The Australian gold rush that never ended


By Geoff Hiscock
Nikkei Asian Review, Tokyo
Wednesday, September 2, 2020

NUNDLE, Australia -- Mount Misery is not a name to inspire confidence in a budding treasure hunter. But 160 years ago European and Chinese prospectors dragged thousands of grams of alluvial gold from the area, and with the international gold price soaring above $2,000 a troy ounce (31.1 grams) in recent weeks, who's to say that I can't make my fortune here too?

I have followed one of Australia's many "gold trails" to Nundle, a quiet village at the foot of the Great Dividing Range, about 400 kilometers northwest of Sydney in the state of New South Wales. Armed with a shallow dish and fossicking tools, I am about to pan for gold in one of the mountain-fed streams that flow through the area.

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It could be a fool's mission -- or it could make me wealthy beyond my dreams. Therein lies the lure of fossicking.

My host. Warren Tremain of the Mount Misery Gold Mine Museum, takes my money for the museum tour, sells me a coffee, and then rents me the essential gold fossickers' kit for 20 Australian dollars (US$14.35) -- thus confirming the iron law of the gold fields: The only people guaranteed to make money from a gold rush are those who sell the tools, food, clothing, shelter, and services.

But I'm already in, mesmerized by the sight of the museum's replica 80-ounce gold nugget found here in the early 1850s. One like that would be worth a cool US$160,000 at $2,000 an ounce. ...

... For the remainder of the report:

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