Taking a tiger by the tail is a well known saying that indicates one could be biting off more than one can chew. Well that almost seems to be the case with the Gold Exposition which will be held in Ballarat in 4 weeks time. Had we realised the work that this would entail - and the response from all over Australia - perhaps we would have re-assessed our commitment. However - we have broad shoulders - and with the dedicated staff - who tirelessly work away behind the scenes to make Gold Net Australia Online the success it is today - we will undoubtedly present to the public a fabulous Expo - that will be a giant success. Most of the "real" characters that you often read about but never actually see will be there - in person. Read all about it - in this issue
We have heard of a very large nugget that has been found in Western Australia about 2-3 weeks ago - somewhere in the vicinity of 300 plus ounces. We will try and bring more details of this fabulous find as soon as we can confirm the details. It certainly seems that the information is genuine.
We have noticed that there have been some significant gold finds in the last 2 months. Most of these we hear about but never see - for security reasons. We always try to bring details of these finds to you - but sometimes the finders are reluctant to advertise their finds - and we have seen some great photos of very large nuggets that we have been asked not to publish.
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2. FIDDLER'S CREEK
by Jim Foster
On the western edge of the famous Golden Triangle in the state of Victoria, Australia, is Percydale. Percydale it is said, is named after one of the finders of the rich goldfield there. But the original name of this pretty location, nestled on the eastern side of the Pyrenees range, was Fiddlers Creek. How it came to get that name is an interesting story.
During the wild years of gold rush after gold rush in Victoria's golden heyday the southern end of the Pyrenees was rushed several times. Each time the shallow alluvial fields were quickly worked out leaving hundreds of prospectors trying desperately to find new fields. If a couple of prospectors found a new patch of gold they tried very hard to keep it to themselves, unless it looked large enough to draw a finders reward from the government.
Two old timers, Percy and Harry, found a rich patch in a small gully that came down out of the ranges. The gold was easily won from shallow ground on the banks of the gully and washed in the water running there. The two felt the patch was only small and went to great lengths to keep their find secret. But of course they had to go to town to buy supplies every so often and paid in the only currency they had, gold.
THE SECRET IS OUT
At this time the nearby town of Avoca was going through a slump. All the known alluvial fields were worked out and some of the prospectors were getting desperate. One night a miner happened to see Percy and Harry in town buying supplies with gold. He could see their poke was fat and heavy even after paying for a months supplies. He told his mates and they set a watch on the pair of oldtimers.
Later, in the hotel, Percy became aware they were being watched. He gave Harry a nudge and told his mate what he could see. Harry gave a chuckle and glanced around as he lit his pipe. "They'll have some fun tracking us back to camp tonight, there's no moon."
Percy nodded in agreement and gave a grin in anticipation of the chase. The two had been waiting for this to happen, it was only a matter of time before they were found and the spot rushed but they were ready to try and postpone that moment as long as they could.
A leading miner of the area was Bill Black, known of course as "Black Bill." was well liked by the miners and had taken charge of the attempt to track the two oldtimers to their camp. While the two continued to sip whisky and water Bill organised men to watch every road and track out of town. He placed them in twos to enable one to continue tracking while the other alerted the rest of the men.
It was close to midnight when Percy and Harry left the hotel, hefted their heavy load of stores on their shoulders and set off. They turned south, away from their find, down the main road. "There's the first ones," Harry said with a chuckle after they'd passed two men poorly hidden under the thick branches of a wattle tree. The smell of tobacco had first alerted him, then the slight crackle of dry twigs as a man shifted his weight slightly. The two stepped out, a spring in their old legs in anticipation of the chase. If the truth be known the two had become a little bored with digging gold. They were prospectors of the old school. It was the search for gold that mattered to them, more than the finding. The finding only confirmed their skills. But a body had to live and to live one dug gold. When their patch was discovered and rushed as it would be, sooner or later, they would pack up and move on keen to see over the next ridge, keen to pan the next gully for colour. It was their way of life.
