Oct 272014
 

In the wake of Britain’s declaration of war on 4 August 1914, the Australian Government promised 20,000 troops to the Empire’s war effort by the end of the year. Infantry and Light Horse units, along with supporting arms, were raised around the country as the young Australian nation rallied to the cause.

Within months, tens of thousands of men were mobilised, most of whom, having sailed from their state capitals, joined a convoy of ships gathering at Albany to take them to the battlefields of the Northern Hemisphere. As the first contingent of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) gathered in King George Sound, they were joined by the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) – creating a joint military formation – the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps – which, within a few months, became known by the acronym Anzac.

Albany, the oldest permanently settled town in the West, with its idyllic inner harbour, sheltered on all sides from the Southern Ocean, was large enough to accommodate the biggest convoy to have ever left Australia. For many of the troops, route marches around the town and its environs were the last time they set foot on Australian soil.

Shrouded in secrecy demanded by military censorship, the convoy’s arrival must have perplexed the residents of the normally quiet town. In the course of a few days, they witnessed the arrival of more than 20,000 men, 8,000 horses and tons of materiel – from tents and provisions to the weapons of war.

Convoy-in-King-George-Sound-Albany

The first AIF convoy assembles in King George Sound. (Australian War Memorial PS0078.)

The flotilla of 36 troop transports arrived at the rendezvous between 24 and 28 October. Requisitioned by the Commonwealth, they still bore the insignia of their civilian owners. All that distinguished them from ordinary passenger liners or cargo ships was a large white square near the bow and stern on which the letter ‘A’ and the transport’s number was painted. The New Zealand transports were painted uniform grey, with the letters H.M.N.Z.T. and their number on their sides.

Cruising ceaselessly within and outside the harbour, keeping watch over the crowded vessels was HMAS Melbourne, one of the convoy’s four naval escorts. Nine days after leaving Albany, Melbourne’s sister ship, HMAS Sydney won the Royal Australian Navy’s first victory at sea when she broke away from the fleet and destroyed the hitherto elusive, and very dangerous German raider, SMS Emden.

In the days before departure, amid the feverish preparations, many of the troops went ashore to take part in route marches. The people of Albany thus became the last to see some of the AIF’s original units parade through Australian streets.

Victorian troops passing along the Main Street. (Contact Advertiser Print, Albany to purchase this image.)

The convoy weighed anchor at 5.30am on the fine Spring morning of 1 November. The men were delighted to be on the move again, and over the next three hours the ships moved in single file beyond the sanctuary of the heads. As the ships passed Breaksea Island, the lighthouse keeper’s daughter, Faye Howe, signalled her best wishes to the departing fleet.

The fleet’s flagship and lead transport was HMT Orvieto, carrying 94 officers, 1,345 other ranks and 21 horses. A gap of roughly 800 yards was maintained between each vessel, and the convoy covered an area of ocean some seven and a half miles in length. Their sailing speed was determined by the slowest ship, HMAT Southern, at approximately 10.5 knots.

Two days out of Albany, the ships were joined by the Japanese battlecruiser HIJMS Ibuki and two more transports, HMAT Ascanius, carrying the 11th Infantry Battalion, and HMAT Medic, carrying the 8th Field Artillery Battery, both Western Australian units, and some South Australian troops. They had sailed from Fremantle to meet the convoy at sea.

Life on the troopships consisted of drills, lectures and a degree of boredom. Men on the horse transports spent their days caring for the AIF’s mounts, cleaning out their stalls, and rubbing them down as a substitute for exercise.

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HMAT Southern and HMAT Pera following HMT Orvieto out of King George Sound, 1 November 1914. (Australian War Memorial G01542)

The convoy was originally ordered to sail to England via the Suez Canal, but in late October received instructions to sail by way of the Cape of Good Hope. A Dutch revolt in South Africa threatened that country’s government and the Australasian contingents were the only forces able to provide quick reinforcements. But by October 30 the rebels had been defeated, and on the evening before the convoy was due to sail, the Suez route was reinstated.

This last minute decision to stick to the original route was one in a series of circumstances that determined the AIF’s fate. Had the force sailed around the Cape, and disembarked in England, Australians and New Zealanders may never have taken part in the Dardanelles campaign. They may instead, like the Canadians, have been thrown straight into the Western Front fighting. But after the Ottoman Empire’s entry into the war on the side of Germany in November, the force was disembarked for training in Egypt and were available to take part in the assault on the Gallipoli peninsula in April.

At Gallipoli, the AIF earned a lasting place in Australia’s history. The men who fought there have been credited with helping define elements of the national character, and for their part in that historic campaign were honoured for the rest of their lives.

This coin from The Perth Mint’s The ANZAC Spirit 100TH Anniversary Coin Series commemorates 100 years since the departure of Australia’s first convoy of military ships from Albany, Western Australia. Struck from 1/2oz of 99.9% pure silver in proof quality, the coin is issued as Australian legal tender.

The coin’s reverse portrays two ships in the convoy as they set sail from King George Sound in Albany, and a list of the 39 ships that sailed from Albany’s shores.

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The Perth Mint will release no more than 1,914 of The ANZAC Spirit 100th Anniversary Coin Series – First Convoy 2014 1/2oz Silver Proof Coin.

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Oct 272014
 

The Perth Mint’s Beijing International Coin Exposition Special is a Two-Coin Set featuring coloured releases from the Australian Kangaroo and Australian Lunar series.

2014_Beijing-Coin-Show-Special_revEach coin is struck from 1/2oz of 99.9% pure silver and issued as Australian legal tender.

