The People On Australian Money

The People On Australian Money

Ever wondered who those people are on Australian money? We walk around all day with their faces in our wallets and purses but many Aussies abroad don’t know who they actually are. We’ve done the work so you can put a name to the face.

Recently, I was having a beer in a bar in New York and behind the bar was a collection of notes displayed from around the world and I donated an Australian $10 note. The chatty bar tender took the note and commented that it’s made from plastic and I proudly informed her that it was actually polymer and an Australian invention, I continued in my proud defiance that Australia’s banknotes are virtually impossible to counterfeit. She looked pretty impressed and then quizzed me on the people featured on the note, I nearly fell backwards off my chair because I couldn’t answer her question. I must have looked pretty stupid not knowing the people on Australian money.

Don’t let that happen to you! Ozzies Abroad looks at the characters on our currency.

Interesting Fact: The side of the note/coin with the head or principle design is called the Obverse, The other side is the Reverse.

The Fiver

The People On Australian Money
Looking young!

I wish I was cheap and gave the bar tender a $5 note, it’s Queen Elizabeth of course and it’s the only note with just one person on it.

Interestingly, as we age so does the Queen, her image shows her aging so a coin from 1992 shows a younger queen than today. Check it out!

There is approximately 170 million $5 notes in circulation worth $851 million.

The People On Australian MoneyThe Tenner

A.K.A “The Pavarotti” because Luciano Pavarotti is a Tenor.

A rather poetic note.

Obverse: Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson 1864-1962. Banjo Patterson was an Australian bush poet, ballad writer, journalist, horseman and author. He didn’t put pen to paper until he was 30 years old but famously wrote poems such as “Waltzing Matilda” and “The Man From The Snowy River”.

Reverse: Dame Mary Gilmore 1865-1962. She was a popular writer who lived her life like a celebrity. She was involved in the birth of the labour movement and campaigned against inequality and deprivation. Interestingly, she moved to Paraguay and started the New Australia colony but later returned to Australia when the Utopian ideology didn’t live up to her expectations. She was regarded as one of Australia’s most popular poets for over 50 years.

There’s approximately 120 million $10 notes in circulation worth almost $1.2 billion.

The Redback

The People On Australian Money
One Tough Old Sheila!

A.K.A “The Lobster” because of it’s red/pink color is the $20 note.

Obverse: Mary Reiby 1777-1865. She actually arrived to Australia in 1792 as a convict because she stole a horse. After serving her time she became a business woman. She took over her late husbands enterprises in 1811 and made her mark as a successful shipping magnate, ship owner and trader. She shared the fruits of her success amongst charities, the church and raising the level of public education.

Reverse: Reverend John Flynn 1880-1951. Founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and world’s first air ambulance. He had great vision and assembled many bush hospitals. Many Australian’s would’ve traveled as far as 500 kilometres, often painfully on horseback for medical treatment and reverend Flynn helped to bridge that gap.

There’s approximately 160 million $20 notes in circulation worth almost $3.2 billion.


A.K.A “The Big Pineapple” because of it’s yellow color is the $50 note.

Obverse: David Unaipon 1872-1967. An indigenous Australian, preacher, inventor and writer. Unaipon took out patents on 19 inventions including an anti-gravity device, a multi-radial wheel, the centrifugal motor and a sheep-shearing handpiece.The People On Australian Money He was known as the Australian Leonardo Di Vinci because he patented a helicopter design based on the principles of a Boomerang. Interestingly, he spoke in formal classical English rather than the commonly spoken English.

Reverse: Edith Cowan 1861-1932. The first woman to serve in Parliament. Cowan was a social reformer that worked for the rights of women and children. In 1991 the Western Australian College Of Advanced Education was renamed Edith Cowan University (ECU).
There are approximately 643 million $50 notes in circulation worth over $32 billion.

The Hungee

A.K.A “The Bradman” reflecting Sir Donald Bradman’s number of test centuries. Yes, It’s the $100 note.

The People On Australian MoneyObverse: Dame Nellie Melba 1861-1931. She was a famous international singer long before Kylie. An operatic soprano and the first Australian to achieve recognition on an international stage. She took the name “Melba’ from her hometown of Melbourne.

Reverse: Sir John Monash 1865-1931. He is considered one of the best generals in the First world war and he is an Aussie. His impressive career saw him fight in seven campaigns including Gallipoli, France and the Western Front.

There are approximately 149 million $100 notes in circulation worth almost $15 billion.

To see best options on transferring money to and from Australia. Click HERE.

There You have It

Other people that have appeared on our discontinued notes include Sir Joseph Banks, Caroline Chisholm, Captain James Cook, Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, Norman Lindsay and John McArther.

There’s so many characters to be proud of in Australian history so don’t get caught out not knowing the people on Australian money like I did. Remember, It’s all about bragging rights. Thanks for reading and get vocal in the comments section below.

See Ya later!

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6 Replies to “The People On Australian Money”

  1. I never knew anything about Australian money. In the U.S. we have our dead presidents and that is all I know. it this was a great lesson on the history of Australian money. The fact that your bills in Australia are consider notes and dollar bills is interesting enough. But on one side it has one face and on the other is another person. I think that is cool.

  2. You know, I was in Perth a couple times while I was in the Navy, and I always wondered who all the people were. It’s very interesting to see how the Australian monetary system chose the people who would be the face of their money. I cringe every day thinking of who our government will put on ours next! Very cool! Thanks…


  3. Very interesting, I’m from the UK so the Queen is on everything. I was surprised to hear the Queen is on Australian money. It’s also interesting that you have so many names, some I recognise and some I don’t. I am now wondering who is on the money in Jamaica, that’s where my parents are from. History is in our hands and we don’t know it .

    1. Hi Jamila, as Australia is part of the Commonwealth therefore the Queen is on our coins. Jamaica is a Commonwealth country, with Queen Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. Therefore, I dare say that the Queen is also on the coins there. If you are interested in History check out our article This Month In Australian History.

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