Australian Dollar - AUD


There are many forms of the dollar in use around the world, and this one is among the best known of them all. The Australian dollar, the Aussie dollar and even occasionally the Pacific peso – these are all nicknames that have been assigned to the currency over time. The currency is of course used in Australia but people living on Christmas Island, Norfolk Island and some other Pacific Island states also call this currency their own.

What coins and notes are available for this currency?

There are six coins in use for this currency. They range from the lowest denomination coin, the 5 cent piece, through the 10 cent, 20 cent, 50 cent and one dollar coins. The largest denomination coin is the two dollar coin.

There are five banknotes in use too, all of which have their own individual nicknames according to the appearance of each note. For example the lowest denomination bill is the $5 bill. This is called a fiver, a skydiver and a pink snapper among other things.

Next up is the $10 bill. Rhyming slang has this as an Ayrton Senna, while blue swimmer and other blue related names are also heard. The $20 bill is coloured red and is therefore sometimes called a red lobster. Next is the $50 bill, which has the rather nice name of McGarrett. He was the lead character in Hawaii 5-0, hence the 5-0 and $50 association.

Finally there is the $100 dollar bill. The current polymer note is called plenty of things including the Jolly Green Giant, but since it is not often used or seen, Australians rarely get a chance to use the nicknames!

From past to present – the history of the Australian dollar

In a society where we often see currencies that date back a hundred years or more, it seems strange to come across one that is far younger than this. It does apply to the Australian dollar though, as it was first used in 1966. Before this the country used the Australian pound, which had been in use since 1910. The reason for the change was decimalisation of the currency, which necessitated the move. Many suggestions were made for a name for the new currency but the dollar was the one that was eventually chosen.

The new decimal system is of course still in use today, with 100 cents to the dollar. However the smallest coin in circulation is now the 5 cent coin; the 1 cent piece has not been used for some time now.

How to get hold of Australian dollars

As one of the more familiar and oft-used currencies in the world, it isn’t a problem to find them when you need to get hold of some for a trip to the country.

You can choose either to exchange your own currency for the Aussie dollar before you leave home, or you can do it when you arrive in Australia. However most experts recommend you make the exchange before you leave. This is because the exchange rates are typically much better than you would get in the country itself. Bear this in mind because it could make a significant difference to how much cash you get back.

It’s certainly a good idea to exchange some before you depart for Australia just so you have some ready cash with you. If you are visiting for a longer period of time you won’t be able to take everything with you anyway; indeed it wouldn’t be a good idea to carry a large sum of cash with you.

Fortunately Australia is well served with cash points so you can visit the local ATM to get cash out whenever you need it. Just remember cities and large towns will have far more cash points and banks to visit than much smaller towns. The latter may only have one or even none at all, so it is wise to be prepared.

It’s worth bringing a credit or debit card or both with you as well. These will enable you to access cash easily as well as paying for goods and services as and when you need them.

How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Australian dollar

This part is easy – check online and see what the various currency exchange companies offer you. They will all be broadly the same but you may find you get a better deal at one than at another. Check also to see whether you can exchange your Australian dollars back into your home currency at a reasonable rate too. These deals vary between providers as well.

Incidentally if you want to find out more about the country and travelling there, visit This is the official website of the Australian High Commission in the United Kingdom. As such it has lots of useful details about visas and passport services for those who want to visit the country.

Travelling safely with Australian dollars

As far as safety in Australia is concerned, we probably all know far more about their dangerous spiders (such as the funnelweb for example) than we do about criminals and crimes.

Maybe that’s because the country is essentially a pretty safe place to be. Of course every country experiences crime and Australia is no exception. The good news is though that crime in this country is at a pretty low level. Some believe the UK experiences more crime on the whole than Australia does.

Most of the big cities are great to visit and very enjoyable indeed. There are a few areas in each of them that are less desirable if you stay until after dark, but if you stay in well populated areas you shouldn’t have much to worry about.

One of the main things to be aware of is not to stand out like a tourist. Many pickpockets will look for the easiest possible targets – something that is very easy to understand. Don’t leave your camera dangling around your neck or unattended next to you. Keep your wallet, cash or purse safely tucked out of sight as well, to ensure you minimise the chances of it being seen and taken.

Where to spend your dollars in Australia – and what to spend them on

It could be argued that many of the best experiences in Australia won’t cost you anything but time and effort. There are many natural sights in the country that are worth seeing, such as Uluru for example. This was commonly known as Ayers Rock. You’ll find Shark’s Bay – named for the plethora of sharks in the area, not to mention dolphins and turtles – in Western Australia, and of course there is the Great Barrier Reef near Queensland as well.

Some of the main sights people love to see are Sydney, with its famous Harbour Bridge and Opera House, and Bondi Beach. Other big cities well worth visiting include Melbourne. This city came second in a list of the World’s Most Liveable Cities in 2013. Sydney also came in the top ten. Elsewhere you can also visit Canberra, Darwin, the Gold Coast and Perth.

One of the best things about the country is the wealth of choices you have. You can spend your cash on good times, great food and entertainment in any number of towns and cities. Alternatively you can rent a campervan and drive across the country from one end to the other, stopping off wherever you like en route.

Another option is to go on a beach holiday – to the Gold Coast perhaps, where surfing is particularly popular. Bondi Beach is well worth a visit even if you aren’t keen on beaches – just to say you’ve been there! Australia certainly has its fair share of superb beaches. Tourism is an essential element of the country’s economy, and it welcomes tourists with open arms. You can also explore the Outback, although it is not advisable to do so unless you go prepared and have an idea of what to expect and where you are.

As you can see though, Australia is chock full of opportunities to spend those dollars. Whatever type of trip you are planning and however long you will be in the country, you’ll no doubt enjoy every moment of it. It really does cater for all kinds of people – beach bunnies, lovers of the rugged countryside and the areas that are rarely trodden by humans, and those who simply love to shop until they drop in the cities. The great thing about it is you can fall into all these groups and enjoy all the experiences on one and the same holiday. What more could you ask for than that?


The Australian dollar is still a fairly new currency compared to many others, as we have seen. However it is firmly in place as the recognised currency for the country and this is not likely to change for the foreseeable future.

Whatever you decide to spend your dollars on while you are enjoying your time in Australia, make sure you make the most of them.



  1. Australia is on the other side of the world in more than one way for me, as I live in the UK! But it seems so far away in the way that they live and work too.

    I’d love to live there, but even a visit seems out of the question at the moment. I checked the exchange rates recently and it looks like the pound has been falling in value against the Aussie dollar for a while. It gets a good week now and again but not good enough to change up my cash to blow it on a holiday there!

    — Allison · May 19, 01:56 PM · #

  2. It’d be great to visit Australia and have some Aussie dollars in my pocket, but I’d have to make it a long holiday. I’d want to visit all those cities, as well as trying out the Outback for size. I’m not that keen on snakes though so maybe that wouldn’t be such a good idea.

    It’s a bit like the UK in that it has so many different places, sights, cities and more to get to grips with. No holiday can show you everything, which is probably why some people go back again and again. I know I would, given half the chance!

    — JamieK · Sep 16, 03:03 PM · #

  3. I have never been to Australia but I know of a couple of people who have and it seems like a good place to go. Sydney is a city worth visiting, and it has a lot of good sights to see that we all know from the TV. I think Allison is right though – I think the pound needs to be a lot stronger for a lot longer before it is worth changing up the pound for some Australian dollars to fund a trip there. Even a couple of weeks would be really expensive if we changed our cash up according to current levels.

    Personally I think I would rather visit New Zealand than Australia. I think it has more to offer as far as I am concerned.

    — CDixon · Mar 29, 01:40 PM · #

  4. It’s funny but I don’t think I have ever got involved with the Australian dollar on the Forex markets. I would love to visit the country at some point, no matter which part of it I could see. It is one of those once in a lifetime destinations that would be superb to see in detail. Everyone has their favourite destinations like this I suppose – which parts of Australia are the best to see, I wonder?

    — CShort · Sep 29, 08:16 PM · #

  5. I actually did some work recently for a company in Australia (in an online capacity) and I didn’t think the exchange rate was too bad. I could do with it going a bit more in favour of the pound in terms of how much I get, but it was definitely well worth doing it. It was new to me so it opened my eyes as to how it all works with different currencies.

    — Ben · Dec 20, 03:46 PM · #

  6. i was wondering if there is any collector value for the Australian penny coin…dated 1952

    — matthew leininger · Oct 6, 09:09 AM · #