Jump to content
Website Rollback - Latest Updates ×

Steve's 2011 Australia Gold Adventure

Recommended Posts

Wild Goats Seen In Old Mining Pit

I have a tendency when detecting to want to "go big". My thought process on this adventure was that we were going to be spending a lot of time on known patches. That is great as it is almost a promise of gold. However, I was very doubtful that multi-ounce nuggets would be found in ground that has seen a lot of searchcoils. The reality unfortunately is the big ones are usually easy to find. You rarely need a super detector, you just need to be first over the nugget with your coil.

That being the case, I made time almost every day to wander off on my own. If JP took us to a new location, I would hit it quickly in a cherry picking fashion. After about an hour though I would just wander off in a large loop intended to eventually bring me back to our location for lunch with Chris and JP. We would compare notes, and depending on what happened in the morning, an afternoon game plan developed. I very often would wander off on another walk about. My Rino GPS was a huge aid in doing this. The terrain was often hilly with scattered bushes that made it easy to get turned around when detecting for hours without paying diligent attention to my whereabouts. On at least one occasion I found myself looking at the GPS and not believing that it insisted I was heading in exactly the opposite direction than I thought I was.

Lots Of Country To Get Lost In!

My goal was to find some small patch or large nugget off the main diggings. It also just love wandering and exploring and so this type of detecting works for me whether I find gold or not. I always made sure to hit the main area again at the end of the day which usually meant gold found on most days.

This go for the proven locations but also try new locations strategy was also something we worked into our overall game plan for the trip. Jonathan's friends had arranged access to a private lease that had seen few if any detectors, and which had at least some decent geology going for it. The idea was to spend so time exploring this relatively unexplored area in hope of making the big find. From my notes:

Sat Sep 03 - I got skunked but JP finds his first gold with Gold Bug 2. Decides he likes the little beast.

Sun Sep 04 - Australian Father's Day. I find only gold of day, 1.1 grams.

Mon Sep 05 - Hit hilltop scrapings with Gold Bug 2, Gold Bug Pro, and Minelabs. Get four small nuggets. Quit early and head for Meekathrra for supplies, then meet new crew at camp at end of day.

Chris Ralph Using Gold Bug 2. Note Surface Rubble Pushed Into Piles And Rows.

Tue Sep 06 - Drive to lease location and set new camp.

We now had a few ATVs at our disposal as the amount of area to explore was very large. One ATV was outfitted with a drag coil for really covering some area looking for new patches. The rest of us scouted around in pairs on other ATVs looking for likely locations to hunt. The results....

Wed Sep 07 - No gold.

Thu Sep 08 - No gold.

Our hosts really wanted to keep the entire crew on task but at this point Chris and I were ready to move on. Our time was limited and this big gamble was not paying off. Nobody was finding anything at all, and after seeing the geology a couple days Chris was pretty doubtful of the potential. We made our apologies and offered thanks for the opportunity, but with not one nugget found by several teams so far it was not looking good. If even a single nugget had been found we would have stayed on.

JP knew a spot he had always wanted to try but had not, another blue sky idea. We headed there.

Fri Sep 09 - No gold.

Sat Sep 10 - No gold. But JP finds spiny anteater!

Five days no gold, with Chris and I feeling the days slipping by. The decision was made to spend the remainder of the trip back on the known patches eking out what gold we could in the time we had left. No regrets however as you have to constantly be doing some of this blue sky prospecting if you have hopes of finding that patch of gold that still lurks out there somewhere, undiscovered.

Big Find Of The Week - Spiny Anteater

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is magic, I mean your sharing of your notes, your diary. Tis reality, takes out that "romantic myth" that it is just laying around in OZ and makes that spiny anteater and other such finds the real treasure of OZ. But having said that, it was just laying around and still is but not as plentiful and where???????? Many thanks for sharing Steve, not just with us your current members but for the future readers, perhaps we should leave some evidence of "living in the electronic gold detector age". We are very privileged to live in this era. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Norvic. I started my Steve's Mining Journal over 20 years ago with the express purpose of trying to show realistically the results one person might attain prospecting. It also serves a real purpose for me personally, in that I am the sort of person who has no rear view mirror. I am always looking to the future and rarely think about the past, and unfortunately that means my memory of the past is not the greatest. Keeping a journal and taking lots of photos is something I strongly encourage everyone to do. These really are memories of a lifetime, and letting them fade and be forgotten would be a shame. Hopefully by providing lots of extra details I am also helping others who may be planning similar adventures, both with their own planning but also in setting realistic expectations.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Steve

I really enjoy reading your journal, I used to follow your Alaskan one when you lived up there and regularly dredged.

The lizard in your photo is likely to be a Sand Monitor, they and all monitors are highly intelligent easily as smart as a large parrot. This can cause problems when they are large as they no longer fear you once they get over 6ft in length and if they sniff out your food stash it can be a problem! 

