Australian Gold Nuggets

Australia has more gold to offer than merely the Australian Gold Coast. This country is well known for its vast and rich quantities of minerals and resources including its gold production. In the year 2019, Australia produced the second-most gold after China. Australian Gold Nuggets are gold bullion coins that have been minted by the Perth Mint since 1986. Australian Gold Nuggets have formed the backbone of the Perth Mint for many years.

The coin originates its name from gold nuggets which have played a predominant role in Australian gold history. The “Welcome Stranger” nugget found at Moliagul, Victoria in 1869 is the biggest ever gold nugget found. It weighed 78kg (173 lb) and rendered over 2,284 troy ounces of gold net. – Wikipedia

Not so long ago in 1980, the largest gold nugget found using a metal detector was also found in Kingower, Victoria, Australia. The “Hand of Faith” weighed 27.2 kg (60 lb) converting to 875 troy ounces. 

Nuggets are naturally formed pieces of native gold. They often appear as rocks that have been polished by water stream action as they are often concentrated by watercourses. The most common method of finding nuggets is with a metal detector. In certain cases, this method does not work when the gold is finely sprinkled and overlaid with bedrock and gravel wash or embedded and enclosed in quartz reef material. 

The nuggets found in Australia in general have a higher gold purity than other places on earth. Their gold purity is mostly 23 carat or higher.  

History of the Australian Gold Nugget coin

Australian gold nuggets - 1987 welcome stranger gold coin

The Perth Mint issued the first four-coin proof sets in 1986 and in 1987 the Australian Gold Nugget was introduced and became Australia’s first gold bullion coin.  

The coin derived its unique name from the reverse design that displayed the various celebrated gold nuggets found in Australia. 

  • 1 oz Gold coin portrays the “Welcome Stranger” known for the largest nugget of gold to be recorded;
  • ½ oz Gold coin portrays the “Hand of Faith” discovered in 1980;
  • ¼ oz Gold coin portrays the “Golden Eagle” weighing 32.2kg (1,135-ounces) found in January 1931 at Larkinsville, Western Australia; 
  • 1/10 oz Gold coin portrays the “Little Hero” gold nugget weighing 10.5kg discovered in the Coongan River in 1890. 

Each year the Proof sets offered new reverse nugget designs until 1989 when it was replaced by the Kangaroo, believed to be a more symbolic and recognizable representation of Australia. 

The bullion coin continued with the nugget design of 1986 until it was changed to the Kangaroo designs in 1990. Also in 1990, the first 1/20 ounce coin was produced and in 1991 the 2 oz, 10 oz and the 1 kg Gold Nugget coins were added. 

In 2011 a 1-tonne Australian gold nugget was produced breaking the world record as the biggest coin. The coin measures 31 inches (80 cm) in diameter and nearly 5 inches (12 cm) thick, with a face value of $1,000,000 AUD. This achievement elevated the Perth Mint to one of the most famous and prestigious mints in the world. 

Australian Nugget or Gold Kangaroo? 

australian gold nuggets- nuggets vs gold kangaroos

It is not unlikely to be confused about the name of Australia’s bullion gold coin. How I understand it, is that the bullion coin retained its official name as the Australian Gold Nugget stemming from the first 3 years of production. Their nickname is the Australian Gold Kangaroo as depicted on the reverse of the coins since 1989. 

The features of the Australian Gold Nuggets

The coin is minted in 99.99% pure gold which places the coin in the same class as the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coin in terms of purity.   

The coin has a frosted, smooth background which is achieved by pressing and striking the coin multiple times. The images on both sides are polished to create a liquid sheen. The contrast between the frosted background and the shining pictures gives the coin its distinctive two-tone effect. 

Each coin is issued within a hard-plastic (acrylic) capsule which gives the coin a much needed layer of protection. 

The Australian Gold Nugget is one of the few gold bullion coins whose reverse design is changed each year. The fact that the Gold Kangaroo design is changed classifies the coin in the same class as the Chinese Panda that is also changed regularly. In general, the proof coins reverse designs are being used in the following year’s bullion coins. 

The obverse

australian gold nuggets - obverse 1 oz gold coin 2020

As opposed to the reverse side of the coin the obverse featuring Queen Elizabeth II does not change each year. 

The obverse displays the sixth portrait of the Queen to appear on Australian coins since 1952. 

The Queen is portrayed from the design by Jody Clerk since 2019 wearing the Royal Diamond Diadem which was worn for The Coronation. 

She faces to the right. The design is true-like as every individual facial feature of the Queen is sculptured in perfect likeness. 

