Not even Sherlock Holmes at his most forensic would be able to find traces of anything especially Canberran (or even Australian) on the existing Canberra Coat of Arms.
But just a glance at this new, proposed Canberra and ACT Coat of Arms shows that it abounds in ACT gifts, rich and rare.
Its designer Steven Squires, deputy convener of the ACT branch of the Australian Republican Movement, has taken me on a tour of his creation. He points to the gang-gang cockatoo and to the row of Royal Bluebells, the ACT's floral emblem.
"Then, the Federation Star represents the ACT as the seat of the Australian capital. The black swans are a prominent bird in the ACT and support the shield.
"The blue and gold torse represent the official colours of the ACT. The rising sun symbolises the achievements of the ACT, along with optimism for its future. And, of course, the mountains are the Brindabellas, representing the ACT's natural environment and the hilly mountainous terrain in the Territory."
"The [Aboriginal] meeting place symbol represents the ACT region as a meeting place throughout Australian history; as a meeting place for indigenous Australians in the pre-colonial era, a meeting place of representatives of Australian parliament and society, and as a meeting place for the many cultures that now form the ACT's multicultural society."
And before we go any further and to head off the heraldry pedants, we pipe up that although the funny old existing coat of arms belongs strictly to Canberra and not to the ACT, Squires is proposing that any new coat of arms should be the ACT's, embracing our city, too.
So, what is Squires, a staffer for a Labor MLA (but a person, and a pro-republic one, in his own right), up to with this design?
He is one of many thinking, progressive Canberrans long dissatisfied with the absurdly British coat of arms of Canberra. Across the years, we have known it to cause many eruptions of "arms rage".
"To me as a republican," Squires testifies, "our coat of arms should reflect who we are. But the existing one doesn't match the identity of modern-day Canberra. When you look at it, there's nothing about it that makes you think of Canberra."
How true. The existing coat of arms granted to us in 1928 by King George V boasts, among other things, an Imperial Crown, an English medieval castle and portcullis, and an English rose (the Rose of York representing the Duke of York, who in 1927 graciously declared Canberra the seat of government).
There is an English, white, mute swan, not native to Australia and of course a royal bird in the sense that all mute swans are the property of the regal tenant of Buckingham Palace.
And, strangely, the black swan in the current Canberra arms is meant to represent not the fauna of these bush parts but (gasp) black Australians, the Aboriginals. The European white, mute swan represents the European settlers.
The motto, a knotter of the knickers of intense republicans, is "For the Queen, the Law and the People" which is the English translation of the Latin "Pro Rege, Lege et Grege." As you can see, Squires' revolutionary new design takes that royal guernsey away from that unremarkable foreign family on whom far too many deluded, anglophile Australians still dote.
Squires would like his design to stimulate some thought on the subject and if you like his design or have warmed to the idea of a new coat of arms, you can join an ACT Legislative Assembly e-petition. https://epetitions.act.gov.au/CurrentEPetition.aspx?PetId=34&lIndex=-1. Go to the Assembly's website, go to "In your Assembly" then scroll down to "e-Petitions".
Squires quite likes the idea that his design might go, as it is, into any kind of tournament of designs (perhaps of the kind the progressive New Zealanders have had as they dare to imagine a flag without the Union Jack). But he is also open to suggestions of how his might be amended and improved.
We wondered, teasing him, if a place might be found in the coat of arms for the Powl, the Powerful Owl of Turner. We also pointed out to him the sexism of his depiction of a male gang-gang cockatoo and it emerges that, yes, the sensitive Squires agonised over this and tried in vain to fit a male and a female gang-gang into the design and even, instead, an adrogynous baby cockatoo. But he had not been able to make those wheezes fit and work.
We would like ideas, if possible, for Canberra arms designs that humanise the escutcheon a little by making some mention of human Canberrans and their achievements or constructions.
Squires' design is for us really, a little too outdoorsy, subalpine, wild and windswept. It exhausts a little, like a demanding bushwalk.
Instead, there could be the recognisable face of a famous Canberran (preferably a dead one, for a famous living Canberran, like, say, Nick Kyrgios, may yet bring unforseen scandals). What of folk, for example Marion Mahony Griffin and Walter Burley Griffin, of iconic importance to our metropolis?
Perhaps, instead of the ye olde un-Canberran shield, but still supported by the black swans, there could be one of Canberra's signature bus shelters as immortalised by Trevor Dickinson in his greeting cards, fridge magnets and, most collectible of all, his bus-shelter-shaped coffee mugs.