Tremain used to have a pet Perentie that was just under 3.5m long so about 11ft long on the yankee scale wiki and other sources say they only grow to 2.5m but this is BS I've seen a huge one in far NW nsw and their distribution map is also way out! They are an amazing animal and you were privileged to encounter one of the monitors.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good eating too ... ask any of the Yamatji mob here. Throughout the Murchison area we call them Bungarra's. They dig decent holes to live in - it is usually a good sign if prospecting as they seem to coincide with faults.

Again I stress - Far north Queensland is where the gold is .... nothing to see in WA ...... move along



  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love the detail in your extended version...takes me back to my first trip. I also keep a diary of my Oz trips...just short notes to jog my memory and hopefully keep the days straight in my mind.

this is a part of my first article of my first trip to OZ...

The following is most of my diary for the entire journey with Doug:

Day 1 – fly for hours and hours, get to Perth…looks like I am still in San Diego…walking in the city could be deadly (I was always looking the wrong way first when crossing streets).
Day 2 – fly to Port Headland…no roads visible from the air, my kind of place!
Day 3 – got to camp in P.M., detect 3 hours – no gold
Day 4 – A.M. no gold; P.M. first Aussie nugget 2.9 gram – THANKS
Day 5 – found one grammer; already tired but having a great time Day 6 – Great People…first nugget in drybed, 2nd in quartz blow, 3rd on flats
Day 7 – toured Comet Mine…went underground and saw big Ghost Bats-stopped in Nullagine and mailed postcards (the mail is very slow, they took about 2-3 weeks to get to my house).
Day 8 – found 4 nuggets – 4.3 grams – in the A.M.; P.M. long walk but no gold.
Day 9 – A.M. 10 gram nugget; P.M. 1 gram nugget
Day 10 – no gold
Day 11 – no gold
Day 11 – saw my first “roo” out in the bush; what a sight! No gold; KEEP TRYING!
Day 12 – GOLD AGAIN! 4 pieces – 11.5 grams. Saw three bush turkeys and two roos.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

The early days of our trip we did not see many flies but now they were coming on strong, as can be seen in the photo above with the Spiny Anteater. The flies were not biting flies and so not a worry in that regard, but they are looking for moisture of any sort and are attracted to a persons face. Absolutely maddening and bad enough at times to force the use of head nets in order to maintain concentration while metal detecting.


Another insect would make for a scary surprise if I was not paying attention as I wandered around between the small trees and bushes. The Golden Orb Weaving Spider likes to make very large webs spanning the space between a couple bushes. I am usually watching my coil and I wandered into these a few times before I learned better. They are not aggressive nor particularly dangerous but they can put a fright into a person when wrapped around your face!


Sunday, September 11 we moved camp back to the Meekatharra area, and on arrival I found one tiny nugget. It may have been tiny but that was a needed change of pace. The next day was even better when I scored three nuggets that each weighed 2.9 grams - how weird is that, for about 9 grams of gold. The next day I beat that with two nuggets, one 6.9 grams and another at 3 grams for about 10 grams that day, making my total for the trip so far just over an ounce of gold. These last two were found around some large ironstone dikes with nearly no quartz visible.


We made time for a run into town to replenish supplies and wash clothing. Once again I was reminded that the exchange rate was not bad but the price on most items was just much higher than one would expect in the States.

The next few days saw some gold bits but nothing exciting. My journal, picking up where I left off last:

Sun Sep 11 - Move to Meekatharra, gold! One tiny nugget.

Mon Sep 12 - About 9 grams, three 2.9 gram nuggets.

Tue Set 13 - 10 grams, 6.9 gram nugget plus 3 grammer. Go shopping in Meekatharra. Total now over 1 ounce.

Wed Sep 14 - 0.01 nugget (my notation for too small to weigh on my scale)

Thu Sep 15 - 0.01 nugget

Fri Sep 16 - Hardpan scraped area (more on that later) 4 grams.

Sat Sep 17 - No gold

Sun Sep 18 - 1/2 ounce slug! Storm.

Chris had wandered around and found an area with chain marks and dig holes on the 17th. We went there the morning of the 18th to hunt it to see if they missed anything (who doesn't?). Both JP and I scored nice slugs that day but Chris, who found the place, unfortunately only got one small nugget. The day was cut short by a short lived but very intense storm that tossed things around in camp.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for sharing Steve. That nugget that JP got was really deep. No wonder they are always looking for extra depth there in OZ.

Looks like you found a second gold ring as well ! 


Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, strick said:

Looks like you found a second gold ring as well ! 

Years ago I was detecting in Hawaii and found a plain 14K band. My wedding ring of the time was very worn, so I threw it in the smelt pile and decided to wear the one I found instead. A couple years later I found an identical plain band (they are common) so took to wearing it also for a few years. I told my wife I loved her twice as much as when we married and so needed two rings, scoring points. Strangers who commented I told them I had one for each wife!

I found a third plain band and even was up to wearing all three for a bit, then decided I had gone too far and went back to wearing just the one.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...