Written along the left edge “ELIZABETH 11”. 

On the right-hand side engraved “AUSTRALIA”. 

At the bottom curve the face value or legal tender of the coin with the 1 oz “100 DOLLARS”. 

The reverse

As mentioned before the reverse design of the Australian Gold Nugget is changed every year. Although the design changes a kangaroo animal is always depicted as the main feature of the reverse side. They are referred to as Gold Kangaroos as a result. 

Australian gold nuggets - 2020 obverse 1 oz coin

The kangaroo that is indigenous to Australia is also the world’s largest marsupial. The animal is of cultural, spiritual and economical significance for Australia. It is said to symbolize family, power, balance and strength and on an emotional level represent gratitude and abundance. The kangaroo is widely found in Aboriginal Art. As a national image of Australia the fact that the kangaroo cannot walk backward, represents the nation of Australia moving forward with confidence.  

At the top:

  • The artwork of the image is surrounded by the inscription “AUSTRALIAN KANGAROO”

At the bottom:

  • The date of issue e.g. 2020, 
  • The weight 1oz, 
  • Fineness 9999, 
  • And the metal’s name GOLD

The letter P for the Perth Mint is engraved at the foot of one of the trees. 

An added security feature with the 2020 bullion coin is the micro laser-engraved letter “A” that is concealed in the reverse and only visible through a magnifying glass.

Legal tender

The Australian Gold Nuggets have the status of legal tender in Australia. The imagery of the Queen on all Australian coins is indicative of the backing by the Australian government. The face value although important for tax purposes is not a true reflection of the intrinsic value of the coins. These coins trade at a premium well over the spot price of gold. 

The different ranges of coins have different face values and legal tender amounts: 

  • 1/20 oz coin: Face value of $5 AUD.
  • 1/10 oz coin: Face value of $15 AUD.
  • ¼ oz coin: Face value of $25 AUD.
  • ½ oz coin: Face value of $50 AUD.
  • 1 oz coin: Face value of $100 AUD.
  • 2 oz coin: Face value of $500 AUD (1991), $200 AUD from 1992 onwards.
  • 10 oz coin: Face value of $2,500 AUD (1991), $1,000 AUD from 1992 onwards.
  • 1 kilo coin: Face value of $10,000 AUD (1991), $3,000 AUD from 1992 onwards.

Specifications of the 1-ounce bullion Australian Gold Nugget

  • Gold Content: 1oz.
  • Minimum Gold Weight: 1oz.
  • Purity: 24 carats. 
  • Fineness: fine gold .9999 
  • Diameter: 32.10 mm.
  • Thickness: 2.65 mm.
  • Weight: 1.0001 troy oz (31.10 g).
  • Brand: Perth Mint

numismatic traders buy gold and silver any quantity


  1. Largest and purest gold bullion coins produced in the world.

    The Perth Mint is known to produce some of the world’s largest and purest gold coins on the planet. This Mint which is owned by the Western Australian government has high production standards and manufacturing precision.

    The Australian Gold Nuggets are among the purest of coins at .9999 (24-carat) fine gold in the same class as the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coin.

  2. Two-Tone finish

    The “two-tone” contrast effect of the coins, distinguish these coins from its competitors not only in terms of uniqueness but also in terms of beauty. The sheen of the two-tone effect creates the impression of “rarity”.

  3. Annual design changes

    The Australian Gold Nugget is one of the few bullion coins that are regularly changed along with the Chinese Panda. The reverse designs that are updated yearly make it the most unique bullion coin.

    It further enhances the coin’s collectibility and hence popularity among numismatics and investors.

  4. Esthetic value

    These coins are legal tender in Australia and backed by the Australian government. This is meaningful because Australia has a strong well-developed economy and democracy.

    The beautiful designs that change annually increase the esthetic value of the Australian Gold Nuggets far beyond its face value.

  5. Strong demand in the gold market

    Their liquidity is high for reasons already mentioned and there is a strong demand for Australian Gold Nuggets in the gold market. As an owner of this coin, you will always find a willing buyer.

  6. Limited annual mintages

    It is not the biggest produced coin due to the limit being placed on their mintages. Those that are released trade at a premium well above the gold spot price due to its collection value. 

  7. Covered in hard plastic capsules

    Australian Gold Nuggets are the only bullion coins that are individually packed in a hardened plastic capsule. This layer of protection is needed for this “soft” coin. The capsule actually adds to the sheen of the coin.

