Australian money and currency

Before visiting Cairns, knowing a little about the Australian currency and how it works is helpful.  Look at this guide to the Australian Dollar, from using ATMs and contactless payments.  Next, you and see where the Cairns banks are and also learn currency exchange.

Australian Currency: all about money in Australia

  • Get the essential information on coins and notes in Australia
  • The Australian currency is the Australian dollars
  • Learn the Aussie slang to understand the dollar

All you need to know about money and related services, including currency exchange, banks and Australian currency: you can also learn how to reward the excellent service you receive with our guide to tipping in Cairns.


There are ATMs (cash machines) on most streets in Cairns city, shopping centres, banks and arcades.

Australian Money

Australia uses Australian dollars and cents.  Banks will accept all other currencies.  Credit cards are easy to use in Cairns, and a vast amount of ATM and Eftpos machines will work with most overseas accounts.

Australian notes are made of polymer (plastic), so no worries if they go through the washing machine but not the dryer!  The letters are colourful and easily recognized.

Australian Money Dollar Notes



The green note features Dame Nellie Melba, a famous Australian operatic soprano, on one side.  The other side of the note featured John Monash, a First World War commander who served as Melbourne University’s vice-chancellor from 1923 to 1931.  The note also features golden wattle.  The note also features five raised bumps along the edge to benefit people with low vision and the blind.


The note is gold and features David Unaipon, an aboriginal man of the Ngarrindjeri people, for his assistance to help to break the Indigenous Australian stereotypes.  On the other side of the $50 features, Edith Cowan who did terrific work for the rights of women and children and was the first woman to serve as a member of parliament.


The twenty-dollar note is red.  One side features the Reverend John Flynn, who pioneered the Royal Flying Doctor Service; the other side, Mary Reibey, who arrived in Australia as a convict and later became a successful businesswoman in shipping and trading.


The ten-dollar notes are blue, featuring AB ‘Banjo Paterson on one side, who is famous for his Australian poetry.    Dame Mary Gilmore is featured on the other side.  Dame Mary Gilmore was a founding member of the Fellowship of Australian Writers as an Author, poet, journalist and campaigner against injustice and deprivation.


The five-dollar note is pink and purple.  Queen Elizabeth II is featured on one side of the note, and the new parliament house is on the other.

Australian Money Coins

Australian coins generally feature certain people and animals.  There are also times when the Royal Australian Mint produces some unique coins.

Australian Coins


The $2 coin is the most valuable of the Australian coins.  The colour of the coin is gold.  On one side of the coin, a drawing of Gwoya Jungarai, an Aboriginal Edler, is featured.  The other side features Queen Elizabeth II.


The one-dollar coin features a mob of kangaroos on one side and the other on Queen Elizabeth II.  The colour of the coin is gold.


The fifty-cent piece has a diameter of 31.65 mm and is one of the largest coins currently circulating in the World.   On one side, the Australian Coat of Arms is featured, while King Charles III is featured on the other.

The Australian Coat of Arms features a kangaroo and an emu holding up a shield, symbolizing our nation that can only move forwards as neither animal can move backwards easily.


The twenty-cent coin is a round coin featuring King Charles III on one side and the platypus on the other.  The platypus is an Australian semiaquatic egg-laying mammal.


The Australian ten-cent coin is a round silver coin. On one side, it features the lyrebird, and on the other side King Charles III.

The smallest Australian coin currently in the currency, the five-cent coin, is round and silver in colour.  Features the Eccidna on one side and King Charles III on the other.

Speak like an Aussie

  • The $100 is known as a granny smith
  • The $50 is known as a  pineapple
  • The $20 note is known as a lobster
  •  The  $10 note is known as a blue swimmer
  • The $5 note is known as a pink lady



Next, discover more about Cairns.