We have finally entered the new Millennium. Time stands still for no one - and with the Exposition looming the staff here are rising to the occasion and all are working exceptionally hard to make this Expo a great success. The task is enormous and the hours long - but anything worthwhile does take time. It is a labour of love - as all here thoroughly enjoy the thought of making this Expo a great success - and interest has been exceptioal. From as far away as Northern Territory - North Queensland and from Western Australia - along with interest from overseas - we expect the event to be outstanding and we will work hard to achieve a first class result.
Of that you can be assured.
On the subject of gold - it would be fair to say that the price has been slowly rising for two months now on a global scale - but here in Australia as our dollar fell against the US $ our price for gold lifted substantially.
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2. TOM CUE - PROSPECTOR
by Jim Foster
Tom Cue was born in the western district town of Casterton, Victoria in 1850. One of two sons among eight girls born to Thomas George and Maria (nee Collins). Given a sound education, Tom excelled at sports and was a well set up young man. Working for a time at his fathers general store T.G. Cue and Company, Tom soon decided being a counter jumper did not suit him and he left looking for adventure. Tom worked for a short time at Castlemaine in a Saw Pit, then on the opal fields of South Australia. By the early 1990's Tom was on the rich Western Australian goldfields and doing well. He was involved in many of the better gold finds and in 1892 the town of Cue was named after him. He was soon very well off and always stayed in the better hotels when in town. His prospecting outfit was of the best equipment and his trap could often be seen loaded high with provisions and mining equipment making its way to the latest strike.
In the late 1890's the Murchison district was largely unexplored. It was a dangerous desert wilderness where water was so scarce it often cost more than gold. Many men perished of thirst or were killed by the hostile natives of the area. It took a tough man just to survive there, to survive and prosper was an achievement indeed.
In 1895 Tome Cue made his richest find at what was to become the town of Agnew, ten kilometres north of Lawlers. Naming his gold mine The Woronga , he then took on two further leases and the area became known as Cue's Patch, (referring to the rich patch of shallow alluvial gold there) a name that was to stick until the Post Master General pointed out that there was already a town named after Tom and there couldn't be two towns in W.A. named after the same man. Cues Patch eventually became known as Agnew.
Tom stayed on at the Woronga for about eighteen months at the end of which time he was awarded a Finders Reward of one hundred pounds for the finding of the Cue goldfield. Selling his claims, Tom said he was tired of prospecting and was reported to have said. "Give me 300 pound a year, a horse, a gun and a fishing rod in Gippsland and I could ask for nothing more."
Tom then spent a year in Queensland at Cloncurry and Chillagoe before returning to Victoria in early 1900. But unable to settle down he became involved in an expedition up the Amazon River travelling to London to help organise and finance the trip.
Even in his sixties he remained restless, journeying through the inhospitable wilderness of the Yukon to search for gold. On the fourth of September 1920 he died in Vancouver, British Columbia at the age of seventy.
Even today there is not a lot known about Tom Cue. In 1894 the Murchison Times described him as a fine burly fellow nearly six foot tall. The only known picture of Tom came when in 1991 a couple were fossicking for gold near Cue and found a metal printers plate with an illustration of Tom filling his pipe.
While almost unknown in his home state, Tom Cue is one of the legendary figures of the Western Australian Goldfields and particularly in the Murchison district. His name is as well known as Paddy Hannan who found Kalgoorlie, and Arthur Bailey and William Ford of Coolgardie fame.
3. SELLING YOUR GOLD
When showing someone outside our gold seeking fraternity a gold nugget, I know the first question will be, "How much is it worth?" Followed closely by, "Where do you sell your gold?" I guess that is to be expected when I often ask myself similar questions.
