Banknotes of the Australian dollar

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The banknotes of the Australian dollar were first issued on 14 February 1966, when Australia adopted decimal currency.

Former series (paper)[edit]

The $5 note was not issued until May 1967.[1] The $1 (10/-), $2 (£1), $10 (£5), and $20 (£10) had exact exchange rates with pounds and were a similar colour to the notes they replaced, but the $5 (£2/10) did not, and so was introduced after the public had become familiar with decimal currency. Notes issued between 1966 and 1973 bore the title "Commonwealth of Australia". Starting from 1974, the title on the new notes only read "Australia" and the legal tender phrase was also changed from "Legal Tender throughout the Commonwealth of Australia and the territories of the Commonwealth" to "This Australian Note is legal tender throughout Australia and its territories". The $50 note was introduced in 1973 and the $100 note in 1984, in response to inflation requiring larger denominations for transactions. The one dollar note was replaced by a coin in 1984, while the two dollar note was replaced by a smaller coin in 1988. Although no longer printed, all previous issues of Australian dollar banknotes are considered legal tender.[2]

Paper Series[3]
Image Value Dimensions Main Colour Description Date of issue
Front Back Front Back
Australian $1 note paper front.jpg Australian $1 note paper back.jpg $1 140 × 70 mm Brown and orange Queen Elizabeth II David Malangi (artwork) 1966
1966 Australian $2 note front.jpg 1966 Australian $2 note back.jpg $2 145 × 71 mm Green and yellow John Macarthur William Farrer 1966
Australian $5 note paper front.jpg Australian $5 note paper back.jpg $5 152 × 76 mm Mauve Sir Joseph Banks Caroline Chisholm 1967
Australian $10 note paper front.jpg Australian $10 note paper back.jpg $10 155 × 76 mm Blue and orange Francis Greenway Henry Lawson 1966
Australian $20 note paper front.jpg Australian $20 note paper back.jpg $20 160 × 81 mm Red and yellow Sir Charles Kingsford Smith Lawrence Hargrave 1966
Australian $50 note paper front.jpg Australian $50 note paper back.jpg $50 165 × 82 mm Gold, blue, brown and green Howard Florey, Baron Florey Sir Ian Clunies Ross 1973
100 dollar note front.jpg Discovery 100 dollar note back bigJohn Tebbutt.jpg $100 172 × 82.5 mm Light blue and grey Sir Douglas Mawson John Tebbutt 1984
These images are to scale at 0.7 pixels per millimetre.

Current series (polymer)[edit]

In 1988, the Reserve Bank of Australia issued plastic, specifically polypropylene polymer banknotes (which were produced by Note Printing Australia), to commemorate the bicentenary of European settlement in Australia. These notes contained a transparent "window" with an optically variable image of Captain James Cook as a security feature. Australian banknotes were the first in the world to use such features. All current Australian banknotes also contain Microprinting for further security.

First series (1988)[4]
1988 commemorative polymer note - obverse 1988 commemorative polymer note - reverse

There were initial difficulties with the first banknote issued; the $10 note (pictured above) had problems with the holographic security feature detaching from the note. However, the Reserve Bank saw potential in the issue of plastic banknotes and commenced preparations for an entirely new series made from polymer, commencing with the $5 note in 1992. In 1995, the design of the $5 note was updated to match the rest of the New Note Series, with additional slight changes in 1996. In 2001, a special commemorative $5 note was produced, but in 2002, the previous version's production commenced again.

From 2002, the design of all notes (except for the $5 note picturing the Queen) was slightly changed to include the names of the people pictured on them under the portraits, and swapping the order of the signatures of officials on the notes.

Today all Australian notes are made of polymer.

Second series (1992–present)[5]
Image Value Dimensions4 Weight4 Main Colour Description Date of
Front Back Front Back Transparent Window Image Embossing5 printing issue
Australian original $5 polymer front.JPG Australian original $5 polymer back.JPG Original $51 130 mm × 65 mm × 0.1130 mm 0.764 g Pale mauve[6] Queen Elizabeth II Parliament House and old Parliament House Gum flower none 1992–1993 7 July 1992
Australian $5 polymer front.jpg Australian $5 polymer back.jpg Recoloured $5 130 mm × 65 mm × 0.1256 mm 0.783 g Violet/pink Currently printing 24 April 1995
Australian 5note front (new).jpg Australian 5note back (new).jpg Federation $52 130 mm × 65 mm × 0.1259 mm 0.815 g Sir Henry Parkes Catherine Helen Spence Leaf shaped window "5" 2001 1 January 2001
Australian $10 polymer front.jpg Australian $10 polymer back.jpg $103 137 mm × 65 mm × 0.1294 mm 0.841 g Blue Banjo Paterson Dame Mary Gilmore Windmill Wavy lines Currently printing 1 November 1993
Australian $20 polymer front.jpg Australian $20 polymer back.jpg $20 144 mm × 65 mm × 0.1332 mm 0.900 g Red Mary Reibey Reverend John Flynn Compass "20" Currently printing 31 October 1994
Australian $50 polymer front.jpg Australian $50 note polymer back.jpg $50 151 mm × 65 mm × 0.1400 mm 0.955 g Yellow David Unaipon Edith Cowan Southern Cross "50" Currently printing 4 October 1995
Australian $100 polymer front.jpg Australian $100 polymer back.jpg $100 158 mm × 65 mm × 0.1408 mm 1.006 g Green Dame Nellie Melba Sir John Monash Lyre Bird "100" Currently printing 15 May 1996
These images are to scale at 0.7 pixels per millimetre.
  1. Some members of the public had difficulties in differentiating between the $5.00 and $10.00 notes especially in poor light conditions.
  2. Commemorating the Centenary of Federation. It also features the text of the speech Henry Parkes gave to parliament in favour of federation in microprint, on the side featuring his face.
  3. This note features excerpts of text from Banjo Paterson's most famous poem The Man From Snowy River intertwined with the text "TEN DOLLARS" in microprint on the front, and the text of Mary Gilmore's patriotic poem No Foe Shall Gather Our Harvest on the reverse.
  4. Thickness and weight of notes is +/-5 percent per 1000 notes
  5. Embossing is inside the shiny, transparent window.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Linzmayer, Owen (2013). "Australia". The Banknote Book. San Francisco, CA: 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Renniks Australian Coin and Banknote Values
  4. ^
  5. ^!note/5
  6. ^ Ian W. Pitt, ed. (2000). Renniks Australian Coin and Banknote Values (19th ed. ed.). Chippendale, N.S.W.: Renniks Publications. p. 168. ISBN 0-9585574-4-6. 

External links[edit]

  1. Australian Decimal Banknotes
  2. The Money Tracker site allows users to track Australian banknotes as they circulate around Australia.
  3. The Reserve Bank of Australia has a full timeline of Australian banknotes.