I will start with a confession. I didn’t come up with the title of this review – The Royal Australian Mint beat me too it.
The Royal Australian Mint in Canberra produces all of Australia’s coins (Australia’s notes are made in Melbourne).
In addition to being able to watch the production process, including Titan one of the world’s strongest robots in action – from behind glass and at a distance that precludes you from grabbing and running of with the loot – the Mint has a small, though interesting, museum tracing the history of Australian coins (including forgeries) over the years. Also, pop into the small theatrette where a video will take you behind the scenes and explain the process of making coins.
The current Mint building was opened by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh in 1965 and its first task was to produce new coins for the introduction of decimal currency in Australia on 14 February 1966. Since then it has produced more than fifteen billion circulating coins and has a current capacity to produce two million coins per day. Prior to the opening of this mint, Australian coins were produced by a branch of the Royal Mint, London.
I was especially taken by the exhibit of the 1930 penny which in fact was never officially issued though around 3,000 managed to get into circulation. Do let me explain.
In 1930, because of the Great Depression, it was decreed that no new pennies were to be issued that year. The Mint, then a branch of the Royal Mint and located in Melbourne, had already produced dies and somehow around 3,000 coins got produced and were most likely issued in error as part of the 1934 release. Only six proof pennies (all accounted for – one in the British Museum, one in the Museum of Victoria, one in the Art Gallery of South Australia and three in private collections) were produced, each now worth around $1.5 million. The pennies that made it into circulation trade for between $18,000 and $275,000, dependent on condition.
In addition to producing Australia’s coinage the Mint produces coins for other countries, medals, medallions, tokens and seals for private clients. On display you will see a set of Sydney 2000 Olympic medals.
The bronze medals were made of melted down old 1 and 2 cent coins no longer in circulation.
Downstairs, on the entrance level, you will find a shop where coins/ sets of coins (current issues only) can be purchased – no free samples! This is always the busiest part of the Mint – going to show how many people collect coins, I guess. Also here, you will find a rather lacklustre café – fine if you need a coffee or drink but you would not come out here especially for something to eat.
There are also two “printing presses” in the shop area into one of which you might want to insert $3 to watch a spanking new $1 coin being made. You get to keep the $1. Keep your fingers crossed it will misprint – it would then be worth something!
Note – The factory doesn’t usually operate during weekends – though you can still look down onto to floor and machinery.
The mint offers at least a couple of free tours per day and occasionally has open days when visitors can actually get down onto the factory floor. When I locate my pictures from one of those open days I will write another review or update this one.
Current times – which seem to vary are:
10 am and 2 pm Monday to Friday
10.30 am and 11.30 am Saturday
No tours on Sundays
If you feel you must go on a tour (they are interesting but not essential as you get to go nowhere you can’t go by yourself) give them a call before visiting to confirm times.
Monday to Friday – 9am to 4pm
Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays – 10am to 4pm
The Mint is closed on Christmas Day and Good Friday.
Admission Fee: Free
Address: Denison Street, Deakin