Some time later Percy muttered to Harry. "I make it about two hundred yards between them. After the next lot we'll count a hundred then turn off to the left, away from the ranges OK?" Harry nodded in the dark and soon they stepped off the track and into the bush. What the two didn't know was that there was nearly a hundred men now coming down the track behind them.
Black Bill was in the lead of the mob and as they came to each pair of watchers they gathered that pair in and continued along the track. Then they came to the two who hadn't seen the old timers pass their station. Consternation reigned. Which way had they gone? Where had they turned off the track? Quickly Bill brought order to the mob. Torches were lit and the road back-tracked but the crowd of men had destroyed any tracks the old timers might have left. Quickly Bill sorted out the best trackers into two groups and, torches sputtering sent them into the bush.
It didn't take long and the tracks were found on a sandy patch. A rest was called while the others came up. Then the tracking began in earnest. On a low rise a mile away Percy and Harry looked back to see a scattering of torches in the velvet dark of the night. "I think they mean business, all right," said harry. Percy nodded. "Time to head for the tree, I think." They had found the tree one day while out walking the ridges and spurs of the range. It sat huge and timeless on a rocky flat below the dark range. Its skeletal branches so high they seemed to rake the sky. Once, at a time long ago it had been struck by lightning. Over the decades a hollow had formed in the trees huge trunk, a hollow more than large enough for two old timers and their supplies. Percy pushed the bushes that covered the entrance aside and the two stepped into the darker gloom of the hollow tree. "Time to have snooze, I think," said Harry. Stretching out on the ground using his pack for a pillow.
They'd hardly got to sleep when their trackers stumbled onto the rocky ground and lost their tracks. Black Bill was furious. He sent men in every direction to search for tracks but at this point many of the men tired of the game and headed back to town. Dawn broke to the sound of a forest full of birds and Bill still stumbling around the hills. He was determined to find the oldtimers and intended to stay out all day to look for sign. He knew just a wisp, or smell of smoke would be enough to give away the hidden camp. Finding a high spot Bill sat alone and looked down over the spurs and flats at the base of the range. He sat there all day but could see no movement. As the shadows crept out across the flats he suddenly stiffened and sat up, his head cocked on one side in a listening attitude.
Faint on the evening breeze there came the sound of fiddles. Bill was electrified. Facing into the breeze he began to track the sound of music. It was almost full dark when he stumbled through a thick belt of scrub and into the oldtimers camp. Percy and Harry sat beside the fire their fiddles in their hands, still playing. They chuckled and continued to play as Bill dropped exhausted by the fire. Finally the tune ended and they dropped their instruments to their laps. "Looks like we'll have a mob here tomorrow," Percy observed. "Thanks to the persistence of this young fella." He stood up and poured their guest a hot cuppa from the billy.
Black Bill was amazed at how calm they were now their secret was out, but before the sun had fully bathed the ranges in its warm light the next morning, Bill had bought the old fellows claim and they had rolled their swags and set off. Even as they left their old camp they were eying the next hill with excitement. The fiddlers had left the creek but the name, Fiddlers Creek, lingered on for many years before it was called Percydale.
AVOCA AND PERCYDALE TODAY
Thousands of gold nuggets have been found in this area in the last twenty years. Gold detectors are still finding good gold there every weekend. Only recently a husband and wife team found 16 ounces of beautiful nuggets in the area. The gold producing area of the Pyrenees ranges stretches from St Arnaud in the north down sixty kilometres to Avoca in the south and attracts many hopefuls with their detectors every season. Hopefuls who dream of finding the lost reef of Stuart mill, or the lost Chinese Village near Redbank. There is plenty of accommodation at Avoca and St Arnaud, with tiny settlements such as Moonambool, Red Banks, and Stuart Mill providing more right in the goldfields.
