While the exact sizes and weights of gold nuggets can vary slightly depending on the source, below is a list of some of the biggest gold nuggets in Australia:
1. The Welcome Stranger Nugget
Discovered in 1869 near Moliagul, Victoria, this nugget is considered the largest gold nugget ever found, let alone the biggest gold nugget in Australia, weighing approximately 72 kg (2,315 troy ounces).
In the 1850s, thousands of people travelled to Australia in search of their fortune.
They came from across Australia and from around the world, and for most of these people, great wealth was never achieved.
But for two Cornish miners, fortune did come calling on 5 February 1869.
John Deason and Richard Oats were originally tin miners from Cornwall, who emigrated to Australia in 1853 to begin their lives as prospectors in the Victorian Gold Rushes.
In 1862 they arrived in Moliagul, Victoria and after 7 years of just getting by, and hardly making a living, the two men struck gold.
On a slope called Bulldog Gully, an enormous piece of gold encased in quartz was buried just below the surface.
It was so big, that as Mr Deason wrote “I tried to prise the nugget up with the pick, but the handle broke. I then got a crowbar and raised the nugget to the surface”.
They then took the nugget into the town of Dunolly, about 20km away, where it was weighed at the London Chartered Bank.
To get a value of its weight, the nugget was immediately broken up on an anvil at the local blacksmith’s, before it could finally fit on the bank’s scales.
After smelting, it yielded 2,302 oz (about 71 kg) of solid gold.
Deason and Oates shared the fortune of nearly £10,000, which would be roughly about $2 million Australian dollars in today’s money.
If it was still in existence, just its the contained gold would be worth $6.8 million dollars, but, it would sell for multiples of this price, purely because of its rarity and historic value.
2. The Welcome Nugget
Found in 1858 at the Red Hill Mining Company site in Ballarat, Victoria, this nugget weighed around 69 kg (2,217 troy ounces).
In 1857, a party of 22 experienced Cornish copper miners left the south-west of Britain and set out to seek their fortunes in the gold fields of Victoria, Australia.
The group arrived in Melbourne in early 1858 and headed out to Creswick to try their luck.
With nothing to show after 2 months, the party decided to give Ballarat a go!
Initially, for the first few weeks they looked about about the region, trying to find a good location, and then decided to try their luck in one of the abandoned shafts left by disappointed diggers who had gone off to the new Deep Lead mines up on the plateau.
They chose an abandoned shaft near the corner of Mair and Humffray Streets, then known as the Black Hill road.
The men organised themselves into a proper company, which they called the “Red Hill Gold Mining Company”, consisting of twenty-two working shareholders.
It is interesting to note that this was the first company to use a steam engine to haul the wash dirt to the surface.
In March, 1858, they went down to the 180 foot deep shaft and planked up the sides. They sank 20 feet deeper, and came on the Black Hill gutter. They followed this along, getting a little gold.
In May, they had found two nice nuggets, one weighing 45 ounces and the other12 ounces, plus a few smaller nuggets.
These gold discoveries had added to their gold fever, and they divided themselves into three shifts, and so were able to keep the work going for twenty-four hours every day.
On the evening of the 9th June, the evening shift was busy digging away.
The day shift had eaten crib (dinner) and crawled into their bunks for their well-earned sleep.
At 7.30pm, one of the miners found his pick had struck something hard. At first he thought
it was just a lump of stone.
But soon, his eyes caught a glimpse of gold. He yelled to his fellow miners to help him.
Between them they gradually drew out of the clay a huge lump of gold.
For half an hour they sweated, levering the monster nugget into the cage where it was pulled to the surface, where they told their sleeping partners.
We can only imagine the excitement of these sleepy Cornishmen as they throw on clothes and rushed over to mine shaft.
The happy Cornishmen are rumoured to have sat up all night, feasting their eyes on their precious find.
They got some bottles of beer and christened it the Welcome Nugget.
Next morning it was levered up into a wheel barrow, and diggers going to work were thrilled to see a procession of twenty-two men escorting to the Treasury in Lydiard street this golden giant.
At the Ballarat Treasury it weighed in at 2,217 ounces (68.95 kilograms).
In the Ballarat “Miner” of 11th June, there was an advertisement stating that the Welcome Nugget would be exhibited in town with admission being 1 penny. All of the proceeds to aid the Miners’ Hospital.
Hundreds of people came to see “The wonder of the world” lying proudly on a background of rich black velvet. Every mother was allowed to put her baby astride the nugget, in the hope the child would be assured a lucky future.
An enterprising firm of gold buyers, the Witkowski Brother’s bought the nuggets for 10,050 pounds, and exhibited it to crowds in Melbourne. For a fee of course!
In the Melbourne press of 9th August, 1858, was an advertisement, and I quote