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The Decimal Revolution

50th Anniversary of Decimal Currency in Australia

The introduction of decimal currency on 14 February 1966 was a major milestone in the nation's social and economic history. In 2016, the Bank marked the 50th anniversary of the event with an exhibition about the decision to decimalise, the design of the new and distinctively Australian currency, and the way in which the decimal system was explained to households and businesses.

Image showing a screenshot of 'a New Currency' Video showcasing new decimal banknotes

A New Currency

A distinctively Australian set of banknotes was issued that captured the emerging diversity of Australia and its contribution to the wider world.

Image displaying the first series of decimal currency banknotes

Introducing the Banknotes

The new decimal currency banknotes exhibited colours and designs that were bolder and more vivid than the previous banknotes.

Image displaying keyline drawing of John Macarthur

Who Was on the New Banknotes?

The people on the new decimal currency banknotes have made defining contributions to Australian society in many fields of endeavour.

Gordon Andrews in the mid 1960s checking a transparency of the layout for the new, decimal $10 note

The Designer: Gordon Andrews

Gordon Andrews, the designer of the new currency and the Bank’s emblem, was a graphic and industrial design pioneer.

Image displaying alternative design of the $1 banknote by Max Forbes

Alternative Decimal Designs

Other prominent designers participated in a competition to design the new series of banknotes. Three were highly commended.

Image of the Dollar Bill Advertisement

Dollar Bill Turns 50 Years Old

The character of Dollar Bill appeared in a publicity campaign to explain decimal currency and help Australians adjust to this major change.

Image of Decimmal Currency school education poster

Adapting to Change

A major public education campaign was undertaken to help Australians adapt to the new currency, using TV through to play money.

Image of harmonograph on the original $20 decimal banknote

Museum Exhibition

The Bank's Museum displayed design elements, banknotes and materials related to the new decimal currency.

Image displaying screenshots of banknote films


Fascinating film footage and newsreels related to the launch of decimal currency are available, along with reproductions of printed materials.