Whilst Working in Kambalda at a Nickel mine, there was often an opportunity to go out prospecting for Gold and other minerals. I was fortunate enough to know an operator at our mine site who owned several Gold leases, one of which was in Kookynie (about 70km NE of Menzies). He was regularly bringing in his Gold finds to work – bragging rights really, but it was good to see. Being a passionate Gold Guy, I am always keen to get out and swing the detector so when the invitation was given to have use of his lease, I jumped at the chance!
The set up that he had was quite good; a reasonable sized caravan with an annex, a picnic table and BBQ along with an outdoor shower. He also had a small dozer for pushing dirt as he would regularly grid and detect, then push off a foot or so then detect again. The only premise that was given was that we had to mark and flag any finds so that he could go back over the area again… Pretty fair I thought!
At this point I think it is time to introduce my partner in crime in this expedition – Sebastian. He is originally from Germany, has a PHD in Mineralogy, works as an exploration Geologist, is a skilled field collector and an allround top bloke. We had been on numerous field collecting trips together in the past chasing Tourmalines, Lepidolite, Trithillionite, Emeralds and Chrysoprase, (all in Western Australia). We also had a few in Tasmania, where we went to the Weld River for Sapphires and the West Coast collecting Fluorite, Pyrite, Tektites and of course Crocoite! So I guess you could say we got on pretty well.
This trip was going to be a little different as he was not a Gold person. In fact he was bored at the thought of wandering around for hours swinging a detector… but was keen for a road trip and always up for a beer or 10!
Anyway, back to the story… On the way out we took a slight detour to the Wonder Well mine on Riverina station to look for Emeralds again (just love that Green)! We found a few nice ones, some of which were cuttable and a couple of good specimens, so all in all a successful outing. When we arrived at the lease we quickly realised that it would be too hot to sleep in the caravan so we decided that I would sleep in a mesh tent and Seb would put his swag on the roof cage. A big mistake! As you will see in the photos there was a huge deluge a few days prior to us leaving for the trip so Seb got hammered by mosquitos.
Day one of detecting we thought it best to split up (whilst staying in sight of each other) to test the ground. I headed toward the lease boundary where Gold had previously been found and Seb headed off to a large Quartz blow. Being November it was hot and by 10am we ran with our tail between our legs to the nearest water hole to cool down and to rehydrate. Our 2 hour break turned into an all day beer-athon and we only returned to camp an hour or so before sundown to cook dinner. The next few days we detected pretty hard and kept our waterhole antics to a minimum but by the end of the trip we were still without a single bit of yellow. If we were collecting brass and lead, we would have had a tonne of it!
Whilst on this occasion no Gold was found, the trip was a great experience – Good times with a good mate. We had a good swag of Emeralds though and also picked up some quality Chrysoprase from a neighboring lease (with permission of course). I guess the point of this story is that a lot of people just don’t realise how many hours prospectors put in through adverse conditions to find very little sometimes. I have had many other successful expeditions since, but it’s trips like the one discussed above that give you a real appreciation for how hard it can be.
I will add some pics of the Emeralds and other finds in the coming weeks!