For many years I never sold very much gold, for a start I didn't have much. I could pick out a nugget from my meagre hoard and know exactly where and when I'd found it, even if it had been ten years before. I just didn't want to part with them. But then I reasoned my hobby had to pay for itself. When Minelab bought out the GoldSeeker 15000 back in 1985 or thereabouts, I sold my first parcel of gold to buy one, the first detector I had bought since my old Garrett in 1979. That first sale was a bit of a disaster. I sold my gold to a firm in Melbourne who paid a very low price compared to the spot price of the day, but it was sufficient to get me a new detector. What I had done was take the easy route, without shopping around. I'd sold to the first company I found who would take our gold, and sold it to them at their price.
A gold nugget is a thing of beauty. It is unique, and by world standards, very rare. There are far more gem quality diamonds mined every year around the world than there are gold nuggets of any description. Why then are we not paid more for gold nuggets? This is a question I find hard to answer. I guess it is because nuggets are not yet seen as being all that rare, and as a result not so valuable, even though each and every nugget is unique and has a story to tell.
But until this problem is rectified you will have to decide what you want to do. You can sell to a refinery such as the Perth Mint, or to those you find advertised in magazines such as the Australian Gold Gem And Treasure. If you sell to them you can usually expect one of two things. They will offer you an over the counter price for your gold that will be considerably lower than bullion value. Or they will take your gold, refine it down to 99.99% bullion and pay you according to the spot bullion price of the day, less a percentage that is usually somewhere between ten and twenty percent. You will also be required to pay a refining fee. This depends on the size of the parcel but usually around a hundred dollars for up to ten ounces. These prices are usually fair enough, as the company has to make a profit too, but not all refineries pay the same, or charge the same, it is up to you to shop around.
You should also recognise that not all gold nuggets contain the same percentage of gold. It is generally recognised that most Victorian gold is somewhere above ninety five percent pure gold, with some as high as ninety nine percent. On the other hand Western Australian nuggets seldom contain more than ninety five percent gold, and often much lower. Gold from other states also vary in a similar fashion. These percentages are only of concern if the gold is to be, "on sold" by the buyer as bullion. Jewellery quality nuggets are another thing altogether.
It is my contention that most gold nuggets up to at least half an ounce are of jewellery quality, that is, they can be made into one form of natural gold nugget jewellery or another. Not every buyer will agree with me, but mine is a personal opinion.
Tiny flakes of gold such as those common on many goldfields, especially Tibooburra, are often used in clear plastic pendants. It matters not at all the gold content of these tiny nuggets. They are still unique and usually at least 22 karat. When selling these to a buyer who is going to make them into jewellery you should be able to get bullion value.
Slightly larger flat nuggets can be used for making into ear rings. They are simply cleaned and polished then mounted on gold posts. They also should fetch bullion value. In fact, many small nuggets are sold for very high prices simply displayed in a plastic container. I recently saw a number of these for sale in the Adelaide museum at prices that equated to forty five dollars a gram. I wonder how much they paid the finder.
Larger nuggets for pendants, tie pins, brooches, etc, must be of what is termed jewellery quality. That is, they must be pretty - of a nice shape. A nugget that can easily be identified as resembling an animal, bird, or even the shape of a country, are more valuable, you should hold out for a price higher than bullion for them. I have a filigree nugget of about six grams that is easily recognised as the United Kingdom, I would ask at least 50% above bullion value for that one as I know it would readily sell as a pendant at a very good price.
Nuggets too big for jewellery, but not large enough to attract a big price for their rarity usually must be sold to a refinery. Only a very small proportion of these can be sold as keepsakes, and then only if they are an attractive piece.
Crystal gold can bring very high prices but these are a matter of negotiation as these nuggets can vary widely as to how pronounced the crystals may be, or how worn. Easily discerned crystals bring the best price.
Gold in Quartz specimens have always been hard to sell. The refineries will take them, but usually you have to pay for the crushing etc,. and you finish up with a very low price per gram. You can dolly them yourself to recover the gold, but this is often very hard to do. You need the right equipment and knowledge otherwise you will lose a big portion of the gold. I tried it once, much of the fine gold is still in a bucket in my shed attached to the crushed quartz. A lot more is in two film containers mixed with black sand. I gave up and left them as the whole thing was too much trouble.
