Thursday, January 14, 2010

Large Nuggets in Australia (Part 1)

(The "Hand of Faith" nugget safely ensconced at its home, the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.)
Australia is No Stranger to Large Nuggets

Australia is no stranger to extremely large placer nuggets. The aptly named “Welcome Stranger” (uncovered in 1869 a mere 2 inches beneath the surface near Moliagul, Victoria) weighed a whopping 3,523.5 troy ounces untrimmed of gangue material, with over 2,500 troy ounces of pure gold.

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Although the “Welcome Stranger” was a truly exceptional find, many other large nuggets were found in Australian goldfields before 1900, with quite a few “stunners” coming from various gold districts Down Under. One of these districts, the Wedderburn, produced the following nuggets at the specific locations listed:

Main Flat 114 troy ounces

O’Possum Point 144 troy ounces

Bocca Flat 188 troy ounces

Italian Point 196 troy ounces

Victoria Gully 255 troy ounces

Potters Hill 340 troy ounces

Champion Reef 480 troy ounces

Logical Starting Point?

Remember, there are 12 troy ounces in a troy pound, so all of these nuggets were in the multi-pound range. Just imagine hefting multiple troy pounds of natural gold in your trembling hands (not to mention the dollar signs dancing before your feverish eyes!).

If you are one of my Aussie “fossicking” or nugget hunting friends the Wedderburn District is a logical starting point for your search for larger nuggets (although I suspect many other nugget hunters have already revisited the Wedderburn area). The District can be reached via the Calder Highway some 2.5 hours northwest of Melbourne.

New Aussie “Gold Rush?”

A new Aussie “rush gold” was triggered nearly 30 years ago in September of 1980 when Kevin Hillier used his metal detector to uncover the “Hand of Faith” nugget near Kingower, Victoria. The “Hand of Faith” was a beautiful and uniquely shaped nugget that weighed in at nearly 73 troy pounds of pure gold! (I’ve seen the “Hand of Faith” firsthand and was absolutely awestruck by its size and beauty.)

I remember quite well when the news of Kevin’s find reached the States. The "Hand of Faith" (and it’s rumored selling price of over one million US dollars) created a tremendous interest here among miners and treasure hunters, many of whom rushed out to purchase state-of-the-art detectors intending to try their luck in many historic American goldfields that had lain fallow for many years.

A few of these intrepid souls even journeyed Down Under to try their luck in the heavily mineralized soils of the Australian outback. I honestly believe that Kevin’s find was the starting point for electronic prospecting and nugget hunting as we know it today.

Debt of Gratitude

All of you who employ the latest Pulse Induction (PI), very high frequency (VHF), or ultra high frequency (UHF) metal detectors designed and manufactured specifically for electronic prospecting or nugget hunting owe a debt of gratitude to Kevin Hillier and all the other “oldtimers” who paved the way for you.

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Trust me, detector technology in the early 1980s was nothing like it is today, and working iron-rich, heavily mineralized soils like those found in Australia’s goldfields could be an absolute horror at times. It was extremely difficult and frustrating work that tried one’s patience and knowledge to the max.

There's more to come regarding this subject in a future post. Take good care until then.

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Working Bench Gravels: One Canadian Miner's Success Story"


(c) J.R. 2010

Questions? E-mail me at jr872vt90@yahoo.com

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