3. THE GOLDEN HOLE
Arriving in Coolgardie from Queensland too late to participate in the alluvial gold rush six men named Mills, Elliot, Huxley, Gardiner, Dawson and Carter decided to pool their recources. They purchased a complete prospecting outfit and headed south. With no luck in that direction they returned to Coolgardie to resupply. On the return trip there was a heated argument and the men split up, planning to meet in Coolgardie, sell the equipment and return home.
Mills and his mate and left the others and began prospecting about 12 miles from Coolgardie. Depressed at the results Mills gave a quartz rock a frustrated kick and was amazed when the covering moss flew off to reveal the rich gleam of gold. Describing it in his own words Mills said, "I noticed there was a gleam where I had knocked off a bit of rock. Stooped over to squint at it. And by God, there she was! I jumped up and began smashing into the rock all around. Every lump was lousy with gold."
Differences now forgotten they dashed off to round up the other men the incredible news. Gold will turn the most exuberant of men secretive and that's what happened. Pegging their reef the men decided to work the claim secretly without registering it for fear of starting a rush.
The reef was seven to three feet wide but the gold was confined to one area of the reef. Richly seamed with gold the quartz was broken out and stored ready for later crushing. Although the men named their find Londonderry, it became known as the Golden Hole.
Well past the required ten days that was set for registering claims the men became nervous that their claim would be jumped they decided to hire an agent to do the required necessary paperwork, telling him it was "Just a bit of a show," and swore him to secrecy, but the news was soon out. When the news of the fabulous find hit the streets there was a rush that had the entire town rushing to peg a claim. Every bit of ground for miles around was soon pegged but little gold was found outside the original claim. Meanwhile 3406 ounces of gold was dug from the Golden Hole and safely transported to the Bank at Coolgardie. But despite the richness of their find and that they all stood to make a fortune, arguments soon had three of the party pulling out and selling their share to the others, a short sighted decision that was to cost them dearly.
Offers to buy the Golden Hole poured in from companies and promoters, tired of worrying about security and fending off persistent buyers the remaining three finally gave in and accepted an offer. Lord Fingall, representing a syndicate, had offered the men $360,000, an enormous sum in those days, no wonder they accepted.
To mark the mines sale a ceremony in 1894 saw the mine closed with a steel plate and a box of gold laden stone, previously broken out, sent off to London. The gold bearing quartz weighed over 10 cwt valued at the time at $24,000. The slug, "Big Ben," taken from the cap of the reef was also sent to England to show investors.
With such spectacular sales aids to fire the imagination a company was soon formed with plenty of capital to finance the development of the mine. A town sprang up on the site, the first hotel called The Londonderry was followed by more hotels and a whole street of businesses was soon doing a roaring trade to supply the many workers, teamsters, and others employed there.
Everything was going ahead at an incredible rate. The poppet head was in place and stone was being sent to the battery until 1895 then it happened, the news leaked out that the Londonderry was a "duffer". The reef pinched out at a shallow depth. The Golden Hole was just that, a glory hole. A freak of nature a pocket of gold, nothing more.
The mine limped along crushing low grade ore for several more years and did manage to return the unfortunate investors about $10,000 before the reef pinched out completely in the early 1900's
Nothing much is left to show where the richest show in Western Australia once was. It is not a good spot for nugget hunting as little alluvial gold was ever found there.
4. PROFILE - THE WATTERS FAMILY
by Brad Williams
Geoff Watters was born and educated in Melbourne and commenced employment in the Local Government field. At age 21 he was appointed Rate Collector to the then Shire of Wycheproof (Northern Victoria), in the rates office where Joy was employed.
After they married they spent the past 25 years at Vermont South an eastern suburb of Melbourne, Victoria. While there Joy established a retail curtain and soft furnishing business in 1972, a challenging, interesting and successful enterprise until it was sold in 1992.
Geoff was involved for some of those years and also gained experience in production management for the food industry and operated in an owner/driver courier business for 9 years.
Their passionate hobby during those busy years was to load their metal detectors into the car at the weekend and "go bush" - no customers, no phones, no pressure.
