Downies News

New and exciting range of historical Ancient Greek & Roman Coin Books available now at our Downies Southgate store

Downies Southgate Melbourne Store has just received a new and wide range of Ancient Greek and Roman Coin and Historical Books in-store - all at competitive prices! The range of these books covers the entire period of Ancient Greek and Roman History from Alexander the Great through to the last emperors of the Roman Empire.

Read more

Perth ANDA Money Expo Appointments Available!

Presented by the Australasian Numismatics Dealers Association (ANDA), and sure to attract dealers, collectors and investors from right across Australia, the Perth Money Expo will be held at the Domain Stadium, Subiaco on February 11 & 12.

Highlighted by the presence of the Perth Mint, along with 15+ dealers, large crowds are expected to attend the Perth Money Expo this year. Downies will be at Western Australia’s premier numismatic festival, of course, with our Numismatist Steve Kirby.


Steve will be available at the Downies Stand from 10am to the end of each day.

Assisting with your personal coin and banknote needs, as well as helping with all rarities enquiries, Steve’s services also include:

  • Buying and selling coins, gold and silver bullion and other collectables
  • Free appraisals of your treasured collectables
  • Specialist advice on all aspects of your collection
  • Auction services – appraisals, consignments, and selling

Please call us on (03) 9686 8411 or email to arrange an appointment while he is visiting WA and the Money Expo – but hurry!

There are a limited number of appointments available.

We hope to see you at the Perth Money Expo!

Downies – inspiring collectors for 85 years

Founded by Phil Downie in 1932, during the depths of the Great Depression, Downies celebrates its 85th anniversary in 2017. Here are just a few of the key highlights on our long journey to become the undisputed leader in Australian coins and banknotes.

Young Phil in 1932

1932 – The beginning…

A young man with a big dream, 16-year-old Phil Downie established the Palmerston North Stamp Company in New Zealand. Within a short space of time, the business grew enormously, and was helping leading stamp collectors across the world achieve their goals.

1939 – Foundations for the future

After moving to Australia in 1938, Phil opened the Myer Philatelic Bureau in 1939. He and his wife Zita ran the bureau at the famed Myer store in Bourke Street, Melbourne. When Phil stepped up to serve the nation in the Australian Army during the Second World War, Zita did what many women of the era had to do – she stepped out of the shadows and ran the bureau single-handedly.

With a strong foundation having thus been established, Phil and Zita’s fledging philatelic business quickly grew to become an Australian industry leader. From stamps, the Downies business eventually expanded into all fields of collectables, including coins and banknotes.

Myer Philatelic Bureau October 1955
Philatelic Bureau October 1955

1963 – An auction venture
The 1960s was a time bristling with opportunities, and, in 1963, Phil took the bull by the horns and launched his auction business. It proved to be an unmitigated success. The first public sale of stamps and coins was held at Amethyst Hall in Melbourne, and attracted around fifty bidders. From these humble beginnings, Phil’s auction venture expanded rapidly.

Known today as Downies Australian Coin Auctions (ACA), Downies auction department attracts hundreds of participants to its regular public sales, with collectors attending in person, or bidding online or by post. Australia’s oldest numismatic auction house, Downies ACA will celebrate its 55th anniversary in 2018.

1977 – The next generation

Young Ken with Phil 1986 at ACA Sale #200
Young Ken with Phil 1986 at our ACA Sale No. 200

Phil’s son, Ken joined the company in 1977. Ken’s vision and passion for numismatics created a greater focus on coins and banknotes – both new and old – and the company moved from strength to strength.

1984 – Downies in print

Money Cover May 1990
Money Cover May 1990

In 1984, Ken introduced the journal Spotlight on Numismatics. In 1990, this became Money, a magazine which is still in print today. For nearly four decades, Downies has provided a full mailorder service through a variety of general and specialist publications, bringing its clients a wide array of products. Today, customers are able to place their order by phone, fax, mail and email.

1991 – Retail – the personal touch

Our Southgate store in Melbourne

Downies launched retail outlets in Sydney and Melbourne in 1991 and 1994 respectively. This enabled the company to bring an extensive array of items to collectors, and helped to share Downies love of coins with the widest possible audience.

Downies ‘personal touch’ also extends to the major Money Expo coin & banknote shows held across Australia. Ken often attends, and continues to share his love of coins and banknotes with numismatic enthusiasts, both young and old.

1998 – Moving Online

Downies Website
Downies Website

In March 1998, Downies launched its website, Helping to pioneer online services for collectors, features a vast array of exciting numismatic and other material, including all the latest releases from Australia and around the globe.

