Literary Legend, Henry Lawson - An Early Bondi Hipster


With his lush moustache and penchant for Akubra-style hats, Henry Lawson, who died in 1922 at the age of 55, certainly looked like a hipster. The famous balladeer, writer and poet had much in common with today’s bohemians. He loved nature, the Outback and was a leading member of the boho Dawn & Dusk Club of writers, who met in Sydney’s Darlinghurst for long boozy nights of spirited discussion.

However, Henry Lawson, who is now celebrated on a Royal Australian Mint 50c coin collection as part of its Treasured Australian Stories series, was so much more than a great writer. He encapsulated the dry laconic Australian sense of humour, which has made him such an enduring cultural icon. He told of campfire life, boiling a billy can and what it was like to live in the time of the Australian gold rush, which ended in 1893.

Portrait of Henry Lawson by May Moore

Discover Henry Lawson’s Stories In Mint Condition 

Three of his best known works, including The Drover’s Wife, On the Edge of a Plain and The Loaded Dog, are each depicted on one side of a 2022 Uncirculated 50c Coin. All three cards are included in The Royal Australian Mint’s aluminium bronze 50c coin set within a commemorative box. It’s perfect for collectors and also for those who want a tangible reminder of Australia’s literary history. Buy yours here!

His Stories Are Still Being Told Today.

Henry Lawson’s gift was bringing bush characters to life, including The Drover’s Wife, which is thought to be one of his finest stories. It is the tale of a courageous woman who lived in a remote bush settlement, experiencing loneliness and isolation with her husband away and several children to look after. Her bravery was tested when a venomous black snake appeared with eyes on her children. She managed to kill it with the help of a faithful dog. The Drover’s Wife has since been adapted as a movie and a theatre production.  The other two stories in the collection are more humorous, including The Loaded Dog. This one is set in the gold fields and involves three gold miners and their dog who suddenly takes off with a bomb cartridge. Meanwhile, On the Edge of a Plain unfolds with a worker who was feared dead but shocks his family when he turns up. Unfortunately, the novelty of having him around again soon wears off…

Henry Lawson Has Been Immortalised in Many Ways.

The writer appeared on Australia’s first $10 note and there’s also a bronze statue of him, accompanied by a swagman and a dog in Sydney’s Domain. Henry Lawson has also been featured on several Australian Post commemorative stamps. So, the Royal Australian Mint bronze aluminium coin collection is a sparkling addition to this celebratory heritage. Purchase your collection here

He Had To Wait Until Death To Reach Legendary Status.Image of three Aluminium Bronze 50c coins featuring images inspired by Henry Lawson poems

Henry Lawson, who was partially deaf, lived most of his life in poverty; including the time he spent in lodgings above a North Sydney coffee palace. He took on many casual jobs, including being a roustabout; his later years were marked by alcoholism and mental health issues.

Following his death from a cerebral haemorrhage on September 2, 1922, he was given a State Funeral as “a distinguished citizen,” attended by the Prime Minister, Billy Hughes and the NSW Premier, Jack Lang.

Henry Lawson’s final resting place is Waverley Cemetery, situated along the coastal walk from Coogee to Bondi. But his life and times certainly live on all across Australia and beyond.

The Royal Australian Mint’s Henry Lawson 2022 Uncirculated 50c Coin Collection is one to be treasured by coin collectors, hipsters and all of those who love a good story. 

These coins are available now from the Mint’s online store at or by calling 1300 652 020

Article written by Ros Reines, Journalist, Novelist & Award Winning Content Writer

Image credits:

Portrait of Henry Lawson by May Moore - Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

Three Henry Lawson Coins - Royal Australian Mint