Australia has long been a draw for those seeking to make their fortunes from the gold deposits which lie deep beneath the country’s rugged landscape, with many travelling from around the world in pursuit of their dream. The main gold rushes occurred after 1851, as prior to this the colonial government actually suppressed any information regarding discoveries for fear of destabilising the economy, with significant finds occurring for some fifty years after this to the start of the 20th century. However, in recent years the price of gold has risen dramatically enough to warrant a resurgence of interest in Australia as a source of the precious metal, with a number of commercial mining companies operating there as well as a booming sideline in small-scale prospecting as bold individuals seek to recreate the glory days of the pioneers and to reconnect with nature.
If you number yourself amongst this latter group and fancy heading Down Under for a spot of prospecting, then it’s worth doing some homework first as it’s a complex business to get involved in, not least of which is the estimated 20,000 other prospectors already out there with the same intention. The first thing any prospective digger needs is a good metal detector which, although it won’t come cheap, will be worth its weight in gold. A good place to start is with the company Minelab, who produce some of the best detectors in the world according to many in the industry, with something like the GPX 5000 making an ideal investment for the newcomer (although it will set you back a few thousand dollars). For those without quite such a high initial investment in mind, you can also try the old-fashioned way like they did in the 19th century and buy a sluice box for around $500.
The next things on your list should be a good old-fashioned pickaxe, some maps, training and something you can’t pick up in any store: good luck. The first two items aren’t that difficult to come by, while even training can easily be found with a bit of searching, and will run you around $250 for a one-day prospecting course that will teach you the basics and which might even turn up something of value. One story tells how a student found a 69-ounce nugget that is now valued at over $130,000.
Then it’s a case of choosing your location, which will require some serious research, but one particularly appealing and potentially rich seam is Victoria’s Golden Triangle, and which is likely to be most beginners’ first port of call. If you’re prepared to strike out to Western Australia, there are also plenty of gold fields in the region and which may turn up something of value, while Castlemaine in Victoria and Gympie in south eastern Queensland are also recommended by those in the know. For those of a historical bent, the Northern Territory’s Pine Creeks, and Bathurst and Bendigo are also worthy of investigation, having been the sites of several significant discoveries back in the glory days of prospecting.
You can see more of this article in our March 2015 issue of ModelsMania