RBA Cover
RBA Cover

2005 & 2015 – ‘The auction house of choice…’

A major highlight in the company’s long history, Downies Australian Coin Auctions was chosen to host the Auction of the Gold Coins of the Reserve Bank of Australia – arguably the most exciting, most prestigious sale in the history of Australian numismatics. Downies was selected in 2015 to disperse the Royal Australian Mint’s Master Collection – an assemblage of utterly unique ‘production standard master’ coins, used to ensure the highest quality in the creation of Australia’s coinage.

2012 & 2015 – Continuing to grow…

Downies continues to expand, and, in a bid to accommodate our ever-growing workforce, we established spacious new headquarters in Melbourne’s east in 2012. Likewise, the growing nature of our retail business meant that we needed to find new premises for our Melbourne store. The perfect setting, our Melbourne retail outlet moved to Southbank in 2015 – one of the city’s most important shopping precincts.


Today and tomorrow – a global powerhouse

Downies proud history continues, with a third generation of the family having now entered the business. Australia’s largest coin and collectables dealer, we are also the world’s largest distributor of numismatic products for the Royal Australian Mint and Perth Mint.

Downies is the official representative in Australia for many international mints, including Britain’s Royal Mint, the Royal Canadian Mint, the Austrian Mint and the Mint of Japan.

We continue to work hard to cater for the needs of our customers. So whether you are buying a coin for a child’s birthday or sourcing an exclusive Australian rarity, we offer the same care and attention that Phil Downie did back when the company started in 1932.

Although we are proud to have achieved this major 85th anniversary milestone, we will never rest on our laurels. Indeed, Downies 85th anniversary celebrations will see us reaffirm our long-term commitment to providing the best range, service and value in the industry. We hope you will join us in the celebrations!


Day 7 - Narrabri to Tamworth

Just an update on the strut...Mike (from Kar 1996, which had been totalled the previous day) arrived a little after 10pm (direct from Dubbo Hospital after breaking his hand in the accident) with our new strut. It was after midnight last night when Dion from Kar 0157 and John from Kar 2009 finished working on our Kar. We can never express our gratitude enough for these guys.

Heading off this morning from Narrabri Heading off this morning from Narrabri

After a pretty good day rallying yesterday, the results posted showed we came 10th for the day and are at 14th overall. They also start a repechage competition from today that is for everyone who at this stage of the rally is not in the top 10. We are equal 6th in the repechage scoring system after the first day.

So this morning we were back on the road ready to rally. A Class 1 for 105km got us started. We think we ended up a minute slow on this one. This was closely followed by another Class 1 of 114km with much the same result.

Lunch today was in the town of Manilla and a solid afternoon of rallying followed. We began with a 96km Class 3 where we again think we were a minute slow and likewise for the 55km Class 4 to finish the day.

We drove through some beautiful countryside but unfortunately we don't really get to appreciate it or stop and take a photo or anything. We had a lot of shire roads today which meant a lot of oncoming traffic. Some of the locals come out to watch us all go past and wave at us, sometimes even stopping you to make a donation. Others just see us in a negative light and really don't want us to be there. There were a couple more Kars lost today either through accidents or mechanical issues and again we were grateful nobody was seriously hurt.

At Limbri approaching Tamworth At Limbri approaching Tamworth

The stages today were so different and had so many different issues to contend with - roadworks, graders, wandering livestock and so many grids and causeways - they all present different challenges.

And so tonight in Tamworth. Some awards were given out tonight. The most notable was the Kraziest Krew which went to Kar 27. These are the boys of Teletubbies fame from the first day. They have had a different theme of costume every day of the rally and kept us entertained with their antics!

The rallytives at dinner tonight raised over $2,000 for one of the drivers to shave off his beard so he could afford to come to next year's rally! So they shaved off one side of his beard and the opposite side of his head! Their logic is that if he finishes the rally tomorrow, they will complete the job...I do hope for his sake he finishes!

The beard/hair cut! The beard/hair cut!

Watch a video of the shave for charity here

So tomorrow is our final day. We have no scores for today as they like to keep them secret until the final dinner tomorrow night. So off to Taree in the morning...goodnight!

Day 5 - Rest Day and Day 6 - Dubbo to Narrabri

Day 5

Before I get on to the days rallying, I should explain why there was no blog post for yesterday - it was our rest day! We usually have a rest day mid rally to allow people to have a break and attend to things like getting their Kars fixed and doing their laundry and well...just having a break! Of course we had pre-ordered two tyres (from two different places) so they had to be picked up and also needed to try to find a rim to replace the one destroyed the previous day. So, we picked up the tyres, found a replacement rim, washed the Kar, unpacked all our stuff from the gear truck, repacked, made up 100 gift bags for the children at the school we would be visiting in Baradine...and that was just the morning! We all gathered for wonderful lunch hosted by Kar 2 at their workplace.

