The Perth Mint, located on Hay Street in Perth’s city centre, played a major part in the development of WA’s gold industry. During the 19th Century, three branches of the Royal Mint of London were established in Australia to refine gold from the gold rushes and to mint gold sovereigns and half sovereigns for the British Empire. The first two branches opened up in Sydney and Melbourne with The Perth Mint opening on 20th June 1899. The Sydney and Melbourne branches are no longer in operation making The Perth Mint Australia’s oldest currently operating mint.
A trip to The Perth Mint has been on our ‘To Do’ list for some time now and with a recent $3.5 million revamp – the biggest the Mint has seen for 115 years, now was the perfect time to go! The Perth Mint is open 7 days a week 9am – 5pm with hour-long tours departing at every 30 minutes past the hour, these cost extra.
We visited on a Saturday and found street parking directly outside of the Mint. Although parking is limited to an hour meaning we had to feed the meter again just before we took part in the tour.
The Perth Mint itself is free to enter. You can feast your eyes on the extensive range of diamond, gold and silver jewellery for sale in The Perth Mint Shop. I did have my eye on a rather fancy Argyle Pink Diamond ring but with a price tag of $50,000, I think I’ll be waiting a while! The various commemorative coins for sale were much more within our price range and we allowed Miss 4 and Miss 3 to purchase a coin each which was $15 as the souvenir of our visit.
When it was time for the tour the start we met our friendly tour guide Alex in the entry area. He led us outside onto the lawn to give us a very informative talk on the history of The Perth Mint and WA’s gold rush.
Next, we ventured inside to view the centrepiece of the new Gold Exhibition, the Australian Kangaroo One Tonne Gold Coin, the largest and most valuable coin in the world. Made of 99.99% pure gold, this huge coin measures nearly 80cm wide and more than 12cm deep. It is legal tender in Australian with a face value of $1,000,000 but is valued at over $50,000,000 at today’s gold prices. It holds the Guinness World Record for being the world’s largest, heaviest and most valuable gold coin.
Miss 3, whose experience with gold coins only extends to that of the chocolate variety, was very excited when she saw it and was full of questions; “Can we eat it?’ “Does it have chocolate inside?” “Can we take it home?”.
After deciding that the world’s biggest gold coin probably wouldn’t fit into our pocket nor was it made of chocolate, we moved on to the interactive areas of the exhibition which includes Australia’s largest natural nugget collection and the historic Perth Mint Coin Exhibition where you can view a 1899 gold sovereign – the first coin produced in Perth. The kids enjoyed looking through all the information on the various gold nuggets using the touchscreen pads.
We had fun discovering what our weight is worth in gold by hopping onto the special scales. Miss 5 was worth $1,120,054.11 exactly in today’s gold prices.
We also got the chance to handle a gold bullion worth over $500,000. It so was heavy that only my husband could lift it with one hand!
The most exciting part of the tour was being able to witness a traditional gold pour in The Perth Mint’s original melting house. The melting house is now fashioned as a small auditorium with the last remaining Furness taking centre stage.
We watched in wonder as our gold pourer Alex donned his safety gear and removed a red-hot earthware pot from the Furness which contained the liquid gold. He then proceeded to pour the liquid gold into a rectangle block which quickly cooled to form a gold bullion bar worth over $250,000!
We really enjoyed our visit to The Perth Mint. With Miss 3 and Miss 5 being fairly young I was unsure of how they would respond to the exhibition but they found it a lot of fun with the gold pouring being their favourite bit. I think Miss 3 was just a little bit disappointed that the 1-tonne coin was made of gold and not chocolate! The Perth Mint is located at 310 Hay Street, East Perth
The free Red CAT bus service is convenient for The Perth Mint. Click here to view CAT bus route. Alight at The Perth Mint CAT bus stop (number 6).
Open 7 days 9am – 5pm
New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Anzac Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
For more information visit the Perth Mint website.
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