Australian money

Nankeen Kestrel
Ningaloo Reef Diving

Maybe I should have titled this post “plastic money” because that is exactly what the Australian paper money is made out of – Plastic! When you hold it in your hand it has about the consistency of a grocery store plastic bag but a bit thicker. After you handle some of this “plastic money” for a while you begin to realize the utility of it: it is almost indestructible. I’ve run some of these bills through the wash and they come out no worse than a credit card. You can fold the bills, get them wet, crumple them and they bounce back like brand new. I’ve even tried to tear a bill with no luck; the bill stretches a bit and then snaps back to its original form.

In the photo above I have (I think) the front of the bills; the Queen shows on the 5 dollar bill. The photo below has the backs of the bills. Who all these people are – I have no idea. If you are Australian and you know anything about any of these people, do leave a message and share with us.

The bills are slightly different in size – the $5 is the smallest and each subsequent denomination is larger in size. The colors are quite bright and reminded me of Monopoly money. It didn’t spend like Monopoly money though, a $5 note costs $5.50 American and the prices were higher than in most parts of America.

Sadly, Australia ditched their $1 note to “save money” because notes wear out faster than coins and the $1 note wears out the fastest. It makes sense as they are the smallest denomination and are handled the most. But I believe that the $1 note was ditched before Australia switched to bullet-proof plastic money. Plastic money would have probably lasted as long as the coins. Recently, I saw another plan by the USgov.gov to replace the $1 note with $1 coins because the notes wear out so fast. Hello US Treasury! Switch to plastic notes, they’ll be digging these things up 10,000 years from now and they’ll look as good as the day they were printed. I think that plastic $1 notes are a lot easier to carry than a pocket full of $1 coins.

By the end of the week I’d have maybe $12 or $14 in coins in my pocket; I should go to the chiropractor as my pocket full of coins made me lean over to one side and threw my back out of alignment. Coins are a pain in the arse and getting rid of $1 bills is a bad idea.

The Aussie coins above, you start to notice a trend; on the front side of each coin is the Queen’s profile. I recently saw a British comedian who was speaking at an engagement when the Queen was in attendance, he looked up at her balcony box, pondered for a second and then said, “That’s right, I need to get to the Post Office to buy some stamps.”

The coins – if I remember correctly, from left to right, the $2 coin, $1, .50 cent, .20 cent, .10 cent, and last on the right is the $.05 cent coin. Strangely, the $2 coin is half the weight of the $1 coin and I would regularly try to pay a $2 coin for a $1 check. Maybe the $2 was invented later and they were trying to save production costs and weight?

I would often call the .05 cent piece a “nickel” and the .10 cent piece a “dime,” to the odd looks of Australians. “A dime? That’s a ten cent piece.” Geez, its a lot faster to say dime or nickel than five-cent-piece or ten-cent-piece. A got a lot of ribbing for using the terms “nickel” and “dime,” and inevitably we would end up talking about coins, their size and weight. I was critical that the size of the $2 coin was smaller than the $1 coin and I was ribbed back a few times that our nickel is bigger than our penny and dime. A few times we talked about other countries that used $1 and $2 coins – including Canada who affectionately call their dollar coins the “Looney” and the “Tooney.”

I told some Australians that the Canucks call their dollar and two dollar coins the Looney and Tooney and no one believed me! They asked for an explanation and I told them that the Canadian $1 coin has a Loon bird on it (hence the “Looney”) and the two dollar coin was then nick-named the “Looney.” None of the believed me and it wasn’t until Andrea and I were in Vancouver was I able to get her to believe that the Canadians had nick-names for their dollar coins.


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Nankeen Kestrel
Ningaloo Reef Diving

2 thoughts on “Australian money

  1. The man on the $10 is Andrew “Banjo” Paterson, who wrote “Waltzing Matilda” and other poems, and the building on the $5 is Parliament House in Canberra. Although you don’t have it pictured, the $100 has Sir John Monash, a World War 1 general of whom I am a bit of a fan, but I’m afraid that’s all I can remember off the top of my head :)

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