Now we sell our specimens through a dealer in Ballarat, he markets them to his buyers in the States. The last time we sold this way we were very pleased with the price, and the brokerage was very reasonable.
Another way to sell your nuggets, or specimens, is on the Internet auctions. I must confess we haven't tried this way of selling yet but have heard very good reports on it.
Most buyers of gold nuggets will offer you different prices for different nuggets. In a parcel containing say 5oz made up of a hundred nuggets or so, he will pick out the ones he can sell as jewellery and offer you a price on those. Even some of these will differ in price. After he has picked the ones he needs, he may offer you a price for the rest at bullion price less around 10%, depending on how clean the nuggets are, and where they have come from. This will usually be a fair price as he has to make a living, too. Some of the nuggets may bring well above bullion price, while some will be below. But remember this; you are being paid for the gold with all its impurities and being charged no refining fees. In other words, if you can sell a parcel and you average bullion price, you are way ahead of what you would get from a refinery. While I believe these prices to be fair with the market the way it is, I believe gold nuggets of jewellery quality should sell for what they are worth, and that is a great deal more than we are getting now.
It is up to everyone in the market to work toward higher prices for our nuggets. The world must be made aware of the rarity and beauty of our gold nuggets, and pay a fair price for them.
4. PROFILE - BARRIE JOHNSON
by Barrie Johnson
Barrie Johnson Detector Service started in Wedderburn at the same time Minelab bought out their first detector in 1986.
Our business is situated in the Victorian Golden Triangle which is the source of 85% of the largest nuggets ever discovered in the world. Within 20 km of the business the Welcome Stranger was discovered by Deason & Oates, at over 3,000 ounces, it is the largest gold nugget ever found. This century Kevin Hillier discovered the "Hand of Faith", at Kingower, which at 700 ounces is the largest nugget found with a detector. Kingower is less than 30km from the business.
And of course many thousands of ounces of other nuggets have been taken out in this area. This gives us the huge advantage that unlike city based stores you can purchase a detector and literally walk out the door and start detecting in some of the best gold fields in Australia. If you are unlucky enough to have a technical problem with your equipment our large electronic repair section can fix it on the spot.
My background is 46 years in the electronics sales, research and manufacturing industry. This includes 14 years as senior technical officer in a research position at the university of Melbourne. A 1982 Churchill Fellowship in electronics and many years designing and manufacturing electronic equipment.
My son Rowan, who is a partner in the business also has qualifications which will increase as the years pass. The aim of our business philosophy is simple. We guarantee never to be beaten on any genuine offer relative to gold and metal detecting equipment sold in Australia or overseas. We supply in depth technical support on all products sold, have a 24 hour phone enquiry service (guaranteed ring back within 24 hours is message bank on) and run free field trips into the gold fields every month. These trips are an intensive learning exercise where you are seated in the gold fields and we cover everything from mining laws, geology, detector care, detector use and all the tricks associated with successful detecting.
We cross compare various brands of detectors and you are welcome to bring along your pet detector for a comparison. You will also meet about 20 - 40 people on these trips with the same interests as yourself. Remember these trips are free and anybody is welcome. You don't have to have purchased anything from us to come along, just ring for times.
Modifications & Detector Accessories.
We are Australia's leading firm for detector performance modifications. In fact it is flattering to see how many firms attempt with various success rates to copy our detector performance modifications. Our modifications cover the whole range of Minelab equipment and we also have modifications for most other brands.
We also manufacture a range of accessories under the Nugget Finders name. Our Nugget Finder signal conditioner for the SD series of Minelab detectors is the most technically advanced in the market place. Our Porta Pak is another product that is unique. It enables you to do away with the heavy back pack on the SD series and all the interconnecting cords. For a brochure on our complete range of detector modifications and accessories - just ring, write or email.
