That might seem a little strange until you discover that the scales in question provide not the usual body weight but a person’s ‘gold weight.’
As a result, not only do people willingly stand on the scales, they also loudly broadcast their weight to all and sundry. And the higher the number, the happier they are.
The huge ‘walk on scales’ is only one of the fascinating interactive exhibits to be found at The Perth Mint.
There’s also the ‘touch gold’ exhibit that encourages you to put your hands (and try to pick up) one of the last gold bars to be produced by the Perth Mint. Weighing in at 403 troy ounces and valued at AUS$250,00, it’s anchored so securely that no-one will, of course, ever be able to actually pick it up.
Established in 1899 under the auspices of the Royal Mint in London, the Perth Mint was charged with turning gold deposits from the Western Australian goldfields into gold sovereigns for use in the colony and throughout the British Empire, a practice that continued until 1931.
In the 1920s, the mint also started producing Australian coinage. Today, as one of the world’s oldest mints still in operation, it predominantly produces collectable precious metal coins such as the Australian Nugget gold coin, the Australian Koala platinum coin, and the Australian Kookaburra silver coin.
Visitors to the mint have the opportunity to purchase these, plus plenty of gold jewelry from the front of the house shop. Most, however, head first on a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of the mint, checking out the replica 1890s-style ‘gold mining camp’, watching the modern production of coins from behind glass windows, and then taking a seat in the small auditorium (once the original Melting House) to see a traditional gold pouring performance. Run hourly, a mint employee first heats the pure gold to molten temperatures, pours it into the mold, cooling it quickly to create a 6 kg gold bar. A bit like magic really. Turns out it’s more like ‘groundhog day’ with the same gold being melted over and over again.
But for me, however, the true highlight was standing on the ‘gold scale’ and discovering that my weight – in gold – was $2.5 million.