the establishment of the first colony of New South Wales in 1788, the
need for currency soon became apparent. Convicts received no wages and
the early settlers and military personnel had their needs supplied from
communal stores. With only a small quantity of English and foreign coins
brought with the First Fleet, most of the dealings in the first few
years consisted of bartering, with rum being the main means of exchange.
Handwritten notes of credit, issued by government officials and backed
by the English treasury, were a common form of currency, but these were
subject to counterfeiting and devaluation. The earliest currency used
was English money, and also the Spanish dollar brought by the early
ships. Because of the shortage of English money, and to prevent the
Spanish dollars being taken back on the ships, Governor Macquarie had
their centres cut out and they became known as 'holey dollars', while
the cores became 'dumps'. In 1813 they had "New South Wales 1813" stamped
on them, with "Five Shillings" on the reverse side. The 'dump' had "New
South Wales 1813" stamped on their cleaned and smoothed surface with
"Fifteen Pence" on the reverse side.
In 1817 the Bank of New South Wales was established. The first issue
of banknotes comprised five shillings, ten shillings, one pound and
five pounds and paper tokens for one shilling, one shilling and sixpence,
two shillings, and two shillings and sixpence.
1825 the British Government imposed the sterling standard throughout
its Empire and English coins were minted in Australia.
In 1901, following Federation, the British silver and bronze coins continued
in use but in 1910 Australian Commonwealth silver coins were introduced.
In 1911 bronze pennies and halfpennies were introduced. In 1913 the
first series of Australian notes was issued, based on the old British
currency was introduced on 14 February 1966. Dollars and cents replaced
the pounds, shillings and pence. The new coinage consisted of silver
The 5c, 10c, 20c and 50c coins are made of 75% copper and 25% nickel.
The $1 and $2 coins are made of 92% copper, 6% aluminium and 2% nickel.
1913 there have been seven series of Australian notes issued. The present
series of Australian notes is the first in the world to be printed on
polymer substrate instead of paper. It consists of $5, $10, $20, $50
and $100 denominations.
A $1 note ceased to be issued following the introduction of a $1 coin
on 14 May 1984.
Similarly, a $2 note was withdrawn following the introduction of a $2
coin on 20 June 1988.
Australia issued the world's first polymer note, a $10 commemorative
note, in January 1988, to mark Australia's bicentenary. This note incorporated
radical new technology developed in Australia and set the scene for
a new era of currency notes in the world.
all of Australia's paper based notes were converted to polymer in an
effort to prevent counterfeiting. The
technology which produced the notes was developed in Australia.