Gold - The Detector Rush

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Terry
Posts: 2746
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 6:53 pm

Gold - The Detector Rush

Post by Terry » Sun Sep 29, 2013 4:04 pm

GOLD – THE DETECTOR RUSH

I’d only been back from Coober Pedy for three or four years when the lure of the outback caught up with me again. This saw my brother Micheal and I doing a short stint old fashioned gold mining. We were out on Edjudina at a place called Yarrie and were crushing through the Yarrie State Battery. In those days they used to run two shifts, the regular crew worked the dayshift while the prospectors could work the afternoon shift. This meant the prospector was earning a wage as well as, (hopefully) making a few bob out of his crushing.
It was while I was there that I first became aware of people looking for gold with a metal detector. An old chap was trying his luck with an old world war-2 mine detector, but not having any success in the heavily mineralized soils of the Goldfields. Poor old Kingie was the butt of a fair bit of friendly ribbing, but little did we know that within a few short years fortunes would be found with new generation detectors. Being married by now and having two small children I had then reluctantly returned to a mundane city lifestyle.

A couple of years later I heard a whisper that a couple of blokes were finding good nuggets with a new type of metal detector. A friend of mine had given me the nod, as it was all a bit hush hush at that time.
For ever the optimist I just had to give it a go and talked my brother-in-law John in coming up with me. With a bit of luck we managed to get a couple of Detectors (They were in short supply at that time). The plan was that we would give it a couple of weeks to see if we thought it was worth persevering with. But first we had two day trip up to a place called Quins to get some idea of what it was all about. While there we met an Aboriginal Woman who was specking and who showed us several nice nuggets that she had just picked up. She then told us if we wanted to find good gold we should head up to Hoot-an-noo-ie out near the Mulga Queen.

We travelled up via a couple of places I was familiar with from my early mining days and we picked up odd nuggets wherever we went, including a 5oz piece that john spotted sticking out of the centre rut of an old long abandoned track. Most of the fields then had been abandoned for fifty years or more, all the tracks were overgrown and had disappeared for long stretches and not a soul had been anywhere near the places we went to. As far as using a metal detector it was all virgin and much of the gold we found was lying on the surface. We ended up with 22 oz’s on that first trip (mid seventies) as green as we were and I was hooked for life.

The lifestyle really suited me, along with peace of the outback there was the excitement of it all particularly in those early days. We would do trips of three weeks duration and then head back to our families for a couple of weeks, if the returns hadn’t been so good I doubt our wives would have put up with it, although I was blessed with having a very understanding wife. As the years rolled on Valma and the children would spend all the school holidays up bush with me and loved it. In later years Valma prospected full time with me for about ten years and was really good at it.

After the first few years I cut back to doing two or three trips a year as the kids grew up, but when the new Minelab Detectors arrived in the nineties I went back to full time prospecting. As mentioned it was about this time when Valma started working full time with me. These were undoubtedly the most enjoyable years of my prospecting life.

Because of a couple of minor health issues this has been the first time in nearly 40 years that I haven’t been out bush; oh well there’s always next year.

© T.E. Piggott

Heather

Re: Gold - The Detector Rush

Post by Heather » Mon Sep 30, 2013 11:01 pm

You have some great memories to look back on Terry - lucky you. Something to look forward to next year Terry .... :)

Terry
Posts: 2746
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 6:53 pm

Re: Gold - The Detector Rush

Post by Terry » Tue Oct 01, 2013 2:23 pm

Hi Matt & Heather
There are probably a thousand stories I could tell (if I could only remember them all) about those times, each day was more or less an adventure in its self, the people you met, the memorable places you stumbled across and of course the gold we found.
It really was a new rush and we were among the first to become involved. During the first few years we rarely saw another prospector and were the first to rediscover many of the old diggings we visited. In those early days we just worked around and out from where the old blokes had scratched about, if we saw someone else had had a go before us, we usually moved on.
A lot of the old timers who’d hung on were still around, usually in the vicinity of where a state Battery was still operating, but very few had a go at detecting, preferring to stick to the old ways, especially in the early years.
Strangely enough it’s not the gold (and we found our share) that hold the fondest memories for me; its more the lifestyle and the feel of that country with places like Eucalyptus, which is like an oasis with its groves of gimlet and huge river gums surrounded by bits of break-a–way, it was an idea spot to camp in the summer months. Or the feeling I always get when I’m getting close to Cripple Creek on the Ashburton; there’s many other places as well, hard to explain in a way that makes any sense I suppose.
There was always excitement when coming into new country for the first time as well, a sort of heightened expectation I guess. To many it probably seems as though I’ve wasted a lot of my life in the middle of nowhere – but I wouldn’t change it for quids.

