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The Rewards of Enterprise

The $20 banknote brings together the colonial businesswoman, Mary Reibey, with the Presbyterian minister the Reverend John Flynn, who explored aviation as a means of revolutionising the delivery of medical services to the outback. The banknote's design by Garry Emery combines these disparate elements in dramatic montages suggestive of Surrealism, an art movement that has influenced his career.

Transported to New South Wales in 1792 for the theft of a horse, Mary Reibey was assigned as a nursemaid before her marriage to Thomas Reibey. After his early death, she developed his business interests with acumen. Her premises in George Street, Sydney, are illustrated on the banknote by a drawing from Joseph Fowles' Sydney in 1848, and her involvement in shipping is represented with an image of the schooner, Mercury, which was used for trading in the Pacific Islands. Reibey contributed to the development of colonial society as a founding member of the Bank of New South Wales and through her support of educational and charitable causes.

Garry Emery, preliminary design element for $20 banknote.

Reserve Bank of Australia Archives, 18/5642.

Preliminary designs by Garry Emery of the $20 banknote.

Reserve Bank of Australia Archives, NP-002654.

Preliminary designs by Garry Emery of the $20 banknote.

Reserve Bank of Australia Archives, NP-002654.

John Flynn's ambition to improve communication systems and medical services in the outback led to the founding of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia. His vision was first realised in 1928 when the air ambulance Victory made its flight from Cloncurry, Queensland, for the Australian Inland Mission Aerial Medical Service; the aircraft, a de Havilland DH.50 biplane, is depicted on the banknote. The design contrasts aviation with the use of camels that were acquired by Flynn for his ‘Patrol Padres’ across northern Australia. A photograph of one of the ministers, the Reverend Coledge Harland, mounted on his camel is the basis for the background image on the banknote.

The capabilities of wireless communication were turned to reporting emergencies to the aerial service. The banknote includes an interpretation of the pedal-powered generator, invented by Alfred Traeger and used to operate transceiver wireless sets. It is paired with the ‘Where Does It Hurt?’ body chart that was used to identify affected areas during communication with the medical service.

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