What is the largest gold nugget ever found and where was it discovered?
How much did the largest gold nugget ever found weigh?
How much was the largest gold nugget ever found worth?
Read on to find out this and much more...
As you wander through Moliagul, take a moment to soak in the rich history and charming atmosphere. Imagine the excitement that once filled the air when news of the 'Welcome Stranger' spread like wildfire. It's a place where dreams came true and legends were born.
Moliagul is more than just a sleepy town in Victoria. It's a place where the impossible became possible, where a simple stroll through the countryside could lead to unimaginable riches. So, pack your sense of adventure, put on your explorer hat, and get ready to uncover the golden secrets of Moliagul!
Wicksy in his explorer hat with the "Welcome Stanger" monument.
Gold Fever: The Birth of the 'Welcome Stranger'
Have you ever wondered where the largest gold nugget ever found was discovered? Look no further than Moliagul, a small town in Victoria, Australia. In this blog post, we will take you on a journey to explore the site of the 'Welcome Stranger' gold nugget and uncover its fascinating history.
What is the 'Welcome Stranger' gold nugget?
The 'Welcome Stranger' is the largest gold nugget ever found, weighing a staggering 2,280 ounces (about 72 kilograms). It was discovered on February 5, 1869, by John Deason and Richard Oates in Moliagul. The nugget was named 'Welcome Stranger' because of the miners' joyful exclamation upon its discovery.
Gold at Moliagul
The first recorded discovery of gold in this district was made in 1852 about a kilometer from where the Welcome Stranger would eventually be uncovered.
The discovery of gold created a rush in the area, and a police camp was established to keep law and order among the 4000 miners.
By 1855 16,000 diggers crowded around a main street a mile long jam packed with saloons.
Gold gradually became more and more difficult to find, and many miners left for more popular goldfields though some with more substantial claims remained. Among these were two Cornish miners, John Deason and Richard Oates.
Both Deason and Oates were born on the island of Tresco, 50km south west of Lands End, England. The two grew up together and after learning of the discovery of gold in Australia, arrived in Bendigo in February 1854. They spent eight years there with moderate success, and then moved to Moliagul.
Deason and Oates pegged a puddling claim on the side of this hill; they were aware of large nuggets having been found in the gully below, know as Black Gully.
They also selected farming land near this site which they continued to farm whilst stripping the surface layer of the puddling claim and washing it in a puddling machine.
In 1866 the oair found a 1.1kg (36oz) nugget which encouraged them to continue their efforts. As history shows, their persistance paid off with the discovery of the "Welcome Stranger", still the largest gold nugget ever found in the world.
How was the 'Welcome Stranger' gold nugget found?
On the morning of Friday 5th February 1869, Deason was breaking up soil on the claim when he hit what seemed to be a stone. After hitting it a second and third time and clearing away the soil with a pick, he saw gold.
The nugget was only 2.5cm (1 inch) below the surface; after clearing away more dirt Deason broke his pick handle in an attempt to lever it from the ground. He finally resorted to a crowbar.
Oates, busy ploughing in his nearby paddock, was called up by Deason's son. Not wanting to create suspicion amongst people living and working nearby, the two miners covered the nugget again and continued as if nothing had happened.
Later that afternoon the nugget was placed in their dray and taken down the hill to the Deason house, The gold was stained black by ironstone deposits and was mixed with a large quantity of quartz. After placing the nugget in the fire, the gold expanded and the quartz became brittle and loose. When the nugget cooled 26kg of quartz was prised off and later crushed in a local battery, belonging to Mr Edward Endey.
Revealing the Find
After keeping the discovery to themselves all weekend Deason and Oates decided to hold a party for their friends on the following Monday. They hid the nugget under a cloth at the end of the table, and at the appropriate moment during the evening they revealed their magnificent prize.
"Don't go home boys" said deason, "That's solid gold and i want you to stay the night and escort it to the bank at Dunolly tomorrow"
Next morning, the nugget was loaded onto Edward Endey's spring cart and the convoy left for Dunolly. Walter Brown, a neighbour, was selected to go into the London Chartered Bank and ask the teller "what are you paying for gold by the hundred weight?", after which the nugget was brought in and presented to the manager.
Weighing and Recording the Nugget
As the nugget was too large to fit on the bank scales, Archie Walls, the blacksmith was called in to cut it into smaller pieces. The total weight of the nugget, including what was obtained from the crushed quartz and other pieces broken off and given away to friends, was estimated at 72.5kg (2332oz). It was considered a shame that in all the excitement no-one thought to photograph the nugget, and the only sketches made were drawn from memory. The photograph shown here was taken at the site later, the finders using a large piece of quartz to represent the nugget.
Life After the Find
Soon after the find, Richard Oates returned to Cornwall, where he married Jane Penrose. He wasted little time in bringing her back to Moliagul and continued to work the claim with Deason. By 1875 it had been worked out and Oates moved with his family to Dunolly. He continued farming, shifting a second time to land in Bealiba
, then later to Woodstock near Bendigo. Richard Oates died in 1906 aged 79, and is buried in the Marong Cemetery.
John Deason continued with mining, having various puddling machines and later a quartz crushing battery. During the depression of the 1890's part of his livelihood came from operating the battery in Moliagul, thus providing great stimulus and encouragement for other miners to sample reefs in the area instead of merely seeking alluvial gold. He invested money in further property, known as The Springs, at Moliagul, and he and his family moved there. His descendants still farm land in Moliagul today. John Deason died in 1915 aged 85 and is buried in the Moliagul Cemetery.
The Goldfields Track
For nature enthusiasts, the Goldfields Track offers a scenic hiking and biking trail that passes through Moliagul. Immerse yourself in the beautiful Australian bushland as you follow in the footsteps of the early gold prospectors.
Dunolly Area Map - Land of the Welcome Stanger
A Golden Behemoth - What was it worth?
The 'Welcome Stranger' wasn't your average gold nugget. Oh no, it was a true behemoth! Heavier than a fully grown kangaroo and me for that matter! Just imagine trying to lift that thing. You'd definitely skip arm day at the gym!
Deason and Oates hit the jackpot, quite literally. They sold the 'Welcome Stranger' for a whopping £9,381, which is equivalent to around $1.5 million today. At todays gold value the nugget would have been worth north of 4 million dollars!
Unleash Your Inner Gold Digger
Nowadays, Moliagul is a treasure trove for history buffs and adventure seekers alike. You can visit the very spot where the 'Welcome Stranger' was discovered and try your luck at finding your own golden nugget. Who knows? Maybe you'll unearth the next record-breaking treasure!