Culture and heritage


A golden garb

Blazon: the Second and Third quarters a Garb, also Or (a wheatsheaf, coloured gold). The garb had been depicted on the popular Advance Australia Arms since 1821, although it had not been adopted in any official sense.

Gullick says that the wheatsheaf is an emblem of agriculture, deriving in Australia from the first wheat and grain crops planted on the shores of Sydney Harbour, emblematic of our successful initiation and development of that peaceful art. It also commemorates the achievement of the emancipist James Ruse (and other emancipists) who laboured to establish agriculture in NSW and plant a yeomanry on the soil (Gullick 1907: 16). In 1853 a medal was struck to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Tasmania and the cessation of transportation, which featured a Coat of Arms charged (in the 4th quarter) with a garb (Gullick 1914: 8).

Thus, despite the gradual diminution of the reminders of convictism evident in the evolution of the Seals of NSW, and Gullick's insistence on on a 'forward looking' coat of arms (see discussion of the Motto), he still found it necessary to refer to the State's 'convict stained' origins, albeit heavily codified in the form of a wheatsheaf and linked, in his books, to commemorating the cessation of transportation. The placing of the garb in the less prestigious 2nd and 3rd quarters is not accidental.

Some questions to research:

  1. What are some other cultures in which emblems or images of agricultural produce are used to symbolise prosperity and settlement?
  2. Are there other euphemisms (visual or literary) used to refer to convicts and the convict period in NSW history?
Image source: Fox-Davies (1909), figure 497, page 278.
Page last updated: 01 September 2012