8 September 2023

Canberra celebrated on limited-edition coin for the first time (and look who it is)

| James Coleman
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Big Swoop coin

The Big Swoop coin is part of Australia Post’s Big Things collection. Photo: Australia Post.

Big Swoop has struck again, just in time for spring.

Two months ago, the statue of the magpie pecking at a chip in Garema Place expanded to merchandise, including beanies, jumpers and T-shirts.

He’s now the star of a $1 coin and $1.20 postage stamp as part of a new series released by Australia Post that pays homage to 10 of Australia’s ‘Big Things’.

It’s the first time Canberra has featured on a $1 collectable coin.

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The other nine include Queensland’s Big Pineapple, NSW’s Big Banana and Big Blue Heeler, Victoria’s Giant Koala and Giant Murray Cod, Tasmania’s Big Tasmanian Devil, the Northern Territory’s Big Jumping Crocodile, South Australia’s Big Lobster, and Western Australia’s Giant Ram.’

“Our ‘Big Things’ are colourful, entertaining, and truly make their mark in so many local communities across Australia,” Australia Post general manager Kayla Le Cornu said.

“We’re celebrating some of our most iconic ‘Big Things’ with this new coin collection, in partnership with the Royal Australian Mint.”

Big Swoop

The Big Swoop magpie sculpture in Garema Place. Photo: James Coleman.

For Big Swoop’s coin, the National Carillon, Telstra Tower, a couple of hot-air balloons and one of Canberra’s iconic brutalist concrete bus shelters serve as a backdrop, with some angles reminiscent of the flag structure at Parliament House weaved through the design.

The sculpture, which weighs half a tonne and measures 2.4 metres high, was created by local artist Yanni Pounartzis.

It was installed in Garema Place in 2022, funded by a grant from the City Renewal Authority (CRA), but had to be removed shortly afterwards and sent to Sydney for repairs due to vandalism.

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He returned in time for Christmas, now mounted to a large plinth.

Yanni said he was “feeling very honoured” by the Australia Post announcement.

“I created Big Swoop for a bit of a laugh, and I never expected this,” Yanni posted to social media on 4 September.

Big Swoop

Big Swoop postage stamp. Photo: Australia Post.

He previously told Region the magpie had developed its own character and following among locals to the point “everyone was asking for stuff”.

“People just gravitated to him and loved him from day one, and I realised how many people actually love magpies. They just came out of the woodwork.”

To celebrate the launch of the 10 Big Things collectable coins and stamps, Australia Post surveyed 1000 Australians to discover their thoughts and feelings about the larger-than-life structures.

The survey revealed the three ingredients for a good ‘Big Thing’ are size, condition, and lots of things to do nearby.

Big Merino

Another of Australia’s ‘Big Things’ – the Big Merino in Goulburn. Photo: John Thistleton.

“‘Big Things’ can be a one-trick pony if there isn’t something else to do on site,” said Dr Amy Clarke, a University of Sunshine Coast lecturer and expert on Australia’s ‘Big Things’.

“Once you’ve got a photo, the chances of going back are low unless there’s plenty of additional fun to be had. And while people often associate ‘Big Things’ with the 1980s, when many of them were built, we’re still building more ‘Big Things’ today.”

The limited edition $1 coin and stamp collections can be bought at your local post office or online.

Individual stamps cost $1.20, coins $3 each, and the full coin set and accompanying folder costs $29.

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