Above: Thirty-four ounces of gold found by author and his mate around Dunolly.
|With my holidays fast approaching I contacted one of my prospecting mates, Rob and after some discussion we decided to have a go at prospecting some of the Golden Triangle areas in Victoria. Since the gold rush days of the 1800s, this area has been well known for producing some of the largest nuggets in the world and with this in mind, we were filled with excitement and high hopes about what our trip might bring.
It was December 2008 and my holidays finally arrived so Rob and I left Western Australia in search of our share of Victorian gold. Upon arriving in Dunolly and armed with our new Minelab 4500 GPX detectors, we agreed to head out into the surrounding bushland just around Dunolly itself. The goldfields in Victoria are a lot different to what we were used to in Western Australia but they look great nonetheless with diggings and mullock heaps everywhere we looked.
Deciding to work the diggings before we did any real prospecting proved to be a good decision as we found a few small nuggets up to around six grams total.
Returning to our campsite late that afternoon we made plans for the next day.
The following day the weather was changing for the worst and our new 4500s got increasingly noisy due to bad atmospherics. This made things a little more difficult especially with any quiet, deep sounds, so we decided to take a break from prospecting and have a look at the local museum where there are replica nuggets on display of those that have been found on the surrounding goldfields. There was even an anvil where the largest nugget in the world, the “Welcome Stranger”, was broken up into smaller pieces and later melted down.
|Above: The anvil upon which the Welcome Stranger met its end.|
|Across the road we spotted the detector shop “Gold Search Australia”, owned by Tony Mills, who we had dealt with previously by phone. We asked Tony about different machines he had available which got us thinking about the purpose and use of each model, such as looking for gold in highly mineralised ground or discriminator machines for use in the, the junky areas.
He also talked about what he considered to be neglected gold, that is, gold found in old deep lead mines, trashy/junky areas, as well as old camp sites. Rod and I thought about this over a cuppa and then, after a lengthy discussion, we decided to buy a White’s and have a crack at some of this “forgotten gold”.
Setting out the next morning with new enthusiasm regarding what we might find, we soon arrived at an old camp site a mate had previously told us about. Rob had his Minelab 4500 and I was using the new White’s
The area had some deep lead dumps on it which were just full of rubbish so we figured that with any luck we might come across some of this “forgotten gold”. It didn’t take me very long to understand the functions and operation of the White’s and after checking some of Rob’s targets with the built-in discriminator, I soon realised the advantages of using this detector.
After about half an hour and discriminating lots of rubbish targets, I came across our first piece of forgotten gold weighing around half an ounce. I was wrapt to say the least and when I showed it to Rob he just about fell over. It was obvious the White’s detector worked because more gold nuggets kept coming out from amongst the rubbish. The feeling of finding gold so early into the trip was amazing and with each piece found we gave our mate who put us onto the spot a quiet ‘thanks mate, we owe you one’. He drinks Bourbon so it was going to be the best bottle we could lay our hands on as a way of thanks. You’d be a mongrel not to, wouldn’t you?
After a few days we had found plenty more gold with much of it fantastic looking specimens of gold in quartz. We couldn’t believe our luck and even though at the time we weren’t exactly sure how much gold we’d found, we knew it was ounces and not just grams.
Over the course of our two week holiday to the Dunolly goldfields we found a total of 34 ounces of gold including plenty of small bits that were hard pressed to register a weight on the scales. We will still use our Minelab 4500s for highly mineralised ground in the goldfields as they are great machines but the White’s has definitely found a full-time home in our prospecting kit, especially around the trashy areas