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Steve's 2011 Australia Gold Adventure

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 1/12/2017 at 1:58 PM, Steve Herschbach said:

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

There were a couple instances where we encountered gold in conglomerate - gravel that has turned to solid rock. On September 16 we visited one location where all the loose soil had been scraped off down to a layer of gravel over bedrock that has been cemented into a cap rock of very solid conglomerate. The gold bearing gravel probably had water with silica circulating through it in the past, eventually turning it into solid rock with gold nuggets trapped inside. The area had been hunted a lot in the past but careful hunting with the GPX 5000 and large coils would turn up faint signals. These in turn were laboriously chipped out. We got gold - I found four grams - and although it was interesting as far as being different it is not the most fun way to find gold. The only saving grace is you can be certain any decent signal will be gold as there is no trash in solid rock. Here I am detecting the cap rock.


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The end of our month long trip to Australia is approaching. It is starting to sink in that the massive Australian nugget I had dreamt of finding was going to continue to be a dream. The flies were out in force now but we persevered trying new locations hoping to get lucky.

Mon Sep 19 - Two nuggets, 0.8 gram

Tue Sep 20 - Move to new location, no gold

Wed Sep 21 - 3.6 grams, found a sunbaker

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What fun! Wish I could have been there...

I was always amazed that many of the Aussies I spoke with would not really look at surface targets but said they didn't bother if the target moved with a boot scrape...I have found several small sunbakers in Oz...still want to find a big one.

Of course, I can't find one there from here................



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I have to admit that by this time I was ready to go home. A month is a long time to be away, especially when sleeping in a small tent on the ground every night. The near perfect weather the entire time was a blessing in that regard, making camp life more pleasant than it would have been under harsher conditions. Just a reminder that on every day of this trip we were up at daybreak and hunting until the light faded.

Thu Sep 22 - One thin nugget

Fri Sep 23 - This was the day that was posted earlier with video #2 where we hunted a gully and I found my "Dragon Nugget". My total for day 3.6 grams.

Sat Sep 24 - One nugget

Sun Sep 25 - 12 grams!

Mon Sep 26 - Last day of detecting, I found four nuggets at 1.5 grams total.

I hunted the perimeters of a patch finding my last four nuggets, with the last in a nearby wash. We left Jonathan in the field after saying our farewells. An early morning departure put us back in Perth by that evening. We returned our borrowed vehicle with thanks to Jonathan's friends and after a day's rest and a short tour of Perth were on our way back home.

So how did we do? Chris ended up with 38 grams of gold. I found about half as many nuggets as Chris did, but they were larger nuggets and so my total was 74.5 grams. JP of course outdid us both with 123.5 grams.

In general Chris used standard sized coils and stayed in the main patch areas, accounting for why he got twice as many nuggets as I did but for them also being smaller in size. The video shows this to good effect. I ran an 18" round mono most of the trip and concentrated more on looking for larger gold and though I found fewer nuggets they ended up weighing more in total.

One thing I decided going over was that hunting the main patch areas was not likely to make an exceptional find. I do believe that large nuggets get cleaned out early, and nearly every patch we hunted was well known and hunted by many people over the years. In that regard we were doing what any visitor could do because we stuck to easily accessible areas. I therefore spent at least half my time every day running long solo loops away from the main areas hoping to find an overlooked area in some little corner - a tiny virgin patch of my own. There was also the few days we spent doing pure blue sky detecting that came up dry. The reality is my many hours spent hunting off the main patch areas was almost totally non-productive, with only a few nuggets found. I am sure in retrospect that I could have increased my gold take by staying closer in to the main patch areas. JP with his superior knowledge hit the perfect balance between Chris staying more in the well hunted areas and my long treks well off the known patch areas. That and his superb knowledge of the GPX 5000 were a joy to experience in person.

I have to admit I was surprised I could not come up with anything of note by wandering off on my own for so much of the trip. Almost everywhere you go in Australia it all looks like fantastic ground with many indicators that gold should be likely. And yet covering huge areas of fantastic looking ground usually produced not a single nugget. It is much different than where I am hunting in Nevada these days, where lone isolated nuggets seem to pop up regularly in oddball locations. Where we were in Australia it was much more like you were either in a patch or out of it, and if out of it nothing would be found. I can't say I regret making those long side hunts because I do love wandering around and exploring, but in this case staying closer in to the proven patch areas would have been more productive for me.

This does show anyone wishing to visit Australia that it would pay to not get your expectations too high. Unless you have some superior access to remote areas, the amount of detecting that has taken place there over the decades is amazing. There were prospectors with detectors everywhere we went, and my guess is most of them are more serious prospectors than is the norm in the U.S. Chris and I lamented many times we had not made this trip in the 1980's. There is still gold to be found in Australia but the easy pickings are indeed long gone. It is very difficult for a visitor with limited local knowledge and limited time to do more than just be happy finding any gold at all.

That about sums it up - a trip of a lifetime indeed. Thanks JP for being such a wonderful host and showing us your great country!




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Steve, I would like to thank you for the effort you have put into this thread. It is the highlight of my day to pop into the forum with a coffee early in the morning and re-live the trip through your eyes. I have not done much social detecting in my life, having you guys along was very enjoyable and one of my most cherished memories. 

If you ever come back we need to make sure you have access to a Quad, then I could really show you some interesting ground. Australia has seen a lot of attention over the years that's true, but its such a vast country there is still a lifetimes worth of places to go check out that have never seen a metal detector.

If you were ever wondering during your trip how I might have been distracted at times there were two reasons for it, one was my family were over five days drive away from me and I hadn't seen them for two months at the time you left and secondly the last time we went to town I picked up a parcel which contained one of the first GPZ prototypes, which was sitting behind the seat of my 4 x 4 as you and Chris drove off.

The mix of emotions for me as you guys left me in the wildness of WA was pretty overwhelming and I have to be honest and say I did shed a tear or three, it was just plain nice to have the company of two absolute gentlemen sharing my country and way of life for a few short weeks. The mix of parting with great company, homesickness for my own kin, the excitement of the possibilities of ZVT were a deadly combination for someone now having to face the coming days on their own.

I did revisit some of our patches and proved up the GPZ at those locations, one place was were you found the Dragon nugget but the place beat me at that early stage, however when I returned a year or so later with a more mature platform you will be pleased to know I dragged over an ounce out of there with the potential for more as I was rushed at the time.

Steve you have an open invite to return, just say the word.


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