Following a longstanding tradition, the Royal Australian Mint allowed a randomly chosen member of the general public to strike the first coins of the new year.
A Taiwanese exchange student has pressed the first coin of the year at the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra after only finding out about the annual tradition the day before.
It's been two years since coin enthusiasts have been able to gather in-person to mint the first coins of the year, but this time there were no long lines or people camping out overnight.
Instead, the first 200 people to visit the mint on Sunday morning were entered into a ballot for the first 100 coins.
Mina Hsu, who studies at the Australian National University, was the first to be selected.
"Very excited and super surprised because I just [found out about] this event yesterday," she said.
This year's coin collection, Creatures of the Deep, celebrates the underwater discoveries made by CSIRO scientists aboard the research vessel Investigator.
The coins feature the flagship vessel as well as rarely seen deep sea creatures, including bigfin squid, brittle star, dumbo octopus, gold coral, cactus urchin and the spiny king crab.
Royal Australian Mint's Leigh Gordon and CSIRO's Elanor Huntington
"One of the purposes of the Royal Australian Mint is to tell Australian stories to Australians, and the CSIRO, as Australia's national science agency, is really privileged to be able to showcase our unique flora and fauna and contribute to that storytelling," CSIRO acting chief executive Elanor Huntington said.
Professor Huntington said the discoveries were made during several voyages along Australia's southern and eastern coastline, reaching some of Australia's deepest habitats.
Not only is Mina's coin the first to be minted in 2023, but it is also the first to feature a new design of Queen Elizabeth II.
The coin pays tribute to the late monarch's 70-year reign with the words "Elizabeth II 1952-2022".
"It's a touching memento of what the Queen did for Australia and her contribution for the Commonwealth," Royal Australian Mint chief executive Leigh Gordon said.
"It's a very special coin for us to have that effigy on it and respect Her Majesty's reign."
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Taiwanese student strikes first coin of 2023 as Royal Australian Mint unveils Creatures of the Deep collection
Wayne Homren, Editor
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