On return to our motel, we reloaded what we didn't need on to the gear truck and filled the Kar ready for an early start. Traditionally our rest day finishes with a fancy dress dinner which this year had the theme "hats and wigs". There were certainly some sights to behold! The auctioneer had also travelled to Dubbo to auction off some more items to raise even more money for the Kidney Kids - a total of $15,000 was raised from the auction which was a great result. There was also a raffle conducted by our Ambo, Phil Hoey which raised even more money, but the raffle prize was 3 x $4,000 to go towards the winners fundraising for next year. Phil works really hard all year raising funds for Kidney Health and donates that money back via the winners of his raffle. He was also presented with a special 'Operation Angel' Award from Kidney Health Australia for his dedication to the cause for over 20 years. Congratulations Phil!

Day 6

We had an earlier than usual start today with 4 stages ahead of us. The first was a Class 2 (ave 80kmh) of 111km. Once again, lots of grids, humps and gutters. The funniest site of the day was a cow by the side of the road on our side of the fence...I picked up the radio to announce that there was a cow on the road but just as I started to speak, the cow jumped back over the fence into the paddock! I never knew they could jump so high!

I thought Ken was driving a little more cautiously than normal and we came in 3 minutes late. But as it turned out, everyone must have been the same as we ended up being 1 minute early. (We only lost 1 point instead of the 3 we had expected). A short transport took us to the second stage - a massive 132km Class 1. Some very rough causeways on this one but we managed to come through one minute early. We then drove into Baradine where the Central School put on a wonderful lunch for us and we gave out some goodies to the 100 kids that attend there.

Then to Stage 3 - a 96km Class 2 through the Pilliga - more of the same with some creeks thrown in for good measure. Once again, we estimated a 3 minute late penalty, but ended up being 1 minute early again!

Some Kars weren't lucky today... Some Kars weren't lucky today...

A very short transport took us to our final stage for the day. Because of some grading work that was being done on the planned route, it was shortened to a Class 3, 50km stage through the Pilliga scrub. About 5km from the end, we hit a hole and we hit it hard. We could smell rubber but a quick check of the tyres seemed fine, so we soldiered on and managed to finish the stage 1 minute early (we thought) but turned out to be even. When we arrived at control, they could smell the rubber too, but we thought it best to try to get into Narrabri. On arrival at Admin, we realised the front wheel was at a funny angle.  A couple of our fellow rallytives had a look at the Kar and told us the bad news...we had bent one of the front struts so it now resembled a banana and hence the tyre rubbing against it was the rubber we could smell. A quick ring around Narrabri to get the part proved unsuccessful, but once again a fellow rallytive from Kar .05 contacted a mate who was driving up from Dubbo this evening to pick up the part we needed. So as I write this, the damaged strut has been removed and the Kar is sitting up on a jack waiting for the part to arrive in the next 10 minutes or so. Once again, our friend from Kar 0517 is here to help, this time, late at night to help put the new strut in so we can continue rallying tomorrow. Seriously, these people are absolute legends!

IMG_4102 Bent front strut!

Day 4 - West Wyalong to Dubbo

Well it was a good day relatively speaking...there were some major changes to the routes we were taking so it was a bit of late preparation for the navigators to change the directions in their road books. The first rally was changed from a Class 3 to a Class 2 as they had to re-route us around a particularly difficult part of the stage, again because of the risk of getting bogged, but 105km later we managed to come through unscathed and in perfect time! A welcome pause in Condobolin for a pit stop and we were onto the next stage - this one a 125km Class 3 - presented us with some challenges like fallen trees, deep gutters and rocky sections but we managed to nail it, albeit 2 minutes early.

IMG_4092 Lunch at the Rabbit Trap Hotel!

A lovely lunch and fuel stop in Albert at the Rabbit Trap Hotel and we were off on what was to be our final stage for the day (the last planned stage was cancelled). This section had been again downgraded from a Class 2 to a Class 1 of 100km with some major changes to the route. We were humming along beautifully and then, 2kms from the end, when we had slowed down to prevent being too early, we hit a concrete causeway, which we hadn't seen as the edge was camouflaged with water. It was a big hit and we knew we had done some damage, but we were determined to make it to Control 2km down the road. They heard us coming...