Terry

Heather

Re: Gold - The Detector Rush

Post by Heather » Tue Oct 01, 2013 3:41 pm

Something that makes you that contented can never be a waste of time Terry. As a child and teenager I did a lot of camping with my family in remote and beautiful places. I can recall the anticipation of exploring a new place or if it was somewhere I'd been before - rediscovering the place again - especially the place we went from when I was 10 to 17 at a remote bay. I have some very fond memories of campfires and the sound of the flute wafting through the night sky in the bush. It was those experiences as a child that gave me the love I have for the bush and our native flora and fauna to this day.

I was watching a program recently on the continents and the compare gave an explanation of how opals are formed. Pretty amazing that they exist really isn't it?

Terry
Posts: 2746
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 6:53 pm

Re: Gold - The Detector Rush

Post by Terry » Mon Oct 14, 2013 1:16 pm

Hi Heather,
Yes the formation of precious opal is quite remarkable, Common opal or opalite is found in large quantities especially over this way.
But precious opal is vary rare with only a few notable deposits throughout the world.
To see it glowing with its multitude of colours in the face of miners drive is in my opinion, one of the more beautiful sight you'll ever see.

Gold has a similar effect on some people, I've seen tough looking blokes trembling with excitement after digging out a decent nugget.

Cheers Terry

Heather

Re: Gold - The Detector Rush

Post by Heather » Mon Oct 14, 2013 7:27 pm

It sounds divine Terry. :) where else in the world is opal found and is it like Australian opal?

I had the chance to hold two very peerty gold nuggets a little while back - noice, very, very nice - the colour was what got me - and how heavy it was! Yeah, I reckon I could get excited about looking for and finding it. :)

Terry
Posts: 2746
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 6:53 pm

Re: Gold - The Detector Rush

Post by Terry » Mon Oct 14, 2013 8:55 pm

Hi Heather,
Brazil has produces some very nice Opal, it often comes in nodules. I cut quite a bit of it years ago, they produce white and crystal opal and also a type of semi-balck opal as well.
It is said that it was found in what is now Hungry back in the Roman days, Mark Anthony was said to have given Cleopatra an opal which was considered the rarest of precious stones at that time but that opal is quite inferior to Australian opal.
There is also Mexican Fire Opal that has it's share of devotes but is very prone to cracking; mind you so does some Australian opal.
There are other minor occurrences throughout the world but Australia produces about 95% of the worlds opal. (or did)
Most of the opal is formed in sedimentary formations but there are some that are found in volcanic formations probably through secondary action of some sort, there has been a couple of those over here at Coolgardie and Karonie which produced wonderful crystal opal some of which adhered to a black rock giving the appearance of black opal, I also cut some of that as well.

As for gold Heather there are plenty of women who search for it and very successfully as well, better get yourself a detector girl and start swinging; like so many others you just might love it and the lifestyle that goes with it.

Cheers Terry
Last edited by Terry on Mon Oct 14, 2013 9:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Heather

Re: Gold - The Detector Rush

Post by Heather » Mon Oct 14, 2013 9:02 pm

I'm coming to see your opal collection Terry. :D

Yep, get a detector and find my lost engagement ring (and hock it! :lol: )

Vic Jefferies
Posts: 1041
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 8:21 am

Re: Gold - The Detector Rush

Post by Vic Jefferies » Tue Oct 15, 2013 4:36 pm

Good On You Terry. Enjoyed your story very much. I have just finished reading The History of the Australian Gold Rushes edited by Nancy Keesing and thoroughly recommend it to you. Probably out of print now but should be available through your local library or possibly on the net. The book is comprised of short mainly first hand accounts and contains a wealth of historical information.

Terry
Posts: 2746
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 6:53 pm

Re: Gold - The Detector Rush

Post by Terry » Tue Oct 15, 2013 9:19 pm

Hi Vic glad you enjoyed the yarn mate,
Must see if I can find that book, I have read a lot about those times being a keen follower of early Australian history, but I’m always keen to look up anything I haven’t read before.
An interesting thing about wandering in the footsteps of those old blokes; talk to a lot of to-days prospectors and they’ll tell you that there are times you’d swear that you can still sense their presence, as crazy as that might sound. I wrote a poem about it awhile back called ‘Walking With Ghosts’; it’ on the forum somewhere from about two years ago.

Cheers Terry

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