The emu and the kangaroo are on the Australian coat of arms, firstly because they are unique to the Australian continent, and secondly because they represent forward progression. Neither animals believed to be capable of taking a backward step easily.
This belief is reflected in the Australian Government website on the Australian Coat of Arms.
Putting them on the emblem means we “advance Australia” as sung in our national anthem. These creatures symbolise progression forwards.
This is supported by the fact that the scroll on the coat of arms originally read “Advance Australia” (now it just reads”Australia”).
Whether or not the emu can actually walk backwards has been a matter of debate for some time.
Whilst there is nothing in the emu’s physiological makeup to suggest they cannot walk backwards, the fact remains that no emu has ever been observed to walk backwards.
Many cynics believe this is an urban myth. However, even the Australian Government’s website for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade states that “It is thought the kangaroo and emu were chosen to symbolise a nation moving forward, reflecting a common belief that neither animal can move backwards easily.
“It is pertinent to note that the emu and kangaroo were possibly also chosen because they are the most well known Australian animals that are large enough to hold a shield.