Our range of maps, books etc. is very comprehensive. We publish a book called - "So you want to find gold", which is a collection of many technical articles I write for various magazines such as "Gold Gem & Treasure&. It also has State Mining Regulations included and is reasonably priced at $12.00.
This book is free with any detector purchase.
5. A POMMY DOWN UNDER
by Fred Johnston
Having read many a story of the gold nuggets to be found in Australia I finally decided to make the effort and travel to the land down under for a holiday. But before I booked my ticket I did my homework via the Internet. I fairly drooled over the pictures in the Gold-net magazine, not to mention all those wonderful sites I found linked to it. I visited every Australian link and was amazed at the amount of gold being found and offered for sale via the Internet. And every one of those sites was world class.
After seeking advice from many people in Australia on the Internet I decided to opt for a holiday in the Victorian Golden Triangle area. The reasons for this were; I was taking my holidays during our winter. If you have ever spent a winter in England you will know why I wanted to get away. Snow, ice, sleet, black ice, and sludge, not to mention flu, colds, and sunlight deprivation. From my research I found it was a bit hot in Western Australia, NSW, and Queensland, during our winter/your summer with temperatures up to fifty degrees Celsius.
On the first of February I lifted off from Heathrow a snowball throw ahead of a another blizzard coming in off the North Sea. Landing in Melbourne I picked up my rented Britz Campervan
and headed for the goldfields. Hardly had I got settled into driving the camper than I was suddenly in the countryside, I could hardly believe Melbourne was so small, it wasn't until I looked at the map again and found I was already outside the city, at the airport. I didn't even have to drive in a city, just took the road to Ballarat.
Arriving at Ballarat I found it easy to navigate the wide, straight streets, so unlike our crowded, twisting, narrow streets at home. Finding a caravan park, I did some shopping, and had an early night. I was suffering a bit of jet lag but still couldn't get over the prices of everything, they were so cheap I thought they were giving it away. Fuel was about half the price at home, while steak was so cheap I laughed all the way out the supermarket door, carrying about ten kilos of the stuff.
Next day I spent at Sovereign Hill and the Gold Museum. Sovereign Hill was incredible! I could easily have spent the entire day there but needed to see what real gold nuggets looked like. In the Museum the nuggets took my breath away. Nuggets from all over Victoria were on show, from the tiniest flakes to lumps weighing kilos. There were other displays there, but apart from the coin section I had no time to inspect them.
Up and gone at the crack of dawn I soon found myself in the centre of the Golden Triangle. Buying a brand new Minelab SD2200D, maps, diggers, and all the other stuff I found I needed to find gold, I headed out to the goldfields. Not that I needed to go far, the goldfields began on the edge of town. Heading down a bush track I soon found a likely site. Old campfires told me I was on the spot I had been directed to and old diggings indicated gold had been found here before.
My new detector had been assembled for me and I'd already been instructed in its use on a trial patch the fellow from whom I bought had for this purpose. It is a very easy detector to use and it wasn't long and I had a good signal. Digging down several inches I soon had the target out, but took a while to isolate it from the dirt. Cleaning the clay from it I was disappointed to find it was only a small lead bullet. Searching all that day I found a few good targets but none of them were gold. Calling it quits, I sat outside in the fading evening light and enjoyed a cold beer.
The day had been warm, 28 degrees I heard on the radio. About 28 degrees above what it would be at home. Watching the sunset until the mosquitoes drove me inside I cooked one of those fantastic T-bone steaks. It was huge, and it melted in my mouth. Still tired from the trip I went to bed early. Before dropping off to sleep I did some mental arithmetic to work out how much I had spent on detecting equipment. With the British pound so strong I was getting nearly three dollars for every pound, knocking the value of the SD down by nearly two thirds. There are times when it pays to be a bloody Pommy.
