Nine People Who Shaped Australia – and why they’ll be remembered forever.

The deeper you look into Australia’s colonial history, the more intrigue you’re likely to find.

Before Australia became ‘Australia,’ and all separate colonies joined together to form a single nation in 1901, the struggles and triumphs of nine extraordinary people had a profound effect on shaping the country we know today. These are some of their stories.

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The man who put Australia on the map

Born in October 1728, James Cook rose from humble beginnings to become ‘one of the greatest of Englishmen’. This is the story of his historic maiden voyage - and its legacy that would earn him a place in Australian history books.

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When the Guns Fell Silent

After years of conflict and millions of lives lost, war was finally over.

It was the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month – 11/11/1918 – when the guns finally fell silent over the Western Front. With the ceasefire came a resounding quiet, and for those left, a void filled by memories, many too painful to vanquish. But at long last, war – the First Great War – had ended.

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The New $10 Explained

There are plenty of bells and whistles you’ll want to check out when you get your hands on the RBA’s brand-new $10 note.

Chances are, you’ve heard the news. The Reserve Bank of Australia’s brand-new $10 Polymer Note is here, armed with a suite of new design, security and even tactile features to elevate the humble ‘tenner’ to a whole new level.

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Think forgery has been the ruin of Australian currency? Think again.

Currency forgers often make headlines. After all, if you’re creating headaches for the Government, baffling law enforcement personnel and placing the national economy in jeopardy – among other things! – you might become infamous, but you’ll likely never be seen in a positive light. Forgery is bad for Australia. It’s a black-and-white issue.

But is it?

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Day 6 - Broken Hill to Renmark

Editor’s note: Kath Downie shares more of her 2017 Kidney Kar Rally adventures in her blog post below!

Last night's 'Silver City'-themed fancy dress event definitely delivered some very creative costumes! Congratulations to this team, for what can only be described as an outstanding commitment to the theme!IMG_4895

I'm not sure that Paul and Scott from Bendigo thought this outfit through - how does one drink one's beer?


Broken Hill has been a great place to stay for the day - the whole city promotes Kidney Health!


But with our rest day behind us, it was time to jump back into the car for another day of adventure.

With three stages down and one to go before we arrived in Renmark for the night, we stopped for lunch at the Coombah Roadhouse.


We discovered that one car was out with a fuel pump problem, and another with an injury to the side from a rogue roo!

There's been a lot of dust today, and some very long (and not so winding roads, like this beauty:


And there've also been some iconic Australian sights.


As we drew closer to Renmark, though, the contrast in our surroundings was immediately apparent.


And our room in Renmark provided a terrific view of the Mighty Murray!


Overall, we had thought we'd had a pretty good day, but it seems the averages were a little faster than we anticipated, particularly in the last one! 2 minutes late on the first stage, even on the second, 1 early on the third and 3 late on the last! So 6 points down for the day, plus our 4WD penalty sees us at 17th overall. We don't find out our scores tomorrow, they save them up till the final night so no-one knows where they might finish up!

It looks like the rain has already impacted on tomorrow's stages...the 'day before car' has been out and determined the 3rd and 4th stages are too dangerous so it looks like it'll be bitumen roads from Ouyen to Moama. Oh well, maybe I'll have time for an afternoon nanna nap!!!

85 years in the biz, and other rarities

It’s a rare family business that grows from strength to strength over a course of 85 years – and at Downies Coins, it’s something we’re incredibly thankful for. So last week, we took an equally rare opportunity to stop, reflect and celebrate.

Joined by some of our customers in the Southgate store, we were particularly honoured to play host to a very special guest - the CEO of the Royal Australian Mint, Ross MacDiarmid - and of course, some exclusive treasures, both old and new.


The star of the evening was this rather imposing 2kg Gold Nugget above, who goes by the moniker ‘Smooth Rider.’ ‘Rare’ doesn’t come anywhere near fully describing the incredible luck surrounding its discovery – but more on that later.

2017 $100 Celestial Dome Series Northern Sky 1oz Gold Proof

On the subject of attendees, it was with tremendous excitement that we were able to welcome the inimitable Ross MacDiarmid from the Royal Australian Mint to personally introduce the ‘concave/convex’ 1oz gold proof that will, no doubt, go on to be a popular numismatic piece this year.


Royal Australian Mint CEO Ross MacDiarmid introduces the ‘Northern Sky’ 1oz Gold Proof.


The event also created a rare opportunity for MacDiarmid to meet some Downies customers face-to-face – and, of course, catch up on lost time!


Ross MacDiarmid receives a gift from Downies Managing Director, Ken Downie.

With our Rarities catalogue launch just around the corner, the stage was set for customers to admire a selection of key Australian rare coins, banknotes and more from days gone by. A huge congratulations to our lucky door prize winner, who was able to leave with a fittingly striking memento of his evening!


The Rider’s Return

When it comes to luck, the story of a gent named ‘Big Nolan’ comes to mind.

It was February 26th, 1939. Nolan was driving home, forging a journey down a deserted road near Victoria’s Canadian Gully, when his car ran off the road. As the story goes:

Since he wasn't completely sober, it took Nolan a while to dig out his tyres, which were partially buried in some rocks and sand. Using a tyre iron, he not only freed the tyres but also discovered this 78.39 ounce nugget about 8 inches down. Big Nolan took his time getting back on the road, being careful not to get stuck again. His ride back to town was so much better that he called the nugget ‘Smooth Rider.’

‘Smooth Rider’ was kept in Nolan’s family until quite recently, when it was brought from Australia to the United States for sale.

But thanks to the hard work of Ken Downie, it’s home again.

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