Anyway, we made it and then pulled over to check the damage. One tyre, beyond repair but worse, the alloy could see exactly where we had hit that causeway! Thanks once again to Dion from 0517 for his help changing the tyre on some pretty soft ground - this man manages to fit every piece of equipment you could possibly need on a rally into the boot of his Kar and is always there to help - we are most grateful. Fortunately, we had already organised in advance to pick up two new tyres in Dubbo, so now we will have to look for a rim as well! But the good news was we totally nailed the stage once again in perfect time!

The dust creates eerie scenes on the road The dust creates eerie scenes on the road

There were certainly some challenges on Day 4 - driving down tracks that were so tight with trees on either side as well as saplings in the middle of the road that you couldn't avoid as there was nowhere to go, some turns that were incredibly tight, lots of water, lots of mud and massively deep gutters - gotta love it! But we will freely admit, we are looking forward to our rest day tomorrow!

So 7th for the day and 16th overall - we don't think we are doing too badly at all!

IMG_4094 Best presented Kar for 2015 (ours) next to the 2016 awardee. Just needs a clean!

Orange to West Wyalong

Billy, the Kidney Kar Rally mascot, waves us off Billy, the Kidney Kar Rally mascot, waves us off

Nothing special to report from last night really...we managed to move up a few places, only losing 2 points for being early in the first section, 3 for being early in the second and believe it or not, we were even in the last stage! We had a lovely dinner at the Orange Ex-Services Club and a long chat with Pam & Dick Graham who are 'sweeps' on the rally and have been around the rally circuit for years and are a never ending source of some very funny stories! Spent the night at the Templars Mill Motel and it was lovely - highly recommended.

Frosty mornings! Frosty mornings!

We woke to a frosty morning with ice all over the Kar and headed off for breakfast back at the Club. At the briefing from the Road Director, he advised some changes and unfortunately another stage cancellation (was to be our last stage for the day), again due to the hazardous conditions. We are only grateful that safety is always the prime concern on the Kidney Kar Rally.

Our first stage this morning was over Mount Canobolas - an 82km Class 3, so an average speed of 70kmh. There were some parts that were quite a deal slower, with some very rough rocky sections and a fair bit of water. We even had ice on the road in the early part of this stage! But some beautiful scenery when I could glance up quickly from the road book, terra trip and radio duties! Right towards the end we went through a rough creek and from that point a noise started in the front wheel area. No it wasn't a flat...we decided to press on as we only had a few k's to the end of the stage. When we pulled up to control everyone was looking at the front wheel area and it turned out a large piece of cowling had torn off and was rubbing against the wheel. We headed into the next town (Eugowra) and Dion from Tumut (Kar 0517) helped us out - he simply cut it off and pulled it out and threw it in the nearest bin! And so we went on!

The next stage for the day was a 98km Class 3. So many narrow cattle grids, my bones were starting to shudder! Lots of water again and some detours around large water filled holes to avoid us doing too much damage! At the end of the stage we maybe came in a little early...

An early lunch at the Services Club in Forbes was certainly welcome, albeit a little short in time before we had to leave to make it out to the starting control for the last stage of the day. This one was a 98km Class 1, so the average speed should be about 85kmh. As it is an easier stage we also had to participate in a visual navigation exercise where we had to answer specific questions along the way. They are worth points so everyone tries hard to spot the answers and the answer sheets are handed in at the final control.

Canola at last! Canola at last!

As the last stage was cancelled, we headed straight into West Wyalong where we will be staying tonight. We took the opportunity of some spare time to have our damaged tyre looked at in town, but alas it was not fixable and they didn't have a replacement for it, so until we get to Dubbo we will just have to manage with 5 tyres and one spare rim!

Dinner tonight at the West Wyalong Services Club before we head off to rally our way towards Dubbo in the morning. The following day is a rest day, so other than shopping around for some tyres, we can hopefully rest up and reorganise our gear truck storage a little!

Day 2 - Oberon to Orange

From a very chilly Oberon this morning, we headed off on a short transport section to reach the first rally for the day. A 64km Class 3 with lots of forest and quite a few Roos. We hit some big rocks and fallen trees but the Kar seemed to bounce over most and we came through unscathed!

IMG_4068 Plenty of sheep to slow us down!

Then a 40km transport section to take us to our second rally for the morning - but first we had to get past the sheep! Fortunately it didn't take too long as the farmer was there in his golf buggy and had his kids helping to herd the flock across the road! Anyway, onto the next rally section - this one a class 4 of 83km. This section replaced the one that was originally planned so we had replacement pages for the road book. Lots of very short distances between instructions so there were lots of turns and I really had to keep my wits about me to make sure my instructions to Ken were clear and we didn't miss a vital turn along the way! We hear many weren't so lucky and missed the odd turn here and there, but we can be thankful we did well!

Another short transport to head towards rally 3 - another class 4 of 75km. This one had lots of grids with cattle on the road along the way. The last part of this rally took us down razorback which was a pretty hairy ride from my side of the Kar with a sheer drop down off the edge of a very narrow, rocky road! I admit I was leaning towards the driver just a bit during this part! The views over the Turon Valley during this stage were quite spectacular, but the time you get to glance at it is only a fleeting moment!

IMG_4069 The Turon Valley

Finally it was time for lunch, so we headed back to Mt Panorama to the Bathurst Light Car Club where the SES put on a fantastic lunch for us all!

Due to the road conditions north of Orange, our last stage for the day was cancelled. The 'day before Kar' had been bogged the previous day and the occupants walked several kilometres to find a farmer with a tractor that could pull them out. Much of the track was like this so it was decided to cancel the section, rather than risk dangerous conditions. So from Bathurst, we headed straight to Orange where we spend the night. Dinner tonight at the Ex-Serviceman's Club so if there is any news to report from the dinner I will include it tomorrow!

Day 1 of the Rally

IMG_4059Well day 1 is done! Can't say with my hand on my heart that it was a great day, but we did OK!

Started with a 38 km transport to get us to the start of the real stuff. And start with a vengeance we did. A class 4 (average speed 60km per hour) for 65km where the opening warning in the road book was a triple caution to look out for abundant wildlife! We made it through without hitting any and were a little faster than the average. We had to make a detour at the next transport stage as nature was calling loudly!

Then began a 68km class 3 where we could go a little faster (ave 70) which we breezed through but again a little too quickly. Then a very short transport to reach the most gruelling stage of the day, a class 5 (ave 50km/h) which was an unbelievably rough stage with lots of rocks, lots of slippery mud, humps, deep gutters and fallen trees which had been cut by the 'day before car' to enable us to squeeze through them. About 18km from the end of this section we lost our first tyre of the rally. Unfortunately the wheels had been secured using a rattle gun. If you don't have one with you to unscrew the nuts, they are nigh on impossible to unscrew by hand! So onto our trusty radio to ask for response. We continued to try to move the nuts but no luck. Unbeknownst to us, there had been a major collision way back in the stage where two cars had t-boned each other, so the entire group (bar the first few Kars including us) was held up for quite some time. We were wondering why no rally Kars were coming past...about half an hour later we finally got assistance from the Kar carrying the Teletubbies, who in full costume, managed to get the nuts off and change the wheel for us! It was a sight indeed!

Teletubbies to the rescue! Teletubbies to the rescue!

As it turned out, because of the accident and another Kar rolling onto its roof, the whole stage was cancelled, so we were not disadvantaged at all. Most importantly, no-one was hurt.

IMG_4058 Jenolan Caves House

We then drove down the narrow, windy road to Jenolan Caves House which was our lunch venue for the day. A bit of a detour coming out from lunch before we worked out we were heading in the wrong direction! We finally found our way through the Grand Arch and back up another narrow windy road to the start of the last section for the day - a 53km Class 4 - which alas once again we were a little too much quicker than the average...

IMG_4061 The Grand Arch Jenolan Caves

Still, we arrived in Oberon which is where we stay tonight. Exhausted so heading to bed for some beauty sleep to be ready for a 7am briefing in the morning before we head off to Orange!

We have arrived!

Only just over 5 hours driving today from Wodonga to Bathurst where we were greeted by blue sky and warmth through the Kar windows...of course it was a little chillier outside the Kar, but only a little.

We passed through many towns today - including Young, Cowra, Lyndhurst, Carcoar and Blayney - but the most noticeable thing was the lack of canola. We are very much used to seeing massive fields full of bright yellow canola in NSW and it was sorely missed. We stopped in Gundagai for fuel and a coffee and decided to skip lunch. So we drove through to Bathurst, checked into our motel, caught up on emails and phone calls and put out a Facebook call to the locals to recommend a place to eat! We ended up having an early dinner at Jack Duggan's Irish Pub - great venue and the meals were not only HUGE but delicious!


After receiving a message from a fellow rallytive (a local) we then made the short walk up to The George' where about 20 of the rallytives were catching up for dinner. As we had already eaten, we joined them for a couple of drinks and caught up with Katie from Kidney Health Australia as well.

It is great to see some of the group we have befriended over the last 7 years or so and we look forward to seeing the rest of them at registration tomorrow.

1 ... 5 6 7 8 9 ... 24