Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Money, Money, Money....

My continuing 101 Humans, #Humanbrochure adventures took us last night to the Royal Australian Mint. 

I’d been a few times before as a tourist (it’s only down the road from where we live and it's free!) but NEVER as a VIP Human, nor out of hours. This trip was particularly good as Audrey and Eli were allowed to accompany me, giving Amy a well earned (albeit brief) rest.

The Mint laid on an interesting trip – we listened to a spooky ghost story about William Henshall a forger sent in chains from England to Australia who, in 1813, became an instrumental figure in producing Australia’s first currency – the Holey Dollar – a Spanish coin with the centre punched out thereby creating two coins – a dollar and a dump. 

The story was told by a hooded figure who relished his dramatic role and faultlessly told his story in the gloom of the display area - at the weekend I suspect he wears his black and purple clothes at the local goth hangout.

That chap out of Sisters of Mercy tells the story of Australia's first currency
Next we ventured on to see the Mint’s three robots – all with their own character ranging from the huge ‘Titan’ to two smaller ones. The robots work silently throughout the night - I’ve often cycled past the Mint on my ride home without realising that inside the buildings, robots are labouring away

It did strike me that there's something slightly dangerous about putting all of your country's coin production into the hands of Robots - I know where giving power to robots ends up - just watch the Terminator if you're unsure....

Afterwards we headed down the (fantastic) coin covered stairs before listening to another ghost story about a now dead Mint worker who walks through the vaults whistling a happy tune. The story was this time told by Ross MacDiarmid - the CEO of the Mint, who introduced himself as the maintenance man before telling us his actual role. 
Ross MacDiarmid tells us his own horror story - the Coalition's plan to privatise the Mint
He also filled us in with other interesting facts – the 5c coin costs 6c to produce(!!!) and the 50c is the largest coin in circulation in the world. 

McDiarmid also outlined the Mint’s plan to expand its service to the Pacific Islands thereby alleviating  the gradual reduction of Australian coins as people move to the use of credit cards. Conversely though demand is boosted as Australian sofas get increasingly larger and more loose change falls down them. 

He told us that in some parts of the world (he cited Singapore) where physical money continued to be popular because of it anonymous nature.

The kids finished the night by pressing their own ‘C’ Canberra dollar coin. They were super excited about it and loved that the large model of the Mint now included wooden blocks so you could add to the structure and build walls/towers.
Eli shows off his freshly minted dollar
I suspect the Mint probably suffers in terms of visitor numbers when compared to other more high profile Canberra attractions like the Australian War Memorial, the National Gallery and Questacon (although I do think it gets its share of school trips) but I’d recommend it as a place to go when visiting Canberra. 

It’s amazing that the whole of Australia’s coins were at some point produced right here in Canberra – McDiarmid said that the Mint also plays a vital role in conjunction with the banks in co-ordinating coins moving around the country. 

It was lovely as usual to meet the other Humans. I'm going to miss meeting up (and being treated like VIPs!)

Thanks for another great night out!

A bolt stuck to a 20c coin - and you thought getting paper jammed in a photocopier was a pain...

Cashed up

1 comment:

Duncan Spender said...

Hi Trev - just discovered your blog - nice. Give me a call - Duncan.