This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

City of Melbourne (Victoria, Australia)

Last modified: 2022-10-22 by ian macdonald
Keywords: melbourne |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

[City of Melbourne flag] image by Eugene Ipavec, 15 Jun 2006

See also:

City of Melbourne Flag

The City of Melbourne flag is a (roughly) a banner of arms. The arms are described at this page on the City of Melbourne website:

"On a silver shield, a red cross (the cross of St George) with a narrow red bar (known as a cotise) is adjacent to, and parallel with, each side of each arm of the cross. On the central part of the cross is a Royal Crown. Also on the shield, in the four quarters, are: a fleece hanging from a red ring; a black bull standing on a hillock; a spouting whale swimming in the sea; and a three-masted ship in full-sail."
At the bottom of the page is a photo of what appears to be the reverse of the flag.
Jonathan Dixon, 28 May 2005

1940-1970 flag

[City of Melbourne flag 1940-70] image by Eugene Ipavec, 15 Jun 2006

I have come across a slightly unusual version of the City of Melbourne flag. Instead of the in the third quarter the whale appears in the second, having switched places with the bull. I suppose this could be a flag based on an earlier version of the arms, but the crown does appear to be St Edward’s crown indicating a post 1953 date.

It is a small car flag and I wonder on whose car it would be displayed?
Mattias Hansson, 2 June 2006

The Lord Mayor of the City of Melbourne (Vic., Aust.) does sometimes use a "Car-size" flag when driven to official functions. The difference in location for two of the elements on this flag, as reported, is that this flag was based on the City Arms used between the 30 January 1940 and 18 March 1970. It was decided to swap the Bull and Whale so that the sea symbols would appear on the same (lower level), with the land symbols on the same (upper level).
Ralph Bartlett, 11 June 2006

I am familiar with the old coat of arms, where the whale appears in the top right, as this form appears in many very durable forms around the city on lampposts and such. However this form was eventually pointed out to them as an embarrassment, as the presence of 'water' above the ship made the ship, heraldically, a submarine.

I think you might agree that a three-masted submarine in full sail is a little ridiculous. I don't know that this situation was what motivated the change in 1940, but as it is the only change to the flag I strongly suspect it to be the case.
Karen Groves, 20 October 2013

The two image versions of the City of Melbourne Flag shown here are based upon extensive researching conducted by myself and others, over many years.

The flag itself is based upon the Shield of the City's Coat-of-Arms, first designed as Seal in 1843, but not officially granted as a full Coat-of-Arms, by the College of Arms (London), until the 30 January 1940. The Arms, and therefore the City Flag, were modified on the 18 March 1970, by swapping the positions of the Bull and Whale, so that the two land animals appear on the same horizontal level, with the two sea features appearing below on their own same horizontal level. The reasoning for this change suggested by Karen Groves is a possible "realistic" reason.

I believe that the City of Melbourne Council decided in 1970 not to remove the various renditions of the earlier Coat-of-Arms from around the central city area, as they had become both decorative and historical features of the City's history. As someone who was born and raised in greater Melbourne, and has worked for the last 30 years in the City's central business district, these decorative lamp posts and street power box doors are a lovely feature for both residents and tourists to enjoy.
Ralph Bartlett, 20 October 2013

Standard of the City of Melbourne

Within the original Letters Patent for Armorial Bearings of the Corporation of the City of Melbourne 1970 is also a standard depicted.
Vanja Poposki, 22 September 2022

Here are simage of the City of Melbourne March 1970 Letters Patent, plus the earlier January 1940 Letters Patent.
Ralph Bartlett, 22 September 2022

Melbourne Letters Patent - 18 March 1970

[Melbourne Standard] image provided by Ralph Bartlett, 22 September 2022
[Click on image for larger version]

Melbourne Letters Patent - 30 January 1940

[Melbourne Standard] image provided by Ralph Bartlett, 22 September 2022
[Click on image for larger version]

Melbourne Olympics flag (1956)

Mossgreen Sporting Memorabilia has items for Melbourne at and following pages. At the bottom of that page are two sets of Melbourne pennants. At the next page,, we see some more pennants, and then "Pair of Flags/Wall hangings with Melbourne Olympics logo",

Now, all of those might not qualify as flags, but the same index page also shows: "Official's Car Pennant, with Melbourne Olympics emblem". This shows an approximately 1:2 black and white flag with an orthogonal split, with hoistward half of the flag sporting the emblem of the games and in the flyward half the word "official" in capitals (see

Both cases come with documentation, apparently, though the documents aren't on-line on a readable scale.

