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Uplifting Coins from Down Under

Celebrate Australia's World Heritage Sites with these new dollars from the Perth Mint.

Following success of last year's "Celebrate Australia" coins, the Perth Mint has issued a series of five, 2010-dated $1 coins that are legal tender under Australia's Currency Act 1965. Each colorized reverse features a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a wild life species found in that region: the Greater Blue Moun tains, Shark Bay, the Tasmanian Wil derness, the Heard and McDonald Islands, and the Great Barrier Reef.

The Greater Blue Mountains, named a World Heritage Site in 2000, is a spectacular wilderness located just west of Sidney that comprises almost 4,000 square acres of sandstone plateaus, deep gorges and eucalyptus forests. The new dollar coin's colorized reverse features the Three Sisters rock formation at Echo Point, along with a Blue Mountains tree frog (Litoria citropa), a 2-inch long amphibian that likes to hide under rocks near creeks and streams.

Shark Bay, which has been on the World Heritage list since 1991, is located in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia, on the edge of the Australian con tinent, and encompasses nearly 8,500 square miles. The bay's coastline extends for more than 900 miles, but the region claims less than 1,000 inhabitants, making it one of Aus tralia's least-populated areas. The coin's reverse depicts the dugong (Dugong dugon), a slow-moving, marine mammal that feeds on sea grasses and can live up to 70 years.

A World Heritage Site since 1982 the Tasmanian Wilderness covers about 20 percent of Australia's island state of Tasmania. Shaped by glaciers, it is home to multiple parks and reserves. The wilderness also is home to the Huon pine (Lagarostrobos franklinii), a slow-growing tree that can live more than 2,000 years. The $1 reverse pictures an Eastern quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus), also known as an Eastern native cat—a solitary, medium-sized, carnivorous marsupial.

The Heard and McDonald Islands, added to the World Heritage List in 1997, are located 2,500 miles southwest of Perth in the Southern Ocean. The islands' topography includes permanent glaciers and active volcanoes. Because of its inhospitable weather, the area largely has been unaffected by human contact or introduced species. The islands are home to vast colonies of penguins, petrels and seals. The dollar reverse features a Macaroni penguin (Eudyptes chry solophus), a species sporting yellow-and-black plumage similar to that of the Royal penguin (Eudyptes schlegeli).

The remarkable Great Barrier Reef has been recognized as a World Heritage Site since 1981. Encompassing more than 1,400 miles of warm, crystal-clear waters on Australia's northeast coast, it is the world's largest reef system. Teem ing with marine life, it is home to more than 1,500 species of fish, 4,000 types of shellfish, 800 species of sponges and corals, and a variety of marine mammals. The $1 reverse shows the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), one of six protected marine turtle species that inhabit the area.

The 13.8g, 30.6mm $1 coins are struck in aluminum-bronze. Designed by Australia artist Ryan Vanderwiel, they are encased in an eye-catching presentation card that has a fold-out stand for upright display. These beautiful pieces readily are available online from multiple sources, individually or as complete sets.