The Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands is an external territory of Australia consisting of two groups of small low-lying uninhabited tropical islands in the Indian Ocean situated on the edge of the continental shelf north-west of Australia and south of the Indonesian island of Rote.
The territory includes Ashmore Reef and Cartier Island with a total area of 199.45 km2 within the reefs and including the lagoons, and 114,400 m² of dry land.
The territory is administered from Canberra by a Department which is also responsible for the administration of the territories of Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Coral Sea Islands, Jervis Bay Territory and Norfolk Island.
Due to its proximity to Indonesia, and the area being traditional fishing grounds of Indonesian fishermen for centuries, some Indonesian groups claims Ashmore Reef to be part of Rote Ndao Regency of East Nusa Tenggara province. However, the Indonesian government does not appear to actively contest Australia's possession of the territory. Australia's sovereignty is backed up by the fact that the territory was not administered by the Netherlands (Indonesia's former colonial power), but by the British before it was transferred to Australia.
A memorandum of understanding between the Australian and Indonesian governments allows Indonesian fishermen access to their traditional fishing grounds within the region without any formal visa arrangements.
There is no economic activity in the Territory. As Ashmore Reef is the closest point of Australian territory to Indonesia, it was a popular target for people smugglers transporting asylum seekers to Australia. Once they had landed on Ashmore, asylum seekers could claim to have entered Australian territory and request to be processed as refugees.
This is the first coin ever produced for the Ashmore and Cartier Islands.