Author: Margaret Burns
With the gold price hitting new highs ($1,720 USD per ounce as at March 2021), and the recent popularity of the Discovery channel show Aussie Gold Hunters, a modern-day gold rush has seen a wave of hobbyist prospectors head to Australia’s Golden Outback.
Have you been inspired to try gold prospecting? To help you strike it lucky in the Goldfields, we’ve put together some handy tips for beginners to be able to prospect safely and legally whilst out on the Golden Quest Discovery Trail.
Keeping it Legal
First things first. It’s not legal to look for gold unless you have a Miners Right. You can get one for $25 from the Department of Mines.
The first one is in Coolgardie, on Bayley Street. There is one in Leonora, on Rochester street, and where we end the trail – site 25 – in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, on the corner of Hunter and Broadwood Streets. Here’s a link to their website.
If you’re planning to venture out independently The Seven Golden Rules of Prospecting is the best starting place for legal and safety information. It’s a good idea to do extensive research on the areas you plan on exploring.
Prepare for extended periods of time in unfamiliar and extremely harsh environments.
There are rules for where you are, and where you aren’t allowed to prospect. For detailed and up-to-date information, the friendly and helpful staff at The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety can help you with all you need to know.
When prospecting on the Golden Quest, make sure that you let someone know where you are going and will you expect to return.
Consider buying or hiring a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) or an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) that is registered and GPS enabled, for further information on both purchasing and registering a PLB or EPIRB click on the following link (register your beacon). These can be hired from most camping shops around the State. For more information on outback safety visit the Western Australian Police Force.
Tips from Aussie Gold Hunters
Marcus recommends bringing “plenty of water and food, plus the app Trilobite and two way radios, but mainly water and food.” and says the best thing about prospecting is “ you never gonna know what you get when it comes to Gold, a small one or a big one, obviously big ones are the best” while for Linden, “The best thing about prospecting is being out bush, on the land.” for safety’s sake he says “Don’t go alone if you’re an amateur and be prepared – water, food, fuel, first aid etc”
Is Prospecting in the Goldfields expensive?
Prospectors can easily spend up to $10,000 on their equipment and that’s not including any earthworks machinery that the semi-pro prospectors use. You can buy outright or hire the gear you need to try before you buy. The best place to gear up along the trail is Kalgoorlie-Boulder, where you’ll find the most equipment retailers. Finders Keepers or The Prospectors Patch can give you advice on the right equipment to set you up.
Gold prospecting tours in the Goldfields
There are many guided prospecting tours, and for less than the cost of buying a metal detector, you can book with a guide and rent the equipment you need.
Gold Talk Leonora offers a 3-day course suitable for the absolute beginner as well as those with some experience.
Become a member on the Pirates Gold Tours Facebook page to see what tag-along tours on private leases are available and ask about their new four-day training courses.
For custom tours, Coolgardie Gold Safaris can create your dream gold hunting adventure. They also run standard 3, 5 or 10 day tours.
Tagging along on a tour means safety in numbers and increasing your chance of a find alongside an experienced guide.
Where can I go gold prospecting in Australia’s Golden Outback?
The whole region is full of possibilities, and while there are some handy apps available to help you find the legal places to explore it is always recommended that you cross check your locations with the Department of Mines Tengraph.
This video provides a general overview of the Tengraph
Happy Prospector App provides Metal Detectorists and Gold Prospectors in Western Australia with real-time positional information using their smartphone or tablet device Android to show their current position on a map with the ability to overlay the Western Australian DMIRS (DMP) Tenement data so the user knows if they are on a live or pending tenement.
Who will buy my gold and what can be made with it?
Natural Gold Nuggets & Jewellery located at 150 Hannan Street, Kalgoorlie not only buys gold but can also create custom jewellery. If you don’t strike it rich on your prospecting adventures, it’s also a great place to pick up a local souvenir. They stock natural gemstones and gold nuggets from the region.
The Perth Mint shop located at 310 Hay Street, East Perth welcomes members of the public. They buy clean (rock-free) natural gold nuggets of all sizes. It is recommended that sellers call in advance for advice.
Family fun in the Goldfields
Looking for a unique prospecting experience but not quite ready to venture out bush? The Kalgoorlie-based, Hannans North Tourist Mine offers families an array of activities to make you feel like a Miner. Climb up the 793C haul truck, pan for gold or catch a gold pour demonstration.
We recommend packing a picnic for lunch in the Chinese Remembrance Gardens. This oasis of zen is located within the Hannans North Tourist Mine precinct and is often host to weddings, stargazing events, and yoga classes.
Save room for an ice cream from the gift shop where you’ll find a great selection of souvenirs suitable for all budgets.
Safe and happy travels!
Your travels throughout our unique region will be much more enjoyable if you are adequately prepared for extended periods in a sometimes harsh climate. Please remember to take regular breaks when driving, stock up on water and let others know where you are going and when you expect to come back.
If you’re out and about on the Quest we would love to know. Hashtag your social media images with #GoldenQuestDiscoveryTrail and #RoadTripCountry