Leading the pack in commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Burke and Wills expedition, the Royal Australian Mint unveiled new coin designs alongside an exclusive Burke and Wills display at the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne.
Modern day explorer Jesse Martin together with Assistant Treasurer Senator Nick Sherry revealed the new coin designs today in Melbourne.
Jesse Martin, the current record holder for the youngest person to sail solo around the world non-stop and unassisted, was able to, after looking through the Burke and Wills collection, empathise with taking on such a major expedition, the hardships that came with it and the sense of achievement at the end.
"Doing anything unknown is hard work, especially knowing people are expecting something of you. Though Burke and Wills fell on hard times, perhaps their greatest achievement has been to inspire others through their spirit of exploration and in the end we all benefit from the discoveries of people who go before us," said Mr Martin.
Mr Martin and guests were able to pore over the historically significant Burke and Wills collection items and see the story pan out right before their eyes.
"By bringing together some of the most fascinating items in the collection, we map out the story of the expedition which also shows where our coin and packaging designers got their inspiration from," said Royal Australian Mint Acting Chief Executive Officer Graham Smith.
"We also worked in partnership with the Royal Society of Victoria, who are here today, in coming up with this theme," said Mr Smith.
Assistant Treasurer Senator Nick Sherry was pleased to reveal the new coin designs in Melbourne today.
"It is fitting to launch these coins in Melbourne as the Burke and Wills expedition departed almost 150 years ago from a site not too far from where we stand today," said Senator Sherry.
"The Burke and Wills expedition ended in tragedy but not in vain. They were able to provide a complete picture of inland Australia and prove there was no inland sea. That is no minor feat and I am proud to honour the expedition, their achievements and their stories on these two coins."
The designs on the 20 cent and $1 coin highlight the beginning and end of the Burke and Wills expedition – two well known events still spoken about today.
The items that were on display at the launch included the original "last notes" of William John Wills and Ludwig Becker’s Sketchbook. One other item was added today.
"The Royal Australian Mint is proud to present the State Library of Victoria with a set of the newly released coins to add to their Burke and Wills collection so that they too can be a part of history," said Mr Smith.
The 2010 Burke and Wills coins were designed by world class sculptor Wojciech Pietranik and packaging designed by Sabina Foster.
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2010 Burke and Wills Coins Specifications
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About the Royal Australian Mint
His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, officially opened the Royal Australian Mint, Canberra, on Monday 22nd February 1965. The Mint was commissioned to produce Australia’s decimal coinage, which was to be introduced into circulation on 14th February 1966. The Royal Australian Mint holds a place in history as the first mint in Australia not to be a branch of the Royal Mint, London.
Since opening in 1965 the Mint has produced over eleven billion circulating coins and has the capacity to produce over two million coins per day, or over six hundred million coins per year.
The Royal Australian Mint has struck coins for a number of South Pacific nations. Export coins were first struck in 1969 for New Zealand and, since then, coins have been produced for Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Western Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal, Bangladesh, Israel and Tokelau.