On the 1 September 2016, last year, the Reserve Bank of Australia unveiled an exciting new look $5 note.  Like most, we were hugely impressed with the tactile features to make the note more accessible for blind and vision-impaired people. We also couldn’t help but be a little excited to learn that there is a distinctive link between the new note and Centennial Park. Can you guess what it is?


Fed Pavilion

Federation Pavilion on $5 banknote. If you look closely you can see a link to Centennial Park in the new design of the $5 note.


You guessed it, the design of the new $5 note features a little clue to the ‘Birthplace of our Nation’. Neatly tucked between the ‘Prickly Moses’ wattle and Her Majesty’s face, is a tribute to the original Federation Pavilion.

Federation Pavilion is, of course, the site where, on the 1 January 1901, with the signing of documents, Australia’s six separate colonies became officially united in a Federal Commonwealth of Australia. Immediately after, the Queen’s Proclamation was read, the Governor-General and Federal Ministers were sworn in, and a 21-gun salute celebrated the people from Australia’s six separate colonies united as one.


The Federation Pavilion structure

You may be surprised to learn that the original Federation Pavilion was built as a temporary structure and was created especially for the auspicious occasion. At 14 metres high it was an octagonal, domed structure made of plaster of Paris. It was richly decorated with bas-relief castings of native flora and the imperial coat of arms. Inside the structure sat a stone obelisk – the ‘Federation Stone’ – created to symbolise the coming together of the states and territories.


So what happened to the original?

The site of the original pavilion fell into decline as the temporary plaster of Paris quickly degraded. In 1903 it was removed altogether and the timber structure ended up in Carbarita Park.

The Federation Stone, which had been housed within the pavilion, was later placed on a sandstone pedestal and surrounded by an iron picket fence in 1904. There it remained, until the new Federation Pavilion (the structure you would recognise in Centennial Park today) was opened in 1988 as part of the nation’s Bicentennial Celebrations.


A first appearance on the $5 note

The new $5 note is the second iteration that features Federation Pavilion as an important historic icon. In 1992, when the first polymer $5 banknote was introduced in Australia, it featured a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and on the reverse, imagery of Parliament House in Canberra.


First 5

The first polymer $5 note featured imagery of Parliament House in Canberra (image credit Reserve Bank of Australia.


With the Centenary of Federation in 2001, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) introduced a new commemorative $5 note. On one side, it featured Catherine Helen Spence (1825–1910) who was a prevalent journalist, social reformer and novelist. On the other, Sir Henry Parkes (1815-1896) the ‘Father of Federation,’ along with the Federation Pavilion.


Second 5

The second polymer $5 note with Sir Henry Parkes and the Federation Pavilion (image credit Reserve Bank of Australia).


‘New and improved’ features

A core function of the RBA is to maintain public confidence in Australia’s banknotes. To ensure the security of Australia’s banknotes, the RBA researches anti-counterfeit technologies as new and improved elements in banknote design.

The heritage value of Federation Pavilion saw the feature retained in the latest $5 note design, however, the RBA’s decision to improve the note’s security features has seen the inclusion of a reversible number ‘5’ inside the Federation Pavilion. If you tilt the note backwards and forwards you can see it change direction!

You can read more about the latest Australian $5 and the new $10 note which will be released in September 2017 on the RBA website.

Interesting isn’t it? You may never look at money the same way again!


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