Australian five-dollar note

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Five Dollars
Value 5 Australian dollars
Width 130 mm
Height 65 mm
Security features Window, Shadow image
Paper type Polymer
Years of printing 1992, 1994–98, 2001–03, 2005–2008, 2012-20131
Australian $5 polymer front.jpg
Design Queen Elizabeth II
Designer Bruce Stewart
Design date 24 April 1995
Australian $5 polymer back.jpg
Design Parliament House, Canberra
Designer Bruce Stewart
Design date 24 April 1994

The Australian 5-dollar note was first issued on 29 May 1967, one year after the currency was changed from the Australian pound to the Australian dollar on 14 February 1966. It was a new denomination, as the pound system had no £2½, with a new mauve colouration.


There have been four different issues of this denomination:

  • a paper note which had a gradient of mauve, with a distinct black overprint.
  • The first Polymer banknote issue, which can be recognised for its distinct mauve colouration and numeral font, was first issued in pale mauve (1992). A number of people found it difficult to distinguish from the $10 banknote, especially in poor lighting conditions.
  • In 1995, a second polymer issue was created, distinguishable by its deeper shade and different font for the numeral.
  • A federation commemorative was issued in 2001 for that year only. Notes featured Sir Henry Parkes on the obverse and Catherine Helen Spence on the reverse.

The initial paper five-dollar note was designed by Gordon Andrews, with Russell Drysdale as the Reserve Bank of Australia’s artistic advisor. This note featured portraits of Sir Joseph Banks and Caroline Chisholm, as well as elevations of Sydney streets from Joseph Fowles’ "Sydney in 1848", the cover of the Shipping Gazette, a watercolour of the Waverley, and a handbill of a meeting of the Family Colonization Loan Society. All of these images were sourced from the State Library of New South Wales.


According to Reserve Bank statistics, at the end of June 2006 there was a net value of $572 million in $5 notes in circulation, with a 1.5% cash value of all issued currency. Actual banknotes in circulation account for 13.3% of all denominations, or 114 million banknotes.2

Since the start of issuance there have been sixteen signature combinations, of which the 1967 issue is of the greatest value, issued for two years only; and the 1990 Fraser/Higgens being issued for less than a year.

From 1967 to 1974, the main title identifying the country was "Commonwealth of Australia" and there were 195,504,000 notes issued in its life. This was subsequently changed to "Australia" until the end of the issuance of paper currency for this denomination in 1992 with 978,068,318 of these notes being issued.


On the latest 5-dollar note Queen Elizabeth II is on the front of the 5-dollar note along with eucalyptus leaves. There is a number 5 in the right hand corner of both sides. There is Australia written to the left of the queen. The parliament house is on the back of the 5-dollar note. In 2001, notes featured Sir Henry Parkes on the obverse and Catherine Helen Spence on the reverse.

Security features

The paper design included a watermark in the white field of Captain James Cook, the watermark was also used in the last issue of pound banknotes. A metallic strip, first near the centre of the note, then from 1976 moved to the left side on the obverse of the note.

The polymer issue includes a shadow image of the Australian coat of arms which is visible under other printing when the note is held up to light, a pointed star with four points on the obverse and three on the reverse that come together under light, a clear window that has a stylised gum flower showing, and raised print and micro printing of the denomination value.

Some features of the banknote glow under UV light, these features include the serial number and a square patch on the reverse of the note. There is also raised printing around the portraits and major design elements of the note which can be felt by rubbing the finger or fingernail against it.3

Other issues