie's debates and the gazettal can be viewed via the following links:
- Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (7 December) Page 2769
- Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1997 Week 1 Hansard (20 February) Page 242
- Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1997 Week 2 Hansard (27 February) Page 623
- Australian Capital Territory Gazette: No.22 4 June 1977
ACT Government Usage
The ACT Government employs the image of the Royal Bluebell on a wide variety of items including the in the ACT Legislative Assembly logo, the ACT Legislative Assembly Mace, the carpet in the ACT Legislative Assembly Chambers, corporate ties and scarf and the postcards reproduced at the top of this page and below. There is also a Bluebell Street in O'Connor named after the flower in 2001.
Detail of carpet in ACT Legislative Assembly Chamber.
Stationery used in the ACT Legislative Assembly Committee Room.
Current Royal Bluebell Postcard.
Other Floral Emblems
The ACT also has two other floral emblems.
The first is the Rosa ‘Canberra Rose’ was selected as the ACT emblem to commemorate the Centenary of Federation: Canberra Federation Rose
The second is the Correa cultivar named ‘Canberra Bells’ to commemorate the Centenary of Canberra in 2013: Canberra Bells
Links to external sites:
- Australian Plants Online : Wahlenbergia Gloriosa
- Canberra Museum & Gallery : Wattle, the History of an Australian Symbol
- Chief Minister's Department : ACT Flags & Emblems
- PlantNET : Wahlenbergia Gloriosa
- Wikipedia : Wahlenbergia Gloriosa
NOTE: All Australian wildflowers are protected making it illegal to pick or collect Royal Bluebells in the wild.