Older Australian Currency for “Our World, Our Numbers”

"Our World, Our Numbers" is a mathematics collaboration project involving 7 classes in 5 countries. The first post was from 4KM and 4KJ in Australia

Australian Currency

Dear 4KM and 4KJ,

A second of your posts for 2013 started me thinking in different directions again.  Did you know when I was your age I used different Australian money to what we have today?

When I was your age, we used pounds, shillings and pence, not dollars and cents. I have some pictures of the money down below. There was also a £10 (10 pound) note but I don’t have one in my collection. While we aren’t allowed to copy our modern money, I think these are okay because the last time they were used was in 1966.

You can click on the pictures to enlarge them.

From left to right...


half penny (ha'penny) equal to about half a cent

penny equal to about 1 cent

Three penny - 3d (thrupence) equal to about 2.5 cents


Sixpence equal to 5 cents

One shilling - 1s equal to 12 pennies and became 10 cents

Florin - two shillings equal to 24 pennies and became 20c

10 shillings - half a pound - 120 pennies - became $1

One Pound - £1 - 20 shillings - 240 pennies - became $2

Five Pound - £5 - 100 shillings - 1200 pennies - became $10

There was a 10 pound (£10) note but I don't have one in my collection. It became $20.

When these pounds (£), shillings (s) and pence (d) were in use and I was your age, my father earned about £20 (20 pounds) a week. That was enough to make payments on the house and car, buy clothes and groceries, save some and go on holidays. That is $40 in today's currency. My pocket money was 1s (one shilling or ten cents) a week. Prices were much lower than today but we earned much less. The money shown above would have been about one third of my father's weekly pay yet it was only £6/13/10 ($13.38). Click below to hear how the money was said...


On the 14th February, 1966, Australia started using decimal currency. We had 6 types of coins and 5 notes. At that time, all notes were paper and not the plastic we use today.

Coins:  1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c

Notes:  $1, $2, $5, $10, $20

Here are pictures of the 1c and 2c coins plus $1 and $2 note no longer used. Australian coins have the face of the ruling monarch on the opposite sides, i.e. Queen Elizabeth II since her coronation in 1952.

1 cent and 2 cent coins

$1 note

$2 note

Australian Decimal Money Timeline

1966 - Decimal currency introduced on February 14

1973 - $50 note introduced

1984 - $1 coin replaces the note

1988 - Australia's first polymer (plastic) notes appeared

1988 - $2 coin replaces the note

1992 - 1c and 2c no longer officially in use

1996 - $100 note introduced


Money Links

Royal Australian Mint

Museum of Australian Currency Notes


* Schools and students have permission to use the graphics on this post for non-commercial, educational purposes.

None of the notes shown are now legal tender.

2 thoughts on “Older Australian Currency for “Our World, Our Numbers”

  1. Mrs Monaghan

    Dear Mr Mannell,
    It’s interesting to see how close your money was to our money in the UK up until 1966. In the UK, we went decimal in 1971, but people still talked about shillings and sixpence and threp’ny bits for quite a while longer! Did you ever have the sixpence and three pence? It seems that Australia is becoming quite an expensive country to live in, and to visit. Would you agree?
    Kind regards,
    Mrs Monaghan
    A Room with a View

  2. rossmannell

    Post author

    Hi Mrs Monaghan,

    Our original currency on becoming a nation in 1901 was very British as was our style of government and much else in life. We’d moved from a collection of British colonies to a commonwealth.

    Our pre-decimal coins are in the first graphic above, including the sixpence and three pence. Early on we also had crowns… very British.

    I read the article regarding expense in Australia. Our grocery sales are dominated by only two supermarket chains. The lack of competition has allowed them to keep increasing prices. It’s a sad state when an Australian made product can be bought more cheaply in New Zealand than in Australia. There doesn’t seem to be the political will to stop this.

    Housing has become very expensive, particularly in Sydney. Median house price is around $600,000. Rural areas are much cheaper but still out of the reach for many.

    The boom we report is not across the entire economy. As an example, our strong dollar has made us less attractive for tourism and overseas travel is more attractive for Aussies. Exports other than minerals have declined for the same reason.

    For those who are cashed up, life seems great but at the other end there are many struggling. When the mineral boom ends, I think we’ll need to adjust.

    Personally, I owe nothing on my home but don’t have the funds for overseas travel. My income comes from a superannuation pension. I could find a paying job to supplement my income but I prefer volunteer and non-profit work. Life is comfortable rather than wealthy and I enjoy hiking in national parks around my town and regular trips to the cinema. Many in the town know me as that guy who makes DVDs for schools and community groups. Am I wealthy? I think I am in all the ways that count… well, I do buy entries in our lotteries so maybe one day in money as well. 🙂



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.