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Heraldry of the World
Civic heraldry of Australia


State : New South Wales

Arms (crest) of Sydney

Official blazon


The arms were officially adopted in 1996.

The new design is modern in concept, but acknowledges and builds on the history of Sydney and its Aboriginal inhabitants.
The crown and anchor - the working symbols of the city - are depicted on a central shield. The crown represents a city and the anchor a port. Above the crown and anchor are simplified versions of the arms of: Thomas Townshend (Margrave Sydney and British Home Secretary at the time of European settlement), after whom Sydney was named; Explorer Captain James Cook, superimposed on the naval flag of England, the St George Cross and Thomas Hughes, the first Lord Mayor of Sydney.

Together these represent the naming of "Sydney", the British contribution to the establishment of Sydney, and Sydney's emergence as a great city. The shield is flanked by a serpent and a coiled rope. The serpent bears the markings used by the Eora people, who lived in the area on which Sydney was founded, and represents the Rainbow Serpent, a creator-being said to have formed the landscape in the Dreamtime as it travelled through the country.

The maritime images of the rope and anchor signify the diverse cultural origins of Sydney's people, while the gentle entwining of the rope and serpent suggests cultural harmony.

Previous arms

Arms (crest) of Sydney

Official blazon


The arms were officially granted on July 30, 1908.

The upper part of the arms shows the arms of Sir Thomas Hughes, Captain James Cook and Margrave Thomas Townshend (see above), above a ship. The ship indicates the importance of the harbour for the city. It is also a symbol for the First Fleet, which anchored at Sydney. The supporters are an Aboriginal and a British sailor.


The arms on an early 20th century cigarette card

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Literature : Low, 1971; new image taken from

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