The Gold Journey Through the Years
How it all Started
I had always been interested in gold panning since I was young, my grandmother spent time at the Steiglitz gold fields as a child in the late 1880s when my great grandfather worked the mines there for a short period - her baby brother was buried there. I had been traveling in Asia during the late 1980s selling opals and on my return, a bloke who was living at the back of our house talked about his purchase of a metal detector. I scoffed and laughed at him until silenced by the sight of an ounce nugget he had found. I was sold, quickly headed off to the shop to purchase a Whites Coinmaster. On the third day of prospecting I found my first piece at Wedderburn - a 3 - 4 gram nugget.
The First Patch
After finding odd pieces in many different places, I finally hit a "virgin" patch south of Ballarat. The early alluvial miners had missed a small area just off their workings. This patch yielded 26 ounces, the largest being 6 ounces. Thus began an obsession with discovering nuggets in previously untested ground.
Getting Serious - Maps and Research
To cut down wasted time in the field (looking in all the wrong places) I found it necessary to gather as much information as possible on areas of interest. This meant pouring over old records, libraries etc. Geological and mining maps provided much information about the type of country likely to yield gold and enabled me to "prospect" an area before physically being there.
Association with Minelab Begins
In the early 1980s, I met some of the Minelab team developing their first detector. I had one of the first produced and it found good gold for me. Minelab used photos of my finds for their advertising, and I went on to test some of their prototype detectors sometimes with amazing results. To this day, I only use Australian detectors.
The Monster Patch
A friend and I had detected some nice nuggets in shallow ground on the edge of old workings. A couple of pieces seemed to suggest that the run could have branched. On a whim, I detected the ground on the other side of the road. My first signal was an 11 ounce bit. This was the beginning of a huge 300 ounce patch.
The Introduction of Pulse Induction and Highly Secretive Testing
After finding a 98 ounce nugget with a prototype Minelab VLF detector, I was fortunate to be in on the birth of pulse induction detectors in Australia. As usual, Minelab led the way, and their "top secret" development resulted in the introduction of the highly successful SD 2000. Since then Minelab have continued to develop new and better detectors.
Going it Alone
These days I find myself mostly prospecting alone, although occasionally I might team up with others on particular projects. Over the years I have experienced a buzz from training "new chums" and seeing their enjoyment of the bush and the hunt for gold.
The Washington Nugget Scam
A few year ago it was a surprise to discover that the 98 ounce nugget I had found 24 years earlier had turned up again in America with the claim that it was a Californian nugget which had recently sold for $460,000. This fraud was picked up by the media in America:
Watch the video of the story:
Moving to the Heart of the Gold Fields
Since moving to the Maldon area I have found gold in a number of local spots. There is a large area of potential which has not been hunted to death. My research so far has revealed so many areas to prospect that I can never hope to cover them all. My aim is still the same - find gold in new areas. That is what prospecting is all about! A few years back I became a tester and agent for the Ballarat built metal detector called the QED - a light weight, affordable and efficient prospecting tool. These days I am out of that scene and back to hunting gold locally and offering my services as a tutor.
Capturing the Story
My partner Jannine, has spent considerable time capturing my gold stories over the years both visually and in text. A future project is to share this unique period of prospecting history with the public. You can see the cover and an inner page in images below from the photo book version.