The 2014 Australian Kangaroo coin depicts an iconic kangaroo in a rural location with spring wildflowers.

The 2015 Australian Lunar coin celebrates the Year of the Goat with a portrayal of three goats and the Chinese character for ‘goat’.

Presented in a display case with a unique illustrated shipper, this superb Set has a strict issue limit of just 1,000. Each Set is accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity written in English and Chinese.2014_Beijing-Coin-Show-Special

Following the Beijing International Coin Exposition, which took place between 24 and 26 October 2014, a small number of these Two-Coin Sets are now available from The Perth Mint website.

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Oct 272014
 

This Sydney ANDA Coin Show Special from The Perth Mint celebrates the Year of the Goat with a design portraying a young mountain goat leaping between two cliff tops. The rising sun in the background is said to symbolise good health.

Struck from 1oz of 99.9% pure silver, no more than 1,500 of these Lunar Good Fortune – Health coins will be released.

Accompanied by a numbered Certificate of Authenticity, each coin is housed in an upright latex display case and illustrated box shipper featuring the ANDA logo.

Good-Fortune_Health-silver-coin

Issued at the recent Sydney ANDA Coin Show, a small number are now available for sale on The Perth Mint website.

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Oct 162014
 
Rainbow-Lorikeet-Credit---Andrew-Silcocks---BirdLife-Australia

Credit: : Andrew Silcocks – BirdLife Australia

From 20-26 October 2014, during national Bird Week, thousands of Australians will be taking part in the first-ever annual Aussie Backyard Bird Count.

The goal for the week is for Australian bird counters to spot a total of 100,000 birds, providing BirdLife Australia, the country’s largest independent, not-for-profit bird conservation organization, with important data to form a more detailed picture of the current state of Australian birdlife.

As well as traditional suburban backyards, participants will be spotting birds in local parks, school yards, farms and national parks – in fact in any green patch where they feel ‘at home’.

Get involved

If you’d like to get involved, all you need is 20 minutes and some keen eyesight (or binoculars). And it doesn’t matter if you’re a novice – BirdLife Australia has developed the Aussie Bird Count app to help identify and record every feathered friend spotted at your location.

Download the free appBackyardBird-app

You’ll instantly see live statistics and information on how many people are taking part near you and the number of birds and species counted not just across your neighbourhood, but the whole of Australia!

Win a bird coin prize

A fantastic opportunity to help secure the future of Australia’s native birds, the Aussie Backyard Bird Count also provides every participant with a chance to win one of 10 superb coin prizes donated by The Perth Mint.

As well as five stunning 1oz silver coins portraying the colourful Rainbow Lorikeet, we’re also donating five Stamp & Coin Covers featuring the beautiful Striated Pardalote, to be given away by BirdLife Australia during the count.

Lorikeet_coin Birds of Australia – Rainbow Lorikeet
2013 1/2oz Silver Proof Coin
Pardalote_Coin Striated Pardalote
2013 Stamp & Coin Cover

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This first-ever Aussie Backyard Bird Count forms part of the national celebrations for Bird Week 2014, with bird-focused events taking place across the country including art shows, bird walks, camps, and breakfasts with the birds.

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Australians have been celebrating National Bird Week for more than 100 years and with Spring the peak nesting and breeding season for many of Australia’s favourite birds, it’s the perfect time to see them in action and learn more about how we can help them.

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Oct 072014
 

October sees the launch of the latest coin from the Australia Map Shaped Series featuring native Australian animals.

The new coin portrays one of Australia’s most feared reptiles, the Saltwater Crocodile. A formidable and opportunistic predator, it’s capable of killing almost any animal that enters its territory!

Map_Shaped_Saltwater_Crocodile_Coin

Australia Map Shaped Coin Series – Saltwater Crocodile 2014 1oz Silver Coin

Check out this video clip of the actual coin in capsule.

Issued as Australian legal tender, just 6,000 of these Saltwater Crocodile coins from the Australia Map Shaped 1oz Silver Series will be released in presentation packaging.

Australia Map Shaped Series

The Australia Map Shaped Coin Series has proved exceptionally popular since the first coin was issued in 2012. With a maximum mintage of 6,000, each coin is cleverly created from 1oz of 99.9% pure silver in the shape of Australia.

The Kookaburra, Emu, Kangaroo and Platypus releases have already sold out, and there are currently less than 1,000 Koala coins still available for sale. Please consider snapping up the latest release if you’re intending to pursue this series further or simply love all things crocodilian!

Map-Shaped-Series

Future assured for popular series

Contrary to information presented in this month’s Bulletin, this unique series is certain to continue in 2015 and beyond. Designs under consideration feature an adventurous and exciting selection of Australian animals that we’re sure will delight collectors going forward.

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Oct 072014
 

Struck from 1oz of 99.9% pure silver, this coin celebrates the exhilarating and dangerous activity of rock fishing. Extremely popular in Australia and New Zealand, rock fishing involves fishing straight into the sea from a rocky outcrop or platform.

Rock-Fishing_silver-coinFor your chance to win this amazing Rock Fishing 1oz silver proof coin, simply rearrange the following letters to solve the anagram.

Clue: A great catch!

ROD_GROW_MEN

How to enter: Email your answer to anagram@perthmint.com.au marking your reply ‘October 2014 Anagram Competition’ in the subject line. Please include your name, address and telephone number. Entries close on 3 November 2014. Eligible entrants will be included in the free draw and the winner will be notified by telephone or email. Terms and conditions.

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for notification of anagrams and other great coin competitions.

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Last month’s winner: Congratulations to Sharon Markwell, QLD for the correct answer of Cretaceous Period.

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