David Unaipon was an Aboriginal Australian inventor, writer, and preacher, who is widely recognized for his significant contributions to the fields of science and literature. Born on September 28, 1872, in the Point McLeay Mission, South Australia, Unaipon grew up in a time when Indigenous Australians faced immense discrimination and marginalization.

Photograph of David Unaipon | Source: Wikipedia

Despite the challenges he encountered, Unaipon developed a passion for knowledge. Unaipon’s legacy lies in his contributions as an inventor, he holds several patents for his inventions, including a mechanical handpiece for sheep shearing and a centrifugal engine. His inventions were inspired by observing the mechanics of nature and embodying principles present in Indigenous culture.

Aboriginal Rock Art, Northern Territory, Australia | Source: AS

Beyond his scientific pursuits, Unaipon had a deep love for literature and storytelling. As a writer and lecturer, he sought to challenge the negative stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding Indigenous Australians. Unaipon aimed to promote understanding and appreciation of Indigenous culture, utilizing Aboriginal mythology and storytelling traditions in his works. Today, Unaipon’s work serves as a symbol of resilience, creativity, and the power of cultural heritage. His legacy offers a pathway for future generations to embrace their identity and actively contribute to society while honoring their Indigenous roots.

Australia 50 Dollars | 1995 | Source: Banknote World Educational

The first generation $50 Dollar banknote featuring Unaipon first started circulation in 1995. Australia 50 Dollars, 1995. The polymer banknote is colored in shades of yellow, green, orange, blue and purple. The obverse side features a large portrait of David Unaipon in addition to technical designs of his inventions and a church. The reverse side features an image of Edith Dircksey Cowan and the Parliament of Western Australia building.

Australia 50 Dollars | 2018 | Source: Banknote World

The 2nd generation featuring Unaipon was first released in 2018. Australia 50 Dollars, 2018. This is a standard circulation banknote issued by the Reserve Bank of Australia. It is a polymer banknote colored in shades of yellow, red, orange, green, blue, and purple. Its obverse side features an Acacia humifusa plant, a black swan (Cygnus atratus) in SPARK, ngaitji totems, the Ngarrindjeri national shields, and a portrait of David Unaipon. Its reverse side shows the King Edward Memorial Hospital, a gumnut brooch, and a portrait of Edith Cowan. Because the note is made of polymer, it does not have a security thread.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Unaipon

https://kids.britannica.com/students/article/David-Unaipon/626823

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