Banks and ATM machines are everywhere. Banking hours are 9.30 – 4 on Monday to Thursday and until 5pm on Friday. The unit of currency is the Australian dollar, divided into 100 cents.
Originally Australia used pounds, as in Britain, but the switch was made in 1966, with the dollar equal to 10 shillings, or, in other words, two dollars equal to one old pound.
Notes are in circulation in denominations of $100 (green), $50 (olive), $20 (red), $10 (blue) and $5 (purple). The notes are all made of plastic, a field in which Australia has been a pioneer.
Australia was the first country in the world to print all of its bank notes on plastic, the current series having been introduced between 1992 and 1996. The plastic notes last approximately four times as long as paper notes and can be recycled.
Coins in circulation are in denominations of $2 (gold colour), $1 (gold colour), 50 cents (silver colour), 20 cents (silver colour), 10 cents (silver colour) and 5 cents (silver colour). One point which sometimes causes confusion at first is that the $1 coin is larger than the $2. The copper coinage for 2 cents and 1 cent was removed from circulation some years ago, but items may still be priced in steps of less than 5 cents. In such cases, your final bill is supposed to be rounded up or down to the nearest 5 cents.
Each Australian bank offers its own exchange rate for foreign currencies, but for common currencies rates vary but little. If you are exchanging travellers cheques, though, you may find that there is one particular bank which represents the issuer of your cheques and therefore does not make a charge for changing that brand of travellers cheque. Other banks will impose a charge. You will have to research to find which is the best bank for you.
In many cases you make be able to use a non-Australian bank card to withdraw money from a machine at an Australian bank. Many travellers like this method as it avoids their having to safeguard too much cash or too many travellers cheques. There will be a small fee for this service, but the fee will be determined by your home bank, so ask before you set out. Many Australian banks have reciprocal arrangements with overseas banks and may not charge a service fee for using their ATM. It is worth finding out before you arrive which is the best bank for you.