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Guide to the Australian Dollar

October 5, 2017 AUD / Australian Dollar

Guide to the AUD

Guide to the AUD

A Complete Guide to the Australian Dollar

Looking to buy Australian dollars (AUD)? Or just interested in learning more about the history of this famous currency? CurrencyFair have created this handy guide to Australian currency.

Symbol: $ or A$ to differentiate it from other dollar currencies
Nickname: The ‘Aussie’
Subunits: Cents
Where it’s used: The Australian dollar is the official currency in Australia, including some surrounding regions such as Norfolk Island and Christmas Island
Coin denominations: 5c, 10c 20c, 50c $1, $2
Note denominations: $5, $10, $20, $50, $100

Want to convert your currency into AUD? Find out how much you could get with our currency converter.

Features of the AUD

Australian Coins

Every current Australian dollar coin features a portrait of Her Majesty the Queen, designed by Ian Rank-Broadley. The standard 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c and $1 coins were matched with designs by the Queen’s jeweller, Stuart Devlin, on the tail side, while the reverse of the $2 coin was designed by Horst Hahne.

$1 – Five kangaroos
$2 – An Aboriginal tribal elder in front of the Southern Cross and native grass trees

50c – Australia’s coat of arms supported by a kangaroo and an emu
20c – A platypus
10c – A dancing male lyrebird
5c – An echidna

Australian Notes

In 1996, Australia was the first country to have a full set of polymer notes. Australian dollar banknotes are brightly coloured and feature iconic figures who’ve made great contributions to the nation.

$5 – This violet/pink banknote features a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and Canberra’s Parliament House.
$10 – This blue note features poet Banjo Paterson and Dame Mary Gilmore.
$20 – This orange $20 note shows Reverend John Flynn, founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Mary Reibey who was transported to Australia as a convict but later became a successful businesswoman.
$50 – In yellow, this note features writer and inventor David Unaipon and Edith Cowan, the first woman elected into Australian parliament.
$100 – This green note shows soprano Dame Nellie Melba and WW1 Australian military commander General Sir John Monash.

$1 and $2 were once banknotes, but as they circulated so quickly, they had a very short lifespan and were replaced by more hard-wearing coins – $1 in 1984 and $2 in 1998 – which reduced the costs of maintaining the currency.

History of the AUD

The Australian Dollar may be the current currency of the Commonwealth of Australia, but what came before it?

Australian currency can be traced back to the rum trade in the 1800s, but Australia’s first coinage – the ‘dump’ and the ‘holey dollar’ – was issued in 1813. From there they saw the introduction of paper money, sterling in 1825 and the Australian pound in 1910. The pound consisted of 20 shillings to every pound, and 12 pence to every shilling.

In February 1966 the Government introduced the decimalised system and a new currency – the name of which sparked controversy. A public competition asking for names with Australian flair received entries such as the ‘Oz’, the ‘Roo’ and the ‘Digger’, but with no clear consensus, the government went for the ‘Royal’. Following fierce wide-spread opposition, this was quickly changed to the Australian dollar which we recognise today with 100 cents to every dollar.

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