7 Tips on Prospecting for Gold With a Metal Detector

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My most pleasant and relaxing pastime is to roam through the Victorian Iron Bark Forests, just as the sun rises, swinging a Metal Detector. At that time of the day the wallabies are just a couple of metres away, standing and watching you as you move so slowly and quietly along.

Ah, beautiful! Then ‘buzzzip’ in your headphone wakes you. Now I’ve got to dig this target up, but later.

The First thing you are going to need is a Metal Detector

  1. Minelab Detectors are the best to use in Australian Goldfields. Heavy with Iron Stone, the ground reacts noisily with other brands, but Minelabs have the ability to tune the effect out. Detectors can be hired (with tools) from businesses in towns close to the old Goldfields, or if you buy one, you’ll pay $4000 or so for a used one. You’d find that the business would give you coaching even if you hired one for a few days, and that way you would have access to the very latest model.
  2. These detectors need to be moving over a metal target to generate a signal, and the sound that you hear can give you a fairly good indication as to the type of metal target. Lead bullets are very common, and do give a warmer signal (buzzzzim) than Brass (buzzzzitt), while Gold gives a very mellow (buzzzoom), which once heard, you’ll never forget.
  3. Where do you go? This is the most asked question, and the answer that I always give, is to start out at one of the old Goldfields. If you’re camping or caravanning you can camp close to the old workings, and then you could pick a Goldfield a bit further from town.
  4. You do need a hand held GPS unit and some maps for your search area and these would be available from the same place you got your detector. Where the visibility is limited by bush, always take a GPS reading where you’ve parked your vehicle, turn the GPS off to save the battery, and away you go to find your first Nugget.
  5. Where do you start searching? Don’t waste time going over the old diggings, but search for a few metres around the perimeter, especially in any low lying spots, or a small gutter running into the area. My biggest Nugget of over 2 Troy Ounces was found in just such a place, that had been really flogged by Metal Detectors.
  6. While you are doing this search, you also keep an eye on the surrounding country, noting Gullys that come in, Ridges, Slopes that are fairly gentle, spotting any Quartz Blows, so that when you get back to camp and are slurping down a Cold One, you can check your maps, and just try to work out where the Gold in the old workings came from, then tomorrow you follow that trail back to what you reckon was the original source.
  7. Now we’re going to dig that target up. Get a general idea where the signal is loudest, then sweep the detector coil across that spot in parallel tracks noting the loudest track. Mark that line with your pick, then stand at one end of that line, and do the parallel sweeps again. Where the two loudest sweeps cross is where your target will be. Start a hole about 12 inches across, digging from the outside, you don’t want to put your pick through the Nugget. If you get down to 8 or 9 inches and the target is still in the hole, there is a good chance it’s Gold.

Don’t worry about being a Newbie, I know one who hired a detector from Coiltek in Maryborough, Victoria, in the morning, went out with it, had trouble, took it back to Coiltek for another lesson, went back to his Goldfield and found a 4.5 ouncer.

The thrill you get when you’ve dug up even a 1 gram piece of Gold is fantastic, and your first thought is to rush back to show it off, but Steady On, there could be another lurking close by, and quite often there is.