When their 3 sons David, Andrew & Paul, had reached adulthood they decided to move to Bendigo and establish a wholesale drapery hardware business "Trackline", servicing the curtain industry throughout country Victoria. At the same time "Pelmets Plus" was formed manufacturing padded pelmets & swags & tails for the soft furnishing trade. This new concept of a country business servicing country clients was well accepted.
They still continued to pursue the prospecting hobby and when the opportunity to become Minelab Distributors for the Bendigo area became available, "Trackline Detectors" was born. Not many have the opportunity to work in an industry where they enjoy using the products they sell in a recreational environment ? They love finding gold themselves and enjoy helping people achieve the same goal, with the help of David, their eldest son who works with Geoff and Joy.
Trackline Detectors manufactures the popular "Super Sound" signal enhancers which are sold by dealers throughout Australia & overseas.
It was not long after the formation of Trackline Detectors that it became evident that there was a need for a prospecting/metal detecting club in the Bendigo region. As interested people gave their names, David organised the initial meetings at the Welcome Stranger Motel & from these, the Bendigo Prospectors Club came into being. A club that now boasts a membership of in excess of 100 people from many states of Australia. Geoff was elected founding President and continues in this role.
During 3 prospecting trips to WA Geoff and Joy have furthered their prospecting knowledge and provided many highlights, including finding a good share of that elusive yellow metal, meeting many others with "gold fever" and sharing experiences.
They look forward to having many of you call at the showroom at 69 Phillis Street, Kangaroo Flat (Bendigo).
I am a keen prospector with 10 years experience using Minelab Metal Detectors. As my interest in Metal Detecting and gold prospecting grew I was employed by Trackline Detectors as salesperson selling metal detecting equipment. Trackline Detectors is based in Bendigo, Australia's second largest Goldfield and provides expert knowledge on the use of metal detectors, and the finding of Gold.
A few years ago I started a small prospecting tour business, Bendigo Goldfields Experiences, and this has grown to the point where I am now accommodating a number of international guests throughout the year.
The 150th anniversary of Discovery of Gold in Victoria is an exciting year for all Australians. I hope to see many of you attend the events on Bendigo's "Golden Calendar of Celebrations"
Past Committee Appointments
5. UPDATE - THE GOLD EXPO
by Brad Williams
The Australian Gold & Prospector's Expo - is getting up a head of steam.
We know people are coming from Cairns, Brisbane, Mount Isa, Sydney, Bathurst, Orange, Broken Hill, Adelaide, Port Augusta, and of course Perth. This is my no means a complete list - but it does indicate the intense interest that this Expo has generated across Australia.
Before undertaking this venture - we consulted widely with the major players throughout Australia.
In selecting the old Great Southern Woolshed at Ballarat - now the Ballarat Exhibition & Entertainment Centre, we took into account the venue itself - which lends itself well to the rural theme - coupled with good parking and internal facilities. Good food facilities and a licenced bar, which no doubt will be well used each day.
The support from companies such as Minelab and Coiltek has been fantastic, coupled with outstanding assistance from the PMAV in Victoria and APLA in Western Australia.
To give our readers a greater insight into the enormous amount of work that has gone into this Expo - we developed a strategy that gave us 3 tiers of invitations, developed from data bases. The first tier was directed at the main manufacturers of gold fossicking gear. That is the detector and sluicing manufacturers with allied and associated products were invited first - to ensure they were prominently represented. It should be noted that ALL manufacturers were invited. It was up to them to accept - if they wished.
The second tier of invitations was directed at associated industries - like those that make accessories for detectorists - private tour operators - Gold Buyers - dealers etc. Local Government Tourist Organisations - maps - navigation equipment etc.
The third tier related to camping gear, camping trailers and four wheel drive manufacturers, plus other sundry and assorted organisations etc. Which included anyone we couldn't think of to include in the first two.
Not all have responded positively. In particular the Local Government Tourist organisations don't even seem to understand that they have a Gold Tourist Industry worth promoting at all. To give just one example - the office at Avoca seems to think that 85% of tourists come to Avoca for wine. Tell that to the businesses there that sell petrol, food and accommodation to detectorists, and who will tell you that gold is the real reason that people visit Avoca.
