Where To Strike It Rich

By Julia D'Orazio

Before people put their bets on the stock market, crypto or NFTs, people grabbed a pan to try their luck striking gold. Gold panning involves parting particles of greater gravity, particularly gold, from soils or gravels in a pan with water. No machinery is required here; Panning is a traditional method for individual prospectors to scavenge gold and other valuable minerals, such as diamonds.

Strike gold on your own terms; Australia's Golden Outback has plenty of lucky spots to seek gold. Follow our guide on where to go gold panning in WA and have a chance of reaping the rewards at minimal cost.

Hannans North Tourist Mine

One of the top things to do in Kalgoorlie-Boulder is exploring Hannans North Tourist Mine. The tourist mine is within easy walking distance from Kalgoorlie's main centre, just 1.5km left from the top end of Hannan Street. It is the perfect starting point to strike it rich in the goldfields and offers self-guided and group tours for all ages.

Spot the traditional outback skyscraper – an old mine shaft – looming over the open-air museum. Under its shadow, examine the gold mining machinery of yesteryear. Stand in the giant wheels of the Godzilla-like mining trucks, the 793C hauler or in a bright yellow bucket of a 994F loader. Get an education on Kalgoorlie's gold rush history by visiting historical buildings and the former Hainault mine, including a trip underground. Learn how modern mining practices have advanced.

After learning about the gold rush, seek out your own treasures by having a go at gold panning. The tourist mine provides an introductory course to gold panning, guiding beginner prospectors on panning for gold with the pans provided. Will this be the day you strike gold?

Not all prosperity in the region is related to gold; Seek your fortunes in more ways than one by experiencing a pop of colour by visiting the tranquil Chinese Garden of Remembrance in the tourist mine.

Price: $47 per family (two adults and up to four children), $16 per adult, $14 per concession, $9 per child (5-15), and under five free.

What gold panning equipment do you need?

You don't need much to kick-start your career as a gold miner. Head over to the gold mining store, Finders Keepers Gold, along Hannan Street, purchase a miner's shovel and 12 to 14-inch pan, and start digging!

Other tools that may aid your golden discovery include a spoon or hook for scarping, a geologist's pick, and magnifying glass. Remember to bring a container to tightly secure your potential winnings!

Use the modern-day methods for searching for gold, and purchase or hire a metal detector. Need some assistance? There are many guided tours in the goldfields to prospect for gold. Gold Talk Leonora offers a three-day course suited for beginners, and Coolgardie Gold Safaris runs three, five and ten-day tours and custom tours to seek your fortune.

Read more: Prospecting on the Golden Quest Discovery Trail

How to pan for gold

  1. Half-fill the pan with sand, small rocks and gravel collected from the stream.
  2. Place the pan under the water's surface. Remove bigger rocks/stones and break up large clumps of dirt.
  3. Place your hands on opposite sides of the pan and continue to hold it underwater. Tilt the forward, slightly down. Rotate the pan, shaking it side to side to let substances like sand and gravel trickle out.
  4. Repeat this process until most of the substance is removed. You should have less than a cup of fine-grained substance in your pan.
  5. Move the pan in a circular motion and observe how the water separates lighter substances from heavier ones.
  6. Once you have stopped rotating, fingers crossed that you see a flash of gold in the pan! Carefully pick up the gold and store it safely in your container.
  7. After, make sure to get your find evaluated by a local gold dealer to see if you did, in fact, strike gold or if it's deemed 'fool's gold'! (We hope it's the latter!)

Do I need a permit to pan for gold?

You must obtain a Miner's Right permit to prospect for gold in Western Australia. This permit can be obtained from any Mining Registrar's office for a fee or online.

Where can I go gold panning?

Besides trying your beginner’s luck at Hannans North Tourist Mine, there are many other places within Australia's Golden Outback to go gold panning. Once you have obtained a Miner's Right, you may go gold panning anywhere that's not:

  • Unoccupied crown lands not covered by a granted mining tenement.
  • A pastoral lease not covered by a granted mining tenement- provided prior notice is given to the pastoralist.
  • A mining tenement – providing you have permission from the tenement holder.
  • A granted exploration licence after having been issued a three-month section 20A permit.

Before you plan your next dig, read the Seven Golden Rules for Prospecting.

Can you make money from panning for gold?

People can make money from gold panning but be patient with your search – it can often be a slow process; however, the rewards can be great! It varies how much you can make from gold panning depending on the size of your find. To know how much your nugget of gold is worth, visit a gold dealer such as The Prospectors Patch to have it evaluated.

Or get rich the easy way, no dirty hands here! Head to Natural Gold Nuggets & Jewellery to purchase a golden nugget or a memento that will impress: customised jewels.

Get lucky in the outback! Plot your gold panning adventure on The Golden Quest Discovery Trail.