50 dollar note ($50 polymer) Front - Design Back - Design


Designed by Brian Sadgrove the front of the note depicts David Unaipon. It would be fair to say that most Australians had not heard of him until this note arrived. He patented a number of inventions including advanced clippers for shearing sheep, the plans of which are portrayed to the right of his portrait. Unaipon was the first Aboriginal writer to be published and an extract from the handwritten preface to his “Legendary Tales of the Aborigines” is shown. It reads: “As a full-blooded member of my race I think I may claim to be the first, but I hope not the last, to produce an enduring record of our customs beliefs and imaginings.“ The Mission Church and an Aboriginal couple at Point McLeay, South Australia, where Unaipon was educated is shown at the left of the note

Edith Cowan was a social worker and the first female parliamentarian in 1921 when she was elected to the Western Australia State Parliament. She was active in promoting improved conditions for women, migrants and disadvantaged children. Her portrait appears on the back of this note. The building at the top left is the Western Australian Parliament House as it was when Cowan was a member – it is substantially different today. To the right of Cowan is a foster mother with four State wards and Cowan at a lectern as she often was championing one of her causes.

Security Features:

Those discrete to this note include:

(a) A clear window larger than that on lower denominations contains the Southern Cross and the denomination numeral "50" embossed twice. Both features are visible from either side of the note.

(b) When the note is held up to the light, the seven pointed Commonwealth Star becomes visible with four points on the front registering perfectly with three on the back.

(c) An image of the Australian Coat of Arms to the left of the denomination numeral on the front can be seen when it is held up to the light. This is similar to a watermark.

(d) The serial number is printed twice, in blue (top left) and in black (bottom right) on the back in differing fonts. Modern Extended is used at upper left and Butsch Grotesque at lower right.

(e) Micro-printing of “FIFTY DOLLARS” in 27 diagonal lines under Unaipon’s portrait, in 39 horizontal lines above and below the Mission Church. and in 29 diagonal lines by Cowan’s lectern. Lines are in whole or in part.

(f) Intricate, multi-coloured fine-line patterns and images are present on each side.

(g) Serial numbers fluoresce when exposed to ultraviolet light. A box containing the denomination numeral appears under the printed denomination numeral at front right under ultraviolet light.


Main colour



Date of issue

151 × 65 mm


David Unaipon

Edith Cowan

4th October 1995