Dawn came and with it the dawn chorus. I lay there and listened to the wonderful sound of so many birds filling the sweet air until a dirty great flock of big white birds came along and nearly deafened me. That got me out of bed.
All that day, and the next I searched without reward. I was beginning to think I had been sucked into a huge Aussie con, when, just as I was heading back to camp, I got a faint signal on the side of an old mullock heap. The digging wasn't easy, but five minutes later I had my first gold nugget. I gave out a whoop that scared the birds from the trees. Popping it into my mouth to clean it, I gave it a quick clean then spat it out to have another look. Elated, I searched the area hard and found another nugget, just under the surface, this one was smaller, but much brighter. It was getting dark, so I headed back to camp. Cleaning the nuggets with water and my toothbrush I was astounded at their beauty. They glowed all over and looked absolutely wonderful. Hoping these were only the first of many I decided one would make a nice pendant for my Mum, the other would go to my girlfriend, she may even forgive me for going off on holiday without her.
Next morning I returned to the same spot but could only find one more nugget. This was about the same size as the first one, about 4 grams. But I was happy as the proverbial pig. A week later I hadn't found another nugget and was as grumpy as a bear.
It was then I decided I needed to take a break. Heading into Bendigo I toured this lovely provincial city. I went down the tourist mine. Rode in the talking trams, visited the Chinese Museum and had a few beers in the most famous hotel in the town, the Shamrock Hotel. While there I talked to many people about prospecting and was directed to the Whipstick Forest. This place in one of the most unusual places I have ever been. Touring the National Park section I then left that section and made for the spot I had been told about. I knew that no one was going to tell where to find a really good spot, that would be silly of them. But any spot is a good one to start from.
It was next day. The temperature had climbed to around thirty five degrees Celsius by lunchtime. With a top of forty predicted for the day I intended to quit early and head for the airconditioned comfort of a pub for the afternoon. Not more than a hundred metres from where I parked the camper I got a signal that sounded like hot ground. It was wide and soft, but didn't go away when I scraped the ground. In fact it seemed a little louder. It was the only signal I'd got that day so I was going to dig it. The signal was in the head of a shallow gully, it seemed the winter rains had eroded the head of the gully back a few more metres bringing the target into range of the coil. Half an hour later and a foot and a half deep I found the target. I had been convinced it would be an old tin can, like the one I got over a foot deep near Kingower a few days earlier, but it wasn't. I held my breath as I pulled it from the hole. Then I saw the glint of gold and my heart contracted. It couldn't be! But it was gold all right, seven ounces of it. It seemed to weigh much more but that's what it went on the supermarket scales, two hundred and eighteen grams when cleaned.
By the end of my month in Victoria's Golden Triangle I had found twenty three gold nuggets weighing a total of ten ounces. Not a fortune, not even enough to pay for my holiday. But what a holiday! It was a time I will never forget. I met the most friendly of people. Saw some incredible sights in a land so different to anything I had imagined, even after all my research. And so cheap! I could hardly believe how little money I spent for what I got. But then it was time to head for home. The last morning in the bush I lay in bed and listened to the sounds of the bush and knew I would be back next year for sure.
6. FEEL THE EARTH MOVE AT KALGOORLIE
by Sue "Goldie" Reynolds
Every day at five in the afternoon residents of Kalgoorlie feel the earth move beneath their feet. Not an earthquake, just the Super Pit carrying out daily blasting operations. Already a huge hole in the ground the Super Pit will eventually measure five kilometres long, by two kilometres wide and three hundred metres deep. Known as the Golden Mile this stretch of land is regarded as the richest square mile of gold country in the world.
In 1989 all of the mines dotting this gold saturated area of land (originally a long, low hill) was amalgamated into one huge operation that resulted in the development of the Super Pit. The public can view this yawning chasm from the Super Pit lookout at the southern end of the pit.
