The WA Colonial Flag

Western Australia holds the distinction of being the only Australian colony that was never a part of New South Wales. The state of Western Australia was created on 18 June 1829 when the  unclaimed portion of the Australian continent (west of longitude 135 E) was annexed by the United Kingdom. Western Australia was Australia's third colony, joining New South Wales (the remainder of the continent) and Tasmania.

Unkown to most people Western Australia's first flag was not as we know it now. Western Australia's first flag was adopted in 1870 and is not much different from its current flag.  It had the black swan facing towards the fly of the flag rather than the hoist.

It is not clear why the flag was originally made this way. In the colonial seal and postage stamps of the time the swan was generally shown facing left, but the state badge approved by the Admiralty on 3 January 1870 showed a right facing swan.

As the Australian Coat of Arms were designed in 1901, the states' shield shows a right facing swan for Western Australia, reflecting the design of the badge at the time.

In 1953 the direction of the swan was reversed to conform to the vexillological guideline that animals on flags should face the hoist (i.e. be left facing on the obverse), so that when carried forward on a pole, the animal will point in the same direction as the bearer.

No official documentation of this change has yet been discovered, hence the exact date of the change is unknown.