Saturday, August 13, 2011

Show Me the Money

When we first arrived in Australia, we carried cash on a daily basis. Now, we have Aussie credit cards and bus passes and the need for cash has somewhat dimmed. I still get excited, though, when I have to get money out of the ATM. It's so colorful! Not pictured above is the $100 dollar bill which is a lovely green color, or colour as it is spelled here.

One of the first things I noticed about the bills, other than their vibrancy, is that they are different sizes. You can sort of tell from the picture above that they increase in length based on their denomination. Definitely different from American dollars. And yes, the bills are called dollars. Since we've been here, the Aussie dollar has been very strong. To our detriment, actually, because we lost money when we converted our American money to Aussie money.

The money has a whole slew of new historical figures for us to learn.  According to the Australian government's currency website,
The $100 note features world-renowned soprano Dame Nellie Melba (1861–1931), and the distinguished soldier, engineer and administrator General Sir John Monash (1865–1931).

The $50 note features Aboriginal writer and inventor David Unaipon (1872–1967), and Australia’s first female parliamentarian, Edith Cowan (1861–1932).

The $20 note features the founder of the world’s first aerial medical service (the Royal Flying Doctor Service), the Reverend John Flynn (1880–1951), and Mary Reibey (1777–1855), who arrived in Australia as a convict in 1792 and went on to become a successful shipping magnate and philanthropist.

The $10 note features the poets AB ‘Banjo’ Paterson (1864–1941) and Dame Mary Gilmore (1865–1962). This note incorporates micro-printed excerpts of Paterson’s and Gilmore’s work.

The $5 note features Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Parliament House in Canberra, the national capital.
I just love that they include an equal number of women on their bills!

From l to r: 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, 1 dollar, 2 dollar.  Coins are almost but not quite to scale.

Australian coins also differ quite a lot from American coins.  There are no pennies here.  $1 and $2 coins are very common.  All of the coins have a picture of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the front.  The reverse side of most of the coins have native animals depicted on them.  Here is the Australian government's website's description of the coin designs:

The 5 cent coin depicts an echidna, or spiny anteater, one of only two egg-laying mammals in the world.

The 10 cent coin features a male lyrebird dancing. A clever mimic, the lyrebird inhabits the dense, damp forests of Australia’s eastern coast.

The 20 cent coin carries a platypus, the world’s only other egg-laying mammal. It has webbed feet and a duck-like bill that it uses to hunt for food along the bottom of streams and rivers.

The 50 cent coin carries Australia’s coat of arms: the six state badges on a central shield supported by a kangaroo and an emu, with a background of Mitchell grass.

The $1 coin, which replaced the $1 note in 1984, depicts five kangaroos. The standard $1 design, along with the 50, 20, 10 and 5 cent designs, was created by the Queen’s official jeweller, Stuart Devlin.

The $2 coin, which replaced the two dollar note in 1988, depicts an Aboriginal tribal elder set against a background of the Southern Cross constellation and native grasstrees.

That's all for today's numismatic lesson.  If you made it all the way through, we're impressed!


  1. Wow- I love the coins. I didn't know Australia hat the only two egg laying mammals. I guess I didn't even realize that mammals could lay eggs. Guess there is an exception to every rule?

  2. Haha I love that they put crazy cool Australian creatures on the coins - very nice!

  3. Love that they celebrate important women through their currency!


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