There’s still gold in them thar hills BY Marc and Andrew

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How about that then: man finds 2kg-plus gold nugget; woman finds 1 kg-plus nugget; child finds little nuggets all over. Hmm…

Living amid the surrounds of some great gold country, we know the Great Australian Gold Rush began pretty much right here, and for many hobby and professional prospectors alike, that gold rush hasn’t ended yet, as evidenced by some of the reports popping up in the news.

In a short period of time, the two of us have come to an agreement about doing some prospecting, and as Marc has had more experience than Andrew, you can bet that a certain amount of education is going to be had, and a few false trails are going to be explored. Eventually though, we do hope to produce a little of the precious metal.

Marc has a miners license, which means he can do a little more than the average Andrew who is limited to panning and metal detecting, and if we get to that ‘little more’ place, our efforts may produce a few dollars worth of gleam. But first a quick course in surface exploration to test an area before expending effort.

We start off with panning and the things to watch our for when assaying a creek are the bends in the banks, bedrock at various sections, and any swatches or drifts of dark sand gathered beneath the waters. The semi-pro points things out to the am and soon we’re treading our way along the bank, across the river rocks, and into various depressions in the bed.

A few scoops of the creek’s base goes into the pans and the am gets some pointers on how to swirl the conglomeration about to get the bigger stuff off to the top, and the heavier stuff to the bottom, and washing this pan-fill in the flow of the creek to slowly but surely have a silty mix to scrutinise.

It is a delicate action that is repeated and repeated until a few spoons-full of fine material rest on the bottom of the pan, and the gentle lap of water moves those grains about, shifting from the lower pan-side to the upper, all because of the tilt of it. If you’re lucky, a few specks of gold might appear, otherwise you begin the cycle again.

We try a few locations, with the last one the site the semi-pro firstly identified as having the dark sand to it, so if there is gold in here, we would have the best luck here. The am was glad to have had a couple of hours practise beforehand, and is quite confident that no small nuggets or golden specks will be accidentally lost.

During the next 2 hours, we gather together some 15 specks of gold and far from being anticlimactic, it is quite a small thrill for the am, and a bit of a chuckle for the semi-pro. You see, one has never found gold before despite his attempts, and the other has seen small nuggets but can certainly remember those first few specks that eventually lead to those nuggets. And both know that there is still gold in them thar hills.

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