Culture and heritage


Queen Victoria Building

Advance Australia Arms Queen Victoria Building, 1898

This magnificent representation of the Advance Australia Arms is found in the York Street façade of Sydney's Queen Victoria Building.

The building was constructed between 1893 and 1898, replacing the earlier municipal markets building on the site. It was named to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 1897, and was built by Sydney City Council, which intended that "a marvellous centre of trade will be established here" (Mayor Matthew Harris at the opening of the building in 1898).

The representation of the Arms is similar to others of the period, although it notably omits any supporters, instead using acanthus leaves to hold it in position above a base of painted fretwork. The nine-rayed rising sun and the silver (Argent) banded golden fleece prefigure Gullick's design for the NSW Coat of Arms eight years later. The crossed pick and shovel have replaced the harpoon and anchor of the pre-gold rush period, and all of the symbols given some indication of the sources of economic wealth that would be spent in the new building.

This is among the grandest of all of the representations of the Advance Australia Arms in Sydney. The building was designed by George McRae. The original stained glass maker is unknown, but this window was restored c1985 by Rodney Marshall and Stephen Taylor of Sydney Stained Glass (Sherry: 35)

Some questions to research:

  1. What associations are being implied by the use of the Advance Australia Arms in a municipal shopping building?
  2. What opportunities does the artist working in stained glass have in the artistic representation of a coat of arms compared to artists working in other media?

Image source: Nathanael Hughes, 11th October 2006.

Page last updated: 01 September 2012