When Paddy Hannan found gold at what was first called Hannan's then Kalgoorlie he could never imagine what his find would turn into. While his gold strike made Paddy, and many others, rich men the Golden Mile would eventually produce more gold than many nations could ever hope to own. Night and day the mine operation continues to enlarge the incredible hole on the edge of the city. At each shift change a good percentage of the local population either returns home or resumes work for another day. Without gold Kalgoorlie would cease to exist as a viable city and centre for the eastern goldfields.
Kalgoorlie-Boulder has a population of about thirty three thousand people, similar to that at around the turn of the century when the great gold rush of the nineteen nineties was in full swing. Kalgoorlie-Boulder is one of the largest cities in Western Australia outside of the capital, Perth. It is a modern city with all the amenities one expects in todays modern world, but it still retains some of the atmosphere and excitement of the original frontier town it was last century. Each winter thousands of people from the eastern states head for the golden west. Resting up for a few days after the three or four day drive it has taken them to get there the Easterners then purchase last minute supplies of food and water before disappearing into the wilderness for the next three or four months. A good sealed road leads north from Kalgoorlie into the heart of the eastern goldfields. Many Easterners will pause at Leonora, two hundred and thirty kilometres up the road, and begin their prospecting. Some stay at the caravan park but most head out into the bush and make camp on secret, favourite spots that have yielded gold to them, and their friends on other years.
Others will journey further out, a few even as far north as Marble Bar, the hottest town Australia. But many favour Laverton one hundred and twenty four kilometres to the east of Leonora, or north west to Nannine, Meekatharra, and Cue. At the end of winter, when the weather becomes too warm for comfort, many Easterners will head back down to Kalgoorlie, to rest up in civilisation and sell their gold before heading east and home again for the summer.
As a base for holidaying Easterners Kalgoorlie-Boulder is ideal, but many people, in the rush to get on the goldfields further north, never spend enough time in the city and close-by country to fully appreciate what the city has to offer.
Kalgoorlie-Boulder has several good caravan parks as well as many hotels and motels from the budget, to 4 star quality. Good goldfields still producing gold nuggets begin almost right on the edge of town. Look at any map of the area and you will see places such as Kanowna, Lakewood, Mungari, Kununalling, and Broad Arrow, only a few minutes drive out of town.
There are scores more of these places within an hour or so's drive from the centre of Kalgoorlie. This means that you can camp in town with all the comforts of home and drive out each day to look for gold, but don't neglect the city itself. Just walking the main street, Hannan Street is a lesson in architecture from the turn of the century onwards. The Museum of the Goldfields is a good place to start. Towering over the Museum is a high poppet head, a relic from a nearby abandoned gold mine. Inside you will find the British Arms Hotel, said to be the narrowest hotel in the Southern Hemisphere. It has no beer and is just one of the many displays that will help you spend an interesting and pleasant hour or two.
Hannan's North Tourist Mine is another Must See for any visitor. Out on the edge of town this mine stands on rich ground. A nice gold nugget was detected here just recently when alterations to the grounds were being undertaken. Just along the street from the Goldfields Museum is Paddy Hannan's Tree. The Aboriginal Art Gallery, and further out, the world famous Two Up School where you can have a bet or two on the flying pennies, a traditional Aussie way of gambling. A good way to see the heart of the Golden Mile mining area is to take the twelve kilometre train ride from Boulder Railway Station as it loops around and through the workings of Australia's largest gold mining centre.
Night time entertainment is plentiful with good nightclubs, hotels with floor shows and bands, through to the cinema complex.
|7. FLECKS ! - Glints from here and there
It had been brought to our notice that in recent months there has been a substantial rise in the theft of gold fossicking gear - including some expensive detectors - and a substantial amount of gold and other paraphenalia.
To assist in reducing thefts and hopefully recovering some of this stolen property - we are dedicating a specific area within the Gold Net site - which will list some of the stolen property - along with general details - and if possible identifying markings.
Sorry - no photos were available for this months edition
9. THE NEW LODE - Next Month's Issue