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‘Wombat crossing’ (childrens crossing) sign

  • 1999-2000
This sign has potential for display in exhibitions about the city landscape, advertising and the urban environment. Its significance is located in its design and use as a visual communication tool. It is a pointer to the diversity of use in the city, and of the growing demands placed on our urban environment.

Road signs are now ubiquitous in our urban environment, linked to the development and spread in the twentieth century of motor vehicles and the services that grew to support them. In the 1930s the larger number of vehicles and their increasing speed meant an increasing number of road accidents. The need for regulations to improve traffic flow and safety was recognised, creating a plethora of signs and other car and road side related material. Individual petrol companies developed advertising signs that became well known like the Shell sign and the Mobil Flying Pegasus. To achieve a consistent approach to road signage in Australia the Standards Association of Australia issued the Standard Road sign code in 1935 (1).

Australian road signs are based on the Australian Standards AS1743 and 1744 which contain manufacturing standards for signs and details of standard alphabets.

Most countries now use pictorial symbols to help international travellers navigate with few problems. A standard set of international pictorial symbols has been developed for most road conditions and speed limits making use of signs, symbols and arrows to provide easy identification and clarity of instruction.

Some of the types of traffic signs used on Australian roads are reflected in this collection. Regulatory signs: informing road users about traffic laws or regulations. Temporary warning signs: mainly used on road work sites to warn road users of temporary hazardous conditions which could endanger road users, personnel or plant engaged in the road works. Recreational signs: used to inform the public of rules and regulations as well as to direct people to various facilities and structures located within those areas. Warning signs: used to warn traffic of potentially hazardous conditions.

This is one of the regulatory signs that informs road users about traffic laws or regulations that if not complied with would be an offence.

Signs, including road signs have become part of the contemporary visual landscape with Australian artists like Rosalie Gascoigne and Richard Tipping commenting and playing with their form and meaning.

1p 77, Cass, Terry, Thematic history of Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA), Roads and Traffic Authority, 2006

Further reading
Cass, Terry Thematic history of Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA),


Object No.


Object Statement

Road sign, 'Wombat Crossing' (Children's crossing), painted aluminium, made by Artcraft for the Roads and Traffic Authority, Australia, 1999-2000

Physical Description

Road sign, 'Wombat Crossing' (Children's crossing), painted aluminium, made by Artcraft for the Roads and Traffic Authority, Australia, 1999-2000

This white sign has pictured on it of three green ants holding up a red sign showing the words 'Wombat crossing' in yellow. Then in black text from top to bottom, 'STOP at the line' with a graphic of a red echidna stopping at a yellow line, 'LOOK' with a graphic of a brown kangaroo looking 'LISTEN' with the graphic of a grey Koala listening, 'WAIT' until it is safe to cross' featuring a brown possum, 'WALK and keep looking and listening' with the graphic of a brown platypus.
The RTA logo appears on the bottom left corner.



420 mm


300 mm



  • 1999-2000


Made by Artcraft.



This sign is part of the collection borrowed from the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) in 2001 for display in the exhibition 'Ecologic: creating a sustainable future' .

There is a continuum of signage starting with Roman milestones, massive tall columns that showed travellers how far they were from Rome and what direction they should follow. During the Middle Ages street signs became more advanced and many intersections in European countries had signs pointing the way to cities and towns, sometimes including distances.

Early in the 20th century, the combination of signs for cyclists, weight restriction signs, and direction signs erected by local authorities meant that there were about 4,000 different signs on British roads. They were not of standard design, there were no regulations to restrict their use, and they were becoming so common that they were ignored by road users! Motorists needed more warning signs, as they could travel much faster than cyclists and horses.
In 1903, the Motor Car Act made legislative provision for local authorities to erect their own warning signs.

In 1908 the International Road Congress met in Rome to discuss signage on European roads. Out of this meeting came four pictorial signs that were to be displayed noting road conditions. The first four road signs in modern times were the 'bump', 'curve', 'intersection', and 'railroad crossing' signs. These four signs constituted the first European road signage system.

The intensive work on international road signs that took place between 1926 and 1949 eventually led to the development of the European road signage system. The United States developed its own road signage system, which was also adopted by several other nations. Beginning in the 1960s, North American signage began adopting international symbols and signs into its system.

With increasing speed of transport, the tendency is for countries to adopt pictorial signs or otherwise simplify and standardise signs, to facilitate international travel where language differences can create barriers and in general to reduce the risks in driving. Such pictorial signs use symbols in place of words and are usually a result of international standards. Such signs were first developed in Europe and been adopted by most countries to varying degrees.
New generations of traffic signs are based on big electronic displays that can also change their symbols and provide intelligent behaviour by means of sensors or by remote control. These "road beacon systems" are based on the use of RFID transponders buried in the asphalt to allow for on-board signalling and interaction between the car and the road.

Yet another way of transferring information ordinarily associated with visible signs is RIAS Remote Infared Audible Signage for print -handicapped (including blind/low-vision/illiterate) people. These are infra-red transmitters serving the same purpose as the usual graphic signs when received by an appropriate device such as a hand-held receiver or one built into a cell phone.

1p 77, Cass, Terry, Thematic history of Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA), Roads and Traffic Authority, 2006

Further reading
Cass, Terry Thematic history of Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA),


Credit Line

Gift of Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA), 2010

Acquisition Date

17 August 2010

Cite this Object


'Wombat crossing' (childrens crossing) sign 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 26 October 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title='Wombat crossing' (childrens crossing) sign |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=26 October 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}


This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.