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The Australian Gold Kangaroo is one of the most poplar Gold Coins minted in Australia. Its origins date back to 1851, during the first Australian Gold Rush. Centered near Port Phillip, now part of Melbourne, the gold flowed into the city. A mint was set up to strike gold coins featuring a standing Kangaroo. Not many were struck and they're incredibly rare today, but the Port Phillip Gold Kangaroo was the first.
Gold never stopped flowing out of Australia's mines, and in 1989 the Perth Mint began striking a new gold coin. The obverse showed a portrait of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and the reverse featured a bounding red Kangaroo. It's been minted ever since. The Kangaroo image has changed every year, and sometimes the coin shows one kangaroo, sometimes two. This makes the Kangaroo only one of two Gold Bullion Coins along with the Chinese Gold Panda that feature an annual design change. This ever-evolving Australian Gold Kangaroo image makes the Gold Kangaroo a great collectible Gold Coin, as collectors seek to assemble a collection with all the different dates and designs.
Of course, as the official Head of State in Australia, the Gold Kangaroo always features a portrait of Her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, a design that has evolved over time. In 1991, two-ounce, ten-ounce, and 1 kilogram sizes were introduced. These were created with the intention of keeping premiums low, and are some of the largest gold coins ever minted. In 1992, the face values on these large coins were lowered to keep them proportional to the one-ounce coin. The reverse of these coins does not change annually like the lower denominations; the same "red kangaroo" design is used every year.
The Gold Kangaroo has been struck in sizes ranging from a half-gram up to one to one ton. All are minted in .999 Fine Gold and have a legal tender face value in Australian Dollars. The coins have been minted in denominations of one half-gram ($2), one-tenth ounce ($15), one quarter-ounce ($25), one-half ounce ($50), one-ounce ($100), two-ounces ($500), ten ounces (1991 = $2,500 1992–present $1,000), and one kilo (1991 = $10,000 1992 – present $3,000).
In October 2011, the Perth Mint created a one ton (one metric tonne) gold coin, breaking the record for the biggest and most valuable gold coin, previously held by the Royal Canadian Mint. The coin is approximately 80 centimeters (31 in) in diameter and 12 centimeters (4.7 in) thick. It features a red kangaroo on the front of the coin and a portrait of the Queen on the reverse. The face value of the coin is Australia $1 million, but at the time of minting it was valued at over Australia $53 million.
Most Australia Gold Kangaroos are struck in regular relief. Some limited edited Gold Kangaroos are struck in stunning high relief. The Royal Australian Mint also strikes its own Gold Kangaroo.