Australia’s Banknotes

Here we arm you with some useful information about some notable Aussies. The people on our banknotes – who the bloody hell are they?

$5 – QEII. She’s not Australian. Move on…

$10 – Dame Mary Gilmore (1865-1962) was a writer and socialist passionate about workers’ rights and the welfare of women, children and Indigenous Australians. She once had a thing with balladist Henry Lawson. Interesting woman… And on the other side is Banjo Paterson (1864-1941). Yes, he penned Waltzing Matilda and The Man From Snowy River, but do yourself a favour and read this.

$20 – Mary Reibey’s (1777-1855) picture makes her look like an old granny, but she was fierce. Coming to Australia as a convict, she was widowed early, raised seven kids and ran many successful trading businesses (think coal, timber and skins/fur). Becoming rich, she put a lot into charity. On the flipside, there’s John Flynn (1880-1951), the Presbyterian minister who founded the forerunner to the Royal Flying Doctor Service – the world’s first air ambulance.

$50 – The pineapple… There’s Edith Cowan (1861-1932) who was the first woman elected to an Australian parliament. Overcoming early setbacks (her mother died when she was 7yo, and at 15yo her father was hanged for murdering her step-mother), Cowan campaigned for the rights of women and children and won a seat in the WA Parliament in 1921. David Unaipon (1872-1967) graces the other side. He was an Indigenous inventor with a thing for perpetual motion. One of his claims to fame was that his work contributed to the development of the helicopter.

$100 – Dame Nellie Melba (1861-1931) – a diva/prima donna with a (nearly) three-octave range. The soprano was a legit international celeb/big deal in her day. And Sir John Monash (1865-1931), the civil-engineer-turned-war-general, is on the other side of the bill you’ll rarely see. He has recently been discussed for political reasons as well as historical.

And of course, the notes themselves are worth a mention. The CSIRO developed our polymer banknotes that have world-leading security features to help fight currency forgery. And they’re more durable, environmentally friendly and less likely to carry dirt and disease than paper notes. Pretty clever, huh?

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