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The standard currency of Australia is the Australian dollar. The currency comes in coins named cents and bills named dollars. Five, 10, 20, and 50 cent coins are commonly used and it is also possible to find one and two dollar coins, although these are not as common in distribution. Bills are available in 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollar sets and come in a range of colors.
An interesting historical fact about Australian currency is that plastic polymer was first used to create a full system of bank notes in Australia. No other country made use of plastic bank notes before Australia did, but many have since adopted the system due to the much greater security these notes provide against counterfeiters. Polymer bank notes are also said to last up to four times as long as traditional fibrous paper notes do, which makes them cheaper to produce in the long term as well as more environmentally friendly.
Historically, the decimal currency was introduced by the federal government on Valentine’s Day in 1966, while the first polymer bank notes were introduced into general distribution in 1988. It was not until 1996 that the full set of Australian bills became available in polymer notes. Today Australia regularly prints polymer notes that are used in several other countries, as the technology for polymer notes was first created in Australia.
Currency may be exchanged in a variety of locations in Australia, including hotels, banks, and currency exchanges. Hotels tend to exchange money solely for guests, but banks will exchange money for a small fee for anyone with a passport. The larger metropolitan areas such as Sydney and Brisbane are more likely to accept the European Euro and the American dollar than more rural areas, so travelers in rural areas are advised to do their exchanges ahead of time.
Each coin denomination in Australian currency provides a reference to either an animal found in Australia or a symbolic representation of the country. The 5 cent coin shows an echidna, which, along with the platypus, is the only mammal on earth that lays eggs. The 10 cent coin shows a male dancing lyrebird. The 20 cent coin shows a platypus. The 50 cent coin shows the coat of arms of Australia. The $1 coin shows five kangaroos. The $2 coin shows an Aboriginal tribal elder.
The bill denominations in Australian currency refer to famous people in the history of the country. The $5 note includes a depiction of Queen Elizabeth II on the face and the House of Parliament, which is located in Canberra, on the reverse. Canberra is also the national capital of Australia.
The $10 note is dedicated to poets and features Banjo Paterson on the face and Dame Mary Gilmore on the reverse. A special feature of the $10 note is the inclusion of small printed excerpts on the face and the reverse of some of the poems written by both Paterson and Gilmore.
The $20 note indicates the colorful history of the Australian country. The face shows the Reverend John Flynn, who is credited with founding the Royal Flying Doctor Service, which was the first aerial medical service created anywhere in the world. The reverse of the note shows Mary Reibey, a philanthropist and enterprising shipping manager who first arrived in Australia as a banned convict.
The $50 note is dedicated to writers and members of parliament, including Edith Cowan on the face and David Unaipon on the reverse. Finally, the $100 note displays a noted General Sir Jon Monash on the face and opera singer Dame Nellie Melba on the reverse.