A new guide for prospectors has just been released, full of tips and tricks for anyone interested in having some fossicking fun.
Victoria’s gold story is an enduring one and the first gold prospectors who arrived on our goldfields from afar are still providing inspiration for commercial and recreational explorers alike today.
Gold was first discovered in Victoria near Clunes, around 150 kilometres north-west of Melbourne, in 1850. Following further discoveries, the state government of the day incentivised finding more gold in 1851 and the gold rush began.
The world is a different place now compared to 1851. However, some things do remain the same when it comes to gold–its value across the world is undiminished, hovering in excess of $2,000 AUD an ounce and its lustre and luminosity capture people’s interest and imagination like few other substances.
Another constant is the need for a miner’s right - it was a legal requirement back in those gold rush days and it’s still true for those wanting to visit regional Victoria to prospect for gold today. A miners right allows you to remove and keep minerals discovered on Crown Land, your own land or private land. Sales of miner’s rights are on the rise with over 50,000 adults permitted to prospect recreationally in Victoria each year.
In response to the rise in interest, Earth Resources Regulation has launched a new Recreational Prospecting Guide to provide handy tips to new fossickers and hobby prospectors. It explains where you can prospect, what equipment to use and how to make sure you are doing the right thing.
Gold stories from yesteryear are the stuff of legend such as the finding of the 66 kilogram Welcome Stranger nugget in 1869 near Moliagul in central Victoria. It remains the largest gold nugget ever found. But valuable discoveries still occur, such as on 12 May 2019. A nugget worth almost $35,000 was found north of Bendigo by a family out for a walk near one of the many creeks that have been a regular source of gold in the area.
An organisation that dates back to the gold rush era has estimated that Victoria is likely to still hold around as much undiscovered gold as that found over the last 170 years. The Geological Survey of Victoria, part of the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, estimates there may be up to 75 million ounces of gold yet to be discovered across the state.
Director of the Geological Survey of Victoria, Paul McDonald, says that while much of the undiscovered gold might be out of reach for those with basic tools permitted through a miner’s right, the logic and know-how of the early gold prospectors remains a great pointer for both professional and amateur prospectors.
“The principles early prospectors used to find alluvial gold around existing and ancient waterways still stand up today,” Paul said.
“The areas where gold has traditionally been found in Victoria is a great place to start for fossickers. Just because areas in the north-east of the state or Gippsland don’t have the commercial production figures of the area between Bendigo, Ballarat and Stawell, they still might be worth a visit for amateur gold hunters.”
“Modern day commercial explorers are retracing the steps of the pioneers but using better intelligence, thanks to our geologists, and better equipment. Promising results from current explorers demonstrates just how close 19th century explorers were to finding their fortune.”
Maybe it’s time to visit regional Victoria and get the new Recreational Prospecting Guide – the information could be worth its weight in gold.