11 September 2023

Canberra collectors queue around the block for Mint's new limited-edition $5 coin

| James Coleman
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people queueing outside the Mint

Stephanie Kimber (right) and Gerry (last name omitted, left) took their place at the Mint at 6:45 am. Photo: James Coleman.

You’d think it was Aldi when the 65-inch TVs are on sale for $450. But it was actually the Royal Australian Mint on Thursday (7 September) when it released a special-edition $5 coin with a retail price tag of $30.

A queue formed outside the Deakin attraction from as early as 6 in the morning, full of coin collectors eager to get their hands on one of only 30,000 ‘Australian World Heritage Properties’ coloured coins when the Mint’s doors opened at 8:30 am.

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With a folded camp chair in one hand and a coffee cup in the other, Stephanie Kimber arrived at 6:45 am.

“It’s within budget, so hoping to get it and hold onto it and build the kids’ inheritance and glory box,” she told Region.

Up to this point, Stephanie has had an affinity for the Anzac coins from when The Daily Telegraph used to issue the 50-cent pieces with the paper. This is the first time she’s taken the passion to the point of queueing outside the Mint.

“We’re all interested what it’s going to go for later.”

The queue stretched all the way along the building and beyond. Photo: James Coleman.

The coin in question celebrates 20 of Australia’s World Heritage Properties, including several key Indigenous and convict sites from around the country, as well as the Great Barrier Reef, Sydney Opera House, Royal Exhibition Building and Uluru.

All of them star in an intricately detailed relief that also frames a full-colour central image of a handprint, fan palm front and shell fossil to represent Australia’s natural and built icons and Indigenous heritage.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) partnered with the Mint to produce the coin and described it at the Sydney launch last week as a celebration of Australia’s contribution to world heritage.

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“This amazing coin highlights the diversity of Australia’s internationally significant heritage and will encourage awareness of our unique biodiversity, deep Indigenous connections with Country and extraordinary cultural places,” ICOMOS General Assembly convenor Professor Richard Mackay (and former chair of Australia’s World Heritage Advisory Committee) said.

As with all freshly minted coins at the moment, the $5 coin also features the ‘Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Obverse’ on the heads side. The traditional portrait of the late Queen remains, but now with the addition of her years of reign – “Elizabeth II 1952-2022”.

Only slightly further back in the queue, Gerry (last name omitted for privacy reasons) has accrued Australia’s complete Endangered Animals coin set and nine coins from the Kangaroo Series.

A personal favourite is one he picked up from an op shop a few years ago for $7, only for coin catalogues to list its real worth at $370.

Queen Elizabeth's head on a a coin

Coins released since early 2023 feature either the ‘Jody Clark Commonwealth Effigy’ or the ‘Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Obverse’. Photo: Royal Australian Mint.

He says the World Heritage Properties coin “just looked exceptionally attractive”.

“I’m not a really avid collector and have never queued for coins before, but I like coins … I’ll pass them on to my children later on.”

Last weekend, the Mint released a new $1 coin series to celebrate 10 of Australia’s ‘Big Things’, with the ‘Big Swoop’ magpie sculpture Garema Place selected to represent Canberra. The series was also accompanied by $1.20 stamps from Australia Post.

Big Swoop

Civic’s Big Swoop magpie sculpture has his coin and stamp now. Photo: James Coleman.

A relative newcomer to Canberra, Stephanie hadn’t heard of Big Swoop but was annoyed Goulburn’s ‘Big Merino’ didn’t get a look in for the other nine coins in the series.

“They did the Giant Ram from Western Australia, but why not the Big Merino? Everyone’s heard of the Big Merino!”

The Australian World Heritage Properties $5 coin is available for purchase through the Coin Shop at the Mint, as well as Australia Post, NewsXpress and other Authorised Distributor locations. The limit is one per person as long as stocks last.

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