6 things you didn’t know about Australian money

We spend a lot of time talking about money yet most of us are unaware of some of the more interesting facts about what goes in your pocket.
Image: © Stephen Gibson - Fotolia.com

We spend a hell of a lot of time talking about money. We touch money, spend money, save money, withdraw money and yet most of us are unaware of some of the more interesting facts behind our physical money (notes and coins) here in Australia.

Here are some of the unknown facts behind Australia’s currency, perfect for those awkward conversations requiring an ice breaker (think the office lifts or at the extended families get together).

Where did the 1 & 2 cent coins go?

Love them or hate them, the one and two cent coins were removed from our national currency back in 1992. Though whatever happened to those millions of bronze coins that we once used to buy 1 cent lollies with? The answer; they were collected, melted down and turned into the bronze medals that were awarded at the Sydney Olympics back in 2000.

Our currency was nearly called ‘royals’

Back in 1966, the Prime Minister of Australia (Sir Robert Menzies) was in midst of converting Australia from using the Australian pound, to a new decimal system.

It was stated that Sir Robert Menzies suggested that the new currency be titled ‘royals’ in what citizens described as a way of showing further loyalty to the Monarch.

Instead the decision stopped at ‘dollars’, though there were some interesting suggestions before that, such as; The Digger, The Roo, The Kanga, The Boomer, The Kwid, The Dinkum and more.

Australia’s plastic bank notes were a world first

Australia was the first country to pioneer the use of plastic money, through the introduction of ‘polymer’ bank notes. This was largely due to the significant cost of issuing new money when paper money is damaged or destroyed.

Many countries can barely believe that Australia’s notes are made of anything but paper. Though the benefits are clear; it is harder to counterfeit, damage, destroy and best yet, can survive the old accidental washing machine incidents.

People often question whether or not you can iron plastic money without melting. In short, you can – though only at mild temperatures. Like many compounds, it can only withstand a certain amount of heat before burning. A sure fire way to burn through your money (pun completely intended).

People pay money, for money.

Did you know that the Australian Mint produces limited edition coins and banknotes that are legal tender, though often in limited edition quantities? Such as the $5 coin that is completely legal tender, yet due to its rarity, is worth far more. This means some investors will pay more than 100x + the legal tender value to simply collect or invest in rare coins and notes. So you pay more money, for less money, in the hope of making more money. Confusing.

Money is not as dirty as you would think

People will often say that money is one of the dirtiest items imaginable. Research at the University of Ballarat however indicates that coins and notes aren’t as dirty as people would believe. While currency does have bacteria present, the researchers were unable to find any overwhelming or deadly quantities of bacteria. Surprisingly salmonella was quite high, though did not pose a great enough risk to researchers.

Damaging money is a crime

Australian coins and bank notes are property of the Government. Any intent to disfigure, deface or mutilate currency is technically punishable by law and carries fines of upwards of $10,000 or 2 years in prison. Remember this next time you try and iron your money people.

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Savings Guide Logo Alex Wilson is the founder and editor of Savings Guide, Australia’s number one saving money website. For regular money saving tips, visit Savings Guide or follow Savings Guide on Facebook.