He found his thoughts wandering and tried to bring himself back to the moment. After all, it was a beautiful morning. Bringing his focus back to his feet crunching in the sand and the warm breeze that whipped around his head pleasantly, he started to feel better. Things weren’t so bad. They’d manage, somehow.
Suddenly, he heard a shriek and turned to see his daughter on her knees, hunched over something in the sand. Squinting up at him in the sunlight, she yelled: “Dad, is this gold?”
It was a warm May’s day in Bendigo, Australia, as one unsuspecting family went about their morning. It also happened to be Mother’s Day. He got the children up and dressed early, and they surprised their mom with the traditional breakfast in bed.
Little did they all know, fate was waiting with a surprise of its own that would change their lives — all because of a rescue dog named ‘Lucky.’
Aptly-named Lucky was a mixed-breed, and when young Ellie had spotted him at their local shelter three years earlier, she instantly fell in love. Although the Garrett family had intended to adopt a puppy, there was just something about Lucky.
When they took him home, they never imagined just what a lucky charm their new dog would prove to be.
By the time the Mother’s Day breakfast dishes were cleared away, Lucky was frantic. He scratched at the door and squealed with anticipation, gazing longingly at the door, then back again with pleading eyes. It was time for his walk.
“You go ahead,” their mom said happily. So off they went, dad, Ellie, Tina, and Lucky – never suspecting that they would stumble upon something that would change their fortunes forever.
John tried to hide his worries from his children, but he kept finding his mind wandering to unpaid bills while he walked. They had fallen on tough times recently, and his daughters’ college funds were all but depleted.
Remembering his earlier days spend prospecting in the surrounding hills, he couldn’t help but wonder how different their lives would have been if he had found that elusive gold. He felt like a failure. He continued, with his eyes firmly on the horizon. But his eyes should have been on the ground.
The city of Bendigo is well-known for its gold rush during the 1800s. In just 50 years, more gold was found within Bendigo ground than anywhere else in the world.
But the city, built on rich gold-bearing quartz reefs, still hasn’t given up all of its treasure. And luck was certainly on John and his family’s side that day.
Approaching The Shore
John walked ahead of his daughters, keeping an eye out for treacherous rocks. They were approaching Lucky’s favorite spot – the shore of the lake.
He turned around to see Ellie unfastening his lead, and like lightning, the dog was off — tail wagging furiously and tongue lolling, an expression of pure joy on his face. He couldn’t contain his smile at the dog’s exuberance. Suddenly, he heard a shriek and his blood ran cold.
Whipping his head around, he saw Ellie on her knees and thought the worst. With his fatherly instincts kicking in, he ran as fast as he could to where she was crouched. But he would soon realize that the shriek wasn’t one of terror, it was of excitement.
She was holding something that glittered so brilliantly that he stopped in his tracks. Then, she looked up and said the words that would rock John’s world.
“Dad, is this gold?” she yelled excitedly. In a daze at his daughter’s find, he whispered, “I think it might be.” He reached for the treasure she held in her hands and turned it over, inspecting it carefully.
That’s when he realized that the nugget was enormous – it fits neatly in the palm of his hand. He knew that they had to find a scale – and fast!
To The Supermarket!
Without a moment’s hesitation, John began to head toward the only place he was sure would have a scale – the local IGA supermarket. After a short walk into town, he hurriedly made his way to the deli counter, daughters in tow.
When John presented his discovery to be weighed, the assistant’s eyes grew wide. But just how much would the nugget be worth?
The nugget weighed in at a whopping 624g, but there was still one question remaining: was it really pure gold?
After rushing home and telling his wife about the miraculous find, John wasted no time getting the nugget evaluated by gold experts. And the nugget’s true worth turned out to be more than he could ever have hoped for.
Worth A Fortune
The gold nugget was evaluated at $35,000 – perhaps even more if it was sold as a whole piece. It finally looked like the Garretts’ financial hardships were over, but they were left with a tough decision to make.
Should they keep the gold nugget and wait for its value to appreciate? Or sell it to the highest bidder?
John, deciding it was best not to look a gift horse in the mouth, had his own reasons for wanting to sell it. “We’ve come on some tough times, so it’s really good because we’ve been struggling financially. It couldn’t be better timing, really,” he confessed.
But, John has high hopes for the future.
Since his amazing beachside find, John has decided to return to the site in search of more gold. “usually when you find a nugget that big, there will be more gold around,” he reasons. “I actually walked right past it, but my daughter pretty much kicked it as she was walking.”
And who knows, with some luck and a lucky charm in the form of a dog by his side, he may just strike it rich. But he’s not the only one to get lucky in Australia
In August 2016, another retired prospector finally hit pay dirt while searching for gold in Western Australia’s Northern Goldfields. But the man, who refuses to reveal his identity, didn’t count on luck alone.
Instead, he used his trusted metal detector and some advanced gold-detecting technology. The nugget was dubbed “Friday’s Joy,” a nod to “Thursday’s Joy, another colossal nugget found in the same area.
“About 12 inches below the ground, I could just barely make out the top of something. I really couldn’t believe my eyes,” he said.
“This wasn’t an old piece of steel in front of me. I had just unearthed a colossal gold nugget – a once-in-a-lifetime find! I was in total disbelief as I didn’t think nuggets of this size were still around,” the lucky man recalled.
But some people believe that the Golden Triangle, as Western Australia is known, is still far from being tapped out.
An Expensive Hobby
So, just how much does the hobby of gold prospecting cost? Well, the Minelab GPZ metal detector will set you back about $8,000 – but prospecting groups feel that the cost is well worth it.
Fraser Kendall, director of Minelab’s sales and marketing division, commented on the incredible find: “We’re thrilled that a Minelab customer has made such an amazing and important discovery,” he said. “[He] was prospecting in an area that others had clearly worked over and this just goes to show that there’s plenty of gold still coming out of Victoria.”
Finding The Big One
So, what did the man do after his momentous gold nugget discovery?
“It’s like catching a big fish and not knowing what to do with it!” the prospector explained. “Where do we put it? I washed it in water, covered it in aluminum foil and kept it in my oven on the first night.”
Another record-breaking gold nugget was found just four years earlier in The Golden Triangle. Named the “Destiny” gold nugget, it was given an estimate of $292,000 in 2014 and weighed an incredible 3.7kg.
But this recently discovered gold nugget was by no means the largest ever found. The title belongs to a nugget found in 1869.
The “Welcome Stranger” was mined in Victoria and weighed in at 173 pounds – it took the record for the largest gold nugget ever found.
Cornish miner John Deason was digging around the roots of a tree when he discovered the nugget buried 3cm below the surface. The nugget would have been worth around $3 million today.