  8. Security

    Anti-counterfeiting measures are becoming increasingly important as the gold coin market grows and more individuals are attracted to gold coins as a means to protect and enhance their wealth. Unfortunately, bad elements are also drawn to the market where goods are exchanged. It remains the investor and an individual’s responsibility to protect yourself by making informed decisions. It is impossible and unpleasant to involve laws and regulations for every gold coin transaction.

    The Perth Mint has played their part with the 2020 release which contains a concealed laser-engraved “A” inscription which is only visible through a magnifying glass. This is a brilliant layer of protection that makes counterfeiting extremely difficult and provides peace of mind to investors. These “marks” radically increase the costs of counterfeiting, hopefully beyond the point that it is economically viable for those criminals.

  9. IRA approved

    Australian Gold Nuggets are approved for Individual Retirement Account (IRA) purposes.


Australian gold nuggets - biggest coin by perth mint
Biggest coin in the world by the Perth Mint


  1. Prone to damage

    These coins require extremely careful handling as it is known for its proneness to damage. Careful inspection of these coins is required which may complicate the buying process.

  2. Premium over the spot price of gold

    The Australian Gold Nuggets have a collector’s value that may drive its price up to significant levels above the spot price of gold. For serious gold bullion buyers, this may be problematic. Certain dealers may be able to obtain Gold Nuggets at good prices.

  3. Storage and insurance

    Smaller coins are actually easier to store than large bars. When your portfolio increases safekeeping and insurance may become problematic. IRAs also require coins to be stored by an approved trustee.  Fortunately, there are bullion dealers like that offer online accounts under a custodial arrangement. With these accounts, gold coins can be traded relatively quickly as well.

Final thoughts

The Australian Gold Nuggets count as one of the top gold bullion coins. Its outstanding features are its purity, two-tone sheen and its reverse design that is updated each year. These features add to the collectibility of the coin. There is a worldwide active market for Australian Gold Nuggets which makes this bullion coin a definite consideration for collectors and investors.

6 thoughts on “Australian Gold Nuggets”

  1. Gold has forever been known to be an excellent store of value. When currencies go through rises and falls, gold remains true to its name. When you have some wealth to store away, it is always wise to buy some gold. Ofcourse safe keeping and security will always be problematic. I like that you pointed out that there are now dealers who offer online accounts with safe custody arrangements. I would love one day to buy some gold. Thanks

    • Absolutely! There is a saying: “as good as gold”. Not many things are as “good as gold”. Except for silver in my opinion. In my opinion, silver has the same qualities as gold, but it is much cheaper than gold and by starting “small” with silver, a person can gain the confidence, knowledge and experience in precious metals.

      Good luck!

      Louis Munro

  2. I always wanted to trade in gold. But it has always been my understanding that selling or buying gold physically was impossible unless you are a big financial company.

    So, I am pretty happy to learn all the information you have packed in this article. So, the trading company or delaers you are talking about here, can they sell me gold? Or do I have to be living in Australia?


    • Owning gold as an investment, collection or hobby is different from trading in gold. By owning gold over a long period of time poses a lower risk. You can buy gold online from many trustworthy sources for example the Royal Mint, the U.S. Mint and others like Goldbroker. As a principle always check the spot price and the premium you are paying above the spot price before you buy. 

      Trading in gold suggests short term dealing. Trading in precious metals is as difficult as speculating in any market. It requires an in-depth knowledge of all the operations of the gold market. If you don’t have the necessary skill and expertise which can take years to develop you can lose a lot of money. 

      To start this journey and to get a feel for how it works, I would suggest that you buy a 1 ounce American Silver Eagle coin. They are much cheaper than gold, will always have value, are legal tender and highly liquid if you ever need to sell. 

      All the best with your journey in the precious market. Keep following Numismatic Traders for more great information that we are going to share. 

      Louis Munro 

  3. Hi,

    From my research two gold nuggets worth around A$350,000 (£190,000; US$250,000) have been discovered by a pair of diggers in southern Australia. Brent Shannon and Ethan West found the nuggets near goldmining town Tarnagulla in Victoria state. Their lucky find was shown on TV show Aussie Gold Hunters, which aired on Thursday. The men dug up the ground and used metal detectors to detect gold in the area. “These are definitely one of the most significant finds,” Ethan West said, according to CNN. To have two large chunks in one day is quite amazing. They found the nuggets, which have a combined weight of 3.5kg (7.7lb), in a number of hours with the help of Mr West’s father, according to the Discovery Channel which airs the programme.

    Thank you.


    • Hi Aluko 

      Finds like these let us “relive” the olden days of searching for gold. I was surprised by these finds, it proves that there is still a lot of precious metal out there that we can discover. 


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