Commentary: February 2016 Archives

Mint Open Day

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Today is the 50th anniversary of decimal currency in Australia.

For reasons unknown, the Mint had an open day to celebrate it yesterday instead of today.  So Neil and I went along.

Whereupon we were instantly frustrated with poor crowd control.

We arrived at about 8:15 for the 8:30 opening.  We'd paid for our factory walk tickets on Friday, so we expected to be able to line up for that, do the tour, and then go and buy the special edition coin after that.  Except that there was a lot of confusion about the queuing.  There seemed to be only one queue, and several stalls setup.  One seemed to be ready to sell the coin, but they said they weren't open yet.  Fair enough.  But both a security guard and a person in the booth said we should go join the queue (I said we already had our floor walk tickets).  So we did that.  But people in the queue didn't have their factory walk tickets, so I was wondering if we'd have to wait in line behind everyone buying tickets, when we should just be able to go straight through.  But after a while, someone wandered down the queue and said this was actually the queue to buy the coin.  We decided since we were there, we may as well just do that first, then do the tour afterwards.

Mint queue

Except.

They had the most inefficient system EVER to sell the coins.  They had a grand total of two eftpos machines for the transactions, and were also recording all the sales on laptops.  It was incredibly slow and inefficient and we were standing in the hot sun with no shelter for an hour and a half!!!!! I complained to their twitter that they needed to open up more registers to sell the coins.  Later on they said they did, although we didn't see it.  I also asked someone if there could be a cash only lane to get through people more quickly but they wouldn't do that either.  The stoopid thing was, people were buying them in bulk, for the sole purpose of profiteering off them.  The coin was $20, but when I got home they were on ebay for $35-$40.  I seriously considered doing the same thing but I was already so filled with rage at all the people taking so long I didn't want to join the ranks of the people I hated.

Mint chaos

So at 9:45 we finally got our coins and went inside.  They encouraged people to buy tickets online to save queuing, but there were no queues at all inside.  Wish they could have been so efficient *outside*.

Anyways.

Things improved enormously once inside.  The staff were all super friendly and helpful and enthusiastic about answering questions.  They were great.  The tour was just a slow walk through the tool room, the circulating coin hall, the proof room and the packing rooms.  It was pretty slow in places but it was super cool to see the coin pressing machines up close while they were running.  The proof room is where they manually press and carefully check all the coins used in proof sets.  Normally it's a clean room so I felt a bit bad for them having to deal with all the extra dust we were tramping through the room.  They had a lot of reject coins!  Interestingly, every single person working in the proof packing rooms was an asian lady!  Better attention to detail by them?  Who knows!

Afterwards we went upstairs to the gallery to have a look down at the floor.  Just for fun, here's a comparison of the factory floor in late 2002 vs early 2016..

Mint floor 2002

Mint floor 2016

This is the proof room.

Mint proof room

I decided I'd come back again at a future date to have a better look through the gallery area.  Just too many people and I was tired and hungry.  So we just went home.

Mum was on the front line of the change to decimal currency fifty years ago - she worked in a bank!  Also.. happy anniversary .. :)

Also.  I've had this in my head ever since - https://youtu.be/5ZTeWLA1LAs

Kazza's "Boring Life Of a Geek" aka BLOG

IT geek, originally from Sydney, moved to Canberra in 2007. Married to "the sweetie", aka Stu. Prolific photographer, Lego junkie and tropical fish keeper.

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