Gold detecting, a great way to see a bit of the outback and give yourself the chance to get rich quick. It's a great fun way to be in the great outdoors, maybe you won't get rich quick, but certainly with perseverance, you can eek a living, given the commitment required.
There's gold in them there hills.
If of course you do find a whopper, then read on as it can make you rich in a different way.
At this point, I know what's going through your head, you've gone, you've found your nugget. It's not quite as big as you'd have liked but, it's too big to fit in the car boot. You've got a dilemma on your hands. Do you risk leaving the nugget and going to borrow your mates truck? No, someone will find it while your gone, or you'll get the truck and not be able to find the nugget again? Don't worry this is only your dream.
The chances of finding a nugget that big are remote, in fact to my knowledge I don't think there's ever been one that big found. Having said that, the biggest nuggets in the world have been found in Australia.
There are some rules you have to follow such as asking permission to go on private land. You can't go on certain Aboriginal heritage sites either. See this site for some of the rules and regulations you have to take into account. As well as lists of places gold can be found.
I once went gold detecting with an uncle and his mate. First of all, we purchased a mining licence, get one on line here.
It's a good idea to do this. If you did find a nugget, it enables you to pitch a claim in the spot you found it and a small surrounding area. It prevents anyone else mining your spot. I think this only applies to crown land, but read up on it at this site.
Next we had to decide on an area to go to, we chose Wedderburn. It's a lovely little town and there are several motels you can choose from if you are planning to stay overnight. You could go for the day if you live near enough, although it's probably not worth it though?
We stayed at the Wedderburn Goldseeker Motel, where Myra and Gary run a friendly place with the added bonus of a restaurant. So after a long day of fossicking, you can return to a comfortable room have a shower and then kick back and tuck into some great food.
Their address is 43 – 49 High Street, Wedderburn, Victoria 3518. Telephone (03) 5494 3002. Have a look at their site so you can book a room before you go. They can handle big crowds, so take a bus full of your mates.
Next you need to have a detector (I'm presuming you are going to use a detector), you can of course pan for gold in rivers, but I've never done that, so unless you read up on it, I wouldn't bother with it. My reasoning is, if you have a detector you have got a chance to find a massive nugget. Panning? Not likely. I can't honestly see too many nuggets larger than a spec being washed down the river.
Oh, and there is actual fair dinkum mining with a railway, pick axes, lights on your head, canaries, dust and all that sort of stuff, but you won't need to worry about that kind of mining at this stage.
So, how do you get a detector? Well there's a few places around where you can rent and even buy them (best to give it a try before you buy though). The Miner's Den is a good place to start. They are at Shop 2, 517 Whitehorse Road, Mitcham, Victoria.
Telephone: 03 98731244.
This is where we hired detectors when we went. It was a while back, but I'm sure they were pretty helpful. They used to arrange a miner's license for you when we went I think, but I don't know if they still do. There are some pretty spiffy detectors nowadays and they can detect to a much greater depth, so if you are going to the bother of going, give yourself the best chance, and hire the best you can afford.
If you contemplate buying a new detector, here are some sites that have recommendations and other interesting associated topics to read;
One of the theories they used to sprout when I went looking for gold was that the best place to detect is through the diggings that the miners left there 150 odd years ago. The reasoning here is they didn't have detectors back then, only their eyes in dusty poor light. It seems reasonable that this be true. However, people over the last 50 years or at least the time that metal detectors have been around, will have gone over these, so it's probably not as likely now.
When we went, I got a buzz almost straight away. I'm rich I thought. I dug down, and retrieved a ring pull lid from fossickers, way back before they invented the ring pull that stayed on the can. After I found another 20 of these, I started to get a bit blasé about the whole thing.
This is why I say take the best detector you can. They now have settings that discriminate, you don't even get a buzz if you go over an aluminium ring pull. This is worth its weight in gold (funny about that). The big thing now is the modern detectors go much deeper than older ones. If you can see the beauty of this, you are detecting in uncharted waters. Be prepared for more digging though. Read up on the regulations for this too, as it is like a golfers divot, you have to return the soil I believe.
Also after the massive down pours we have had recently, who knows what may have been unearthed.
I said earlier, if by chance you were to find a big one, don't be in too much of a hurry to sell it for the weight alone. I heard that the big Las Vegas casinos pay as much as double for big ones. They use them as ornaments at the casinos, so check that out before you sell it.
You need to have a few things with you, such as a spade. Get one that is capable of big digging, but as light as possible - you'll know why I suggest this once you've lugged the detector and spade around all day. A compass is a must, take careful note of where the car is and what direction you take, as some have never been seen again.
Don't leave home without it.
Take sun cream, a hat, a light shirt with long sleeves if it's hot and some sort of light backpack to carry it all in. Wear boots, and watch out for the Joe Blakes.
One last thing, if you forget your compass, I learnt a trick in the Army Reserves that might be useful. Point the hour hand on your watch at the sun, north is halfway between the hour and minute hand. You might want to practise that before you go. Make sure it works, just in case I stuffed it up?
Good luck and be prepared to find a lot of old metal, but don't give up!