Also at Mossgreen's,, are street banners for Melbourne's 1996 bid.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 14 August 2016

It seems that this is also a related flag to those Olympics, a "Courtesy" flag:, (source: Picture caption reads: "Sixty-plus years ago - 1956 - Melbourne hosted the Olympic Games. Unlike the 2000 Sydney Olympics, comparatively few collectable items were issued - although quite a number were released unofficially. These days, there would be huge fines for selling unapproved merchandise. There is the famous case from those earlier times where the Olympic Hotel (sited near the original Olympic Village) simply turned the Olympic Rings upside down on its signage - and got away with it for years! This flag flew from Melbourne's W-Class trams in 1956, suggesting that the locals show some courtesy to all overseas and interstate visitors. Mounted on a sturdy pole, this flag would have been shown for the entire ten days of the Games. Price today? Hard to determine, but there are plenty of Olympic collectors, so I'd reckon $300 plus."
Esteban Rivera, 14 August 2016

Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works

[Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works] image located by Vanja Poposki, 22 September 2022

Historical information
As the Yarra became unsuitable as a source of water, several attempts were made to find alternative sources for the growing population of Melbourne. It was not until 1891 that the efforts to sewer Melbourne came to fruition with the setting up of the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW), now known as Melbourne Water. From 1891 until 1992, it was the responsibility of the MMBW to safeguard public health by providing a sewerage system and a safe water supply system. In 1992, The MMBW merged with a number of smaller urban water authorities to form Melbourne Water

This MMBW flag is of historical significance for its association with the former Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW). This flag is relatively intact with only two of its kind held in the collection. The flag is significant as is represents a proud organisation and demonstrates the organisations historical development of services, a strong theme of the collection. The flags navy and gold colour is aesthetically pleasing while the coat of arms represented on the flag holds great meaning.

Physical description
Navy and gold Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) flag with the Southern Cross and MMBW coat of arms. The coat of arms incorporates Melbourne and the United Kingdom, and the motto of the board 'Publica Merces Salus Mea', 'Public Health is my Reward'.

Vanja Poposki, 22 September 2022

In the early 1980s I researched the Crest and Flag of the then Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works. The resulting article was published in the Flag Society of Australia's journal "Crux Australis", Vol.1, No.3 - October 1984. The former M.M.B.W. Flag, as shown in Vanja's earlier e-mail, is correct.

However, the M.M.B.W. Coat-of-Arms and Heraldic Banner & Badge, accessed in the link below, were to the best of my knowledge, never approved or formally granted by the College of Arms, in London, for use by the M.M.B.W. As part of my researching, at that time, I extensively interviewed various senior and long serving M.M.B.W. Managers and the then just retired long term 1966-82 Chairman. They all only spoke of or knew only of the M.M.B.W. Crest and Flag held by Victorian Collections. I also photographed this flag, which dates from November 1980. The Crest had been in use since shortly after the Board's establishment on 1 July 1891, continuously until it was abolished and replaced by Melbourne Water in early 1992.

The Heraldic design by Morace Kingsley Hall, a prolific local Heraldist, was just one of many, probably dozens of such designs prepared by him for hopeful adoption by various government institutions and local municipalities. To my knowledge, none of these were ever approved by the various instrumentalities or requested to be granted by the College of Arms. All of these designs have dates in the mid to late1960's, together with the words, "Copyright. All rights reserved." Text that normally does not appear on a College of Arms granted Letters Patent. Morace Kingsley Hall's work was well intentioned, as he was wanting to "Australianise" heraldic designs for used in Australia.

I hope that this information clarifies the Crest & Flag used by the former Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works.

Ralph Bartlett, 23 September 2022