At least I got to speak to the Tourist Promotions Officer there. On the other hand there has been in general a positive response from a broad section of the industry and we will present a reasonably well balanced cross section of the industry per se.
There will be a number of "characters" we often read about - but rarely see in person. To name a few - John Gladdis from Coiltek - Ian Aitken from Minelab - Jim Foster - from Gold Net Australia - Doug Stone from Outdoor Press - Martin Marks - with his sluices - and sundry other "characters" too numerous to mention.
Coupled with this the generous opportunity to win a GP Extreme each day - just by attending, courtesy of Minelab. Along with Coiltek giving away some outstanding coils during the Expo.
Other give aways are expected - but some of these are yet to be confirmed.
6. DON'T LOSE YOUR DETECTOR
by Jim Foster
One mild evening in early July, we left our ute parked outside our friends home in Kalgoorlie. Street lights amply lit the early evening in this quiet, average sort of street. On the back seat of our dual cab, under a blanket, dismantled and packed in a Minelab bag was our SD2100, completely out of sight and unrecognisable as a detector, in fact you would have to look hard to see anything on that seat. Not long after we arrived I went out to shift the ute around to the back yard. Imagine the sick feeling in my stomach when I found the back, drivers side window broken and that detector stolen. My rage was so great, that had I been able to find the cowardly mongrel who had stolen it, I would have beaten him to a pulp. Even now, I look very carefully at anyone with a detector, examining their machine very closely. Should I find our detector, the person holding it better have a very good, and fast explanation.
We lost that detector and don't really expect to ever find it again. It wasn't insured while in the ute and so we were out of pocket some thousands of dollars that we could ill afford. On top of that we had to pay for a new side window, plus the fitting. That cost another two hundred dollars.
How did the mongrels know there was a detector there? Well, the local copper put us right on that. On the rear window we had stickers that identified us as members of the detecting fraternity. Our number plates were out of state, further identifying us as worth more than the casual look from prowling thieves.
Since that depressing night we have heard of many others losing detectors that they worked so hard for. Detectors that as retired people, some on a pension, they may never again afford, unless they had insurance.
One couple lost two SD2200D's from their house. Another couple lost two SD2100's from their vehicle. In broad daylight, in the main street of Kalgoorlie their vehicle window was smashed and the detectors taken, in front of witnesses. Another operator lost his SD2200D from his home, along with gold coins, nuggets, and many other valuables.
How do you avoid losing your detector to low, thieving cowardly mongrels. First, strip anything that may identify your vehicle as being owned by a detectorist. Keep your vehicle clean, a dirty vehicle suggests you have just returned from a prospecting trip. Try not to leave your detectors in an attended vehicle. If you are on a trip with your gear in your car, and must do some shopping, ensure someone stays with the vehicle. Supermarket car parks are favourite places for thieves to operate. Never leave your detector in an unattended vehicle at any time, unless you have a dirty great dog in there, too.
What do you do if your do lose your detector. First you inform the police. Then ring Minelab and inform them. Should your detector ever come in for repairs, they will inform you, and the police. You then inform us, we will place the serial number and description of your detector on the Internet for all the world to see. If we can't get your detector back at least we will make life as difficult as possible for the thieves.
While you are about it, keep your eyes open for ours. It is an SD2100 with a black webbing armband over the arm rest with a longer and thicker bungy tied below the stem nut and coming up through the top of the hand grip. Its a neat looking detector and does not appear to have done much work. The serial number is: 35336
What really upsets me is that there is someone out there using our detector to find gold that might have been ours. But they won't get another of ours, we have a really nasty surprise for anyone who tries.
Don't let your detector get on our list if you can help it, Like us, do everything you can to deny the thieves another win.
|7. FLECKS ! - Glints from here and there|
WEDDERBURN GOLD FESTIVAL
9. THE NEW LODE - Next Month's Issue