$50 Banknote

  • New banknotes
  • Current banknotes
The front of the $50 banknote featuring David Unaipon. The back of the $50 banknote featuring Edith Cowan.

Who's who on the $50 banknote

David Unaipon, a Ngarrindjeri man, made significant contributions to science, literature and improvements in conditions for Aboriginal people. Despite having no advanced education in mathematics, Unaipon researched many engineering problems and developed a number of his own inventions. In 1909, he patented an improved hand tool for sheep shearing, depicted on the front of the banknote. Unaipon gained a reputation as ‘Australia's Leonardo’ for his promotion of scientific ideas. He became the first published Aboriginal writer; his earliest published works included newspaper and magazine articles and a booklet entitled Native Legends, published in 1929.

Edith Cowan is best remembered as a social worker and the first female member of an Australian parliament. Gaining insight from her husband's work as a police magistrate, Cowan was involved in many voluntary organisations throughout her life and worked towards important reforms for women, children and migrants. She helped found the Women's Service Guild, which advocated equal rights of citizenship. Cowan was also a founding member of the Children's Protection Society, which was instrumental in establishing the Children's Court, where she was one of the first women appointed to the bench. Cowan was elected to the Legislative Assembly in Western Australia in 1921.

Date of first issue

The $50 polymer banknote was issued on 4 October 1995.

Did you know?

David Unaipon believed that the aerodynamics of the boomerang could be applied to aircraft and predicted the development of the helicopter.

When Edith Cowan was elected to parliament in 1921, she narrowly defeated the then Attorney-General, T.P. Draper, who was responsible for introducing the changes to legislation that allowed her to run for the seat.

The front of the new $50 banknote featuring David Unaipon. The back of the new $50 banknote featuring Edith Cowan.

WHAT'S ON THE NEW BANKNOTE

A range of innovative new security features have been incorporated in the new $50 banknote to help keep it secure from counterfeiting. These security features are similar to those in the $5 and $10 banknotes issued in 2016 and 2017.

The new $50 banknote retains the portraits of David Unaipon and Edith Cowan, which are drawn from the same source photographs represented on the first polymer $50 banknote.

Each denomination in the new series of banknotes will feature a different species of Australian wattle and a native bird within a number of the security features. The $50 banknote features the Acacia humifusa and the Black Swan (Cygnus atratus).

The banknote celebrates David Unaipon, an inventor and Australia's first published Aboriginal author, and Edith Cowan, the first female member of an Australian parliament. Their work is recognised in several design elements on the banknote, including shields from Unaipon's Ngarrindjeri nation and images portraying the practices of miwi and navel cord exchange about which Unaipon wrote. The banknote also includes pictures of the gumnut brooch Cowan had made to symbolise that entry into Parliament was a ‘tough nut to crack’ for women, and the King Edward Memorial Hospital, a women’s and maternity hospital that she helped establish.

DATE OF FIRST ISSUE

The new $50 banknote was released into general circulation on 18 October 2018.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • The microprint features excerpts of Unaipon's book Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines and Edith Cowan's maiden speech to Western Australian Parliament.
  • Edith Cowan became the first Australian woman to enter parliament when she was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia in 1921.
  • David Unaipon played a vital role with the mission church Raukkan Church at Point McLeay as an organist and inspirational lay preacher.