When your change (and dollar notes) changed

At the time a small change can feel so big.  While it might seem funny looking back at significant changes in life now.  It was a time filled with a lot of anxiety, opposition and major apprehension.

It was of one of the biggest changes to modern-day Australia – the introduction of decimal currency, which took place on February 14, 1966.

Gone were the pounds, shilling and pence and in came dollars and cents. There were many sound arguments for the chance, including the fact that most of the world was already on decimal currency, but opponents feared that the move would put Australia at odds with mother, England. Does any of this sound familiar to the current republic debate?

The change was relatively smooth, thanks in part to the famous Dollar Bill campaign, which you can watch below. Do you remember it?

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To celebrate what it describes as  “the successful completion of one of the most challenging reforms Australia had ever seen”, Australia Post commissioned Melbourne-based Melinda Coombes of Coombes Whitechurch Design to create a new design for the $1 stamp that illustrates the change our currency underwent in 1966.


Demanding intense manufacturing and preparation, the replacement of pounds, shillings and pence required huge mobilisation across private and public sectors, with readjustments to transactions, advertising, postage and banking as well as intense education campaigns.

“Not only did the general public have to be educated on the changes,” said Australia Post Philatelic Manager Michael Zsolt, “but retailers and bank staff had to be trained to make conversions, update their signage and help customers.”

There is much to be celebrated when it comes to Australia’s currency – renowned Sydney-based designer Gordon Andrews (1914–2001) created the boldly coloured banknotes that depict a diverse and inclusive Australia.

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“The bank notes were ground-breaking for some reasons. First, they featured Aboriginal culture, architecture, the arts, science, industry and native fauna. Second, the $5 note featured a woman other than the Queen for the first time – Caroline Chisholm,” said Mr Zsolt.

Gold and silversmith Stuart Devlin designed Australia’s new coins, sculpting depictions of Australian fauna across the 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, and 20c coins, and the Australian coat of arms on the 50c coin.

Do you remember the date February 14 1966? What are your memories of the change?