submitted by O Kosmos on 20.11.2005
Editor, Joan Messaris
Tuesday 25 August 1998.
Cover Page, and page 19/5
When Constantine and Evangelia Tzortzopoulos were growing up in the Kytherian village of Karavas, never in their wildest dreams could they have imagined that they would become husband and wife, migrate to Australia, and that their son George (born and raised in Gilgandra NSW, educated at UNSW , and resident of Waverley Municipality for the past 25 years) would design a flag that would become accepted as the Beaches Flag in their new country!
It was in fact last month, on July 29, that George C. Poulos received notification from Councillor Paul Pearce, Mayor of Waverley that Council had adopted the rec~ommendation of the Committee for a Waverley Council Beaches Flag and that our compatriot’s design had been accepted. The flag - which is the result of 14 months of research and design - had its national and international debut during the Sun City to Surf where it featured prominently throughout the race on the Channel 10 coverage. Since then the flag
- denoting the beaches of Bondi, Bronte and Tamarama and created by George Poulos with the assistance of Joe Bollen of Bollen Design Turramurra - can be seen flying at numerous locations around Bondi Beach including all 25 flag poles along the centre of Campbell Parade. This will constitute the longest continuous public display of an Australian ensign which is not the incumbent flag of Australia, in Australian history. [The array of flags was captured forever during the "shooting" of the movie Looking for Alibrandi*. The flags feature (incidentally) in a number os scenes in that movie.]
Speaking to Young World, George Poulos (who describes himself as a vexillologist, iconographer and vexillographer) mentioned that it was back in 1974 that he had visited Bondi Beach for the first time “and instantly I decided that this was the only place in the world where I wanted to live. I moved to Bondi Road in the same year - bought a home unit in Ramsgate Avenue, Bondi Beach in 1978, with wife Lorraine; and we bought a house in Eastern Avenue, Dover Heights in 1993. I have lived and worked in Waverley for a quarter of a century. I have always been attracted by the very deep sense of community that exists in the Bondi area. It has always reminded me of the deep sense of community that existed in the small NSW country town, Gilgandra, where I was born and schooled. By contrast I have found a weaker or non-existent sense of community in many other parts of Sydney I have lived in or visited over the years.”
George PouIos went on to explain that the meaning of the flag is multi-layered. Put simply, it is meant to celebrate our beach culture out of which a great deal of our Australian sense of identity has been created. The theme of Sun-Gods, Bronzed Aussies and Surf Life Savers, and Golden Sportspersons has run throughout history.
The “rising sun” which denoted Advance Australia in 19th century Australia, and which features on the crest of the Waverley Council Coat-of-Arms, created in 1859, features prominently in the canton (Honour point on the far top left hand corner of a flag).
The “rising sun” also featured on the early swimming costumes of the Bondi Surf Club. The colours of the Australian Surf-Lifesaving Movement - red and yellow - feature prominently.
The stars evoke the Eureka Stockade flag of 1854. The eight points on each star represent each State and Territory of Australia.
The flag celebrates the fact that demographically 80% of Australians live very close to the “5” words - Sea, Sun, Surf, Sky and Sand... under the Southern Cross.
The red also signifies the terra cotta roofs in Waverley - the most densely populated area in Australia.
The “rising sun” badge of the AIF and the Anzacs is also evoked. The red on the flag denotes the blood that they shed at another beach - Gallipoli - where our nation “came of age” - in order that we could, in future generations, enjoy beaches like Bondi, in our uniquely Australian way.
“Clearly - notes George Poulos - the Flag is also a Gallipoli Beach Flag. Why has it taken Australians nearly a century to devise a Gallipoli flag? We have exhorted all our lives ‘never to forget’. This flag is the perfect means by which to ensure that those of us ‘who are left.., to grow old’ will never forget.”
George Poulos does not hide the fact that Greek blood runs through his veins.
Proof of this is when he states that even as a young child he was doubly grateful for the ANZACs’ courage in war - as an Australian for giving birth to a genuine national spirit, and as a Greek-Australian for their services to Greece, ‘paying back’ the Turkish nation for the 400 years of oppression, for helping the German-Turkish alliance to lose WWI and at least until the ‘error of judgment’ of 1922 restored the relative Turkish-Greek power balance in favour of the Greeks.
With regard to his creation, he emphasises that it must also be realised that this is the first flag in the 3,000 years of world vexillological (flag) history, which uses the total field of a flag as a beach.
The enclosed nature of the beach indicates how protected and relatively safe it is to swim in. It also indicates the very close sense of community that exists around. Waverley Beaches.The red land mass is curved, so that it also connotes a wave breaking onto a shore. The white line of surf that gets larger as it moves to the right - indicates how waves build up momentum as they approach the beach.
Anyone wishing to purchase a huge 6ft by 3ft (1800 x 900 cm's) flag at the manufactured cost, can email here
George Poulos’ flag has already featured on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald, Sun Herald and 0 Kosmos and in suburban publications including the Wentworth Courier. Perhaps the most glowing commentary on the flag came from a lifelong journalist and former editor of the Mosman Daily, Barry Laws who sent a Letter to the Editor to the Sun Herald where he wrote:
“I was so struck by the flag as designed by Mr George Poulos, which was the subject of an article and colour photograph in today’s Sun Herald (9.8.98, p.12) that I felt compelled to write to you to put my views and to put forward a suggestion for your consideration. To put it simply, I believe Mr Poulos and Waverley Council are selling themselves short thinking this\flag should be flown at Bondi and other beaches. Before even reading the article, the flag 'jumped' out at me as our future national flag . It had that elusive ‘it’ quality - something which was absolutely missing from the various boxy, contrived and trite designs which were’put up some months ago for people to consider and which have apparently sunk without trace. To my eye, Mr Poulos’s flag flowed; its vivid colours, depicting this . island continent’s blue skies and sea and golden beaches, the retention of the Southern Cross to show the world where we are and the powerful symbolism of young Australians blood spilt upon the beach of Gallipoli and many other beaches which followed in the name of peace and freedom says it all for all Australians, whatever their colour or creed. It is well accepted by historians that the Gallipoli horror was the event which forged the States together as one in spirit as well as by the Constitution. How better could we honour this momentous event than to present it as part of the symbolism of our national flag for the 21st century?
There is no doubt in my mind, because of the striking appearance of the design and especially after reading the raison d’ etre for the design, that this flag should be promoted to the Australian public for it to vote on its views as to whether or not this design should become our national flag. In considering the design from a national viewpoint, the only suggestion for a slight change that I would make (if I may be so bold), is instead of red, the blood would be depicted in the colour of ochre, so that the red soils of Australia’s outback are included, thus honouring our people of the country and outback generally;
A significant feature of Mr Poulos’ design, apart from presenting a flag to the world which would stand out and be uniquely Australian (as the maple leaf stands out for Canada) is that this flag would be for all Australians, black and white. All Australians are surrounded by the . seas and all Australians enjoy the. clear blue and gold colours of this country and the warmth of the sun, regardless of their colour or origin. It is simply stating what Australians see and feel about their land. Also, in this time of terrible divisiveness which unfortunately marks Australian society, I believe this flag could quite well be a source for helping to bring Australians back together. The current flag has served us well, but it belongs to another time. One can easily imagine this new flag flying over our Olympic champions in the Year 2000. It would not be mistaken for the flag of New Zealand and it would not appear to indicate to the world that Australia is still a colony,” wrote Barry Laws before acknowledging the magnificent contribution of Greeks to Australia.
“And what is more fitting that this new flag has been designed by an Australian who, presumably, because of his name, is of Greek heritage, a country which has provided thousands of fine people to Australia over the past decades to assist in building this nation to where it is today,” stated Barry Laws and ended his letter by asking if the Sun Herald would consider re-publishing George Poulos’ flag for the purpose of conducting a poll to ascertain whether or not the flag would be accepted as the new national flag of Australia.
Mr Laws ended his letter thus:
“With appropriate promotion, my feeling is that this issue would create great interest and who knows where it will go? The great line from the film ‘The Dead Poets’ Society’ comes to mind when the teacher exhorts his students to ‘seize the moment’. This could just be one of those moments!” exclaimed Barry Laws.
In a comment to Young World, George Poulos noted that together with Joe Bollen he has two other designs using the same template that they could put forward as the Australian national flag for the 21st century.
“Again quite clearly, Gallipoli features heavily in the design. But this time we include ‘Uluru’ and references to the (Ab)Original Australians (red, gold and black), the Australian national colours (green and gold) and multicultural Australians (signified by six colours of the multi-national Olympic logo). Reference is also made to Asian Australians - in the colours red and gold - one/both of which colours feature on virtually every flag of Asia. The British colours- red, white and blue are still the predominant colour scheme. I commend this design to Waverlians and to all Australians,” stated George Poulos, a member of the Flag Society of Australia and Friend of the University of NSW Library who has also been commissioned by Australian-American Publishing House Simon and Schuster to submit a manuscript on the Emerging Australian Flag.
With regard to his Hellenic background, George Poulos emphasised that he is extremely proud of the Greek ethos - the giving, bringing, sharing, laughter and dancing. Furthermore he is proud of his parents’ birthplace, Karava and enthusiastically serves as Co-President of the Karavitiko Symposium, an event which for the past 32 years has been bringing together Kytherians from Karava for a traditional luncheon on the Sunday immediately after the feast day of their patron saint Haralambos.
Also in following the Greek tradition, George and Lorraine’s children have been named after their paternal grandparents. Angelique is now 15 and Dean is 13 years of age. Perhaps at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games teenagers Evangelia and Constantinos Poulos can fly the flag created by their father in honour of their grandparents who assisted in building this nation to where it is today!
*Looking for Alibrandi - Melina Marchetta
Looking for Alibrandi is the story of Josie Alibrandi's experiences at school, and her relationships with friends and family during her last year at St Martha’s girls’ school. In the year that the novel is set, her father comes back into her life, the year she falls in love and discovers the secrets of her family's past.
Josie tells us the story of her struggles with her Italian-Australian identity and the highs and lows of teenage life. It’s the story of a young girl who feels she doesn’t belong. As the novel unfolds, she learns to cope with these feelings of insecurity and learns that everyone has similar feelings at different times.
Looking for Alibrandi is an analysis of multi-cultural Australia and the struggles that each generation of immigrants has with finding their place in Australian society and defining their identity. Josie, Christina, Nonna Katia and in fact all of the characters have a story to tell about culture in Australian society.
Teacher, journalist, poet and author, Sydney NSW Australia
‘Andrew’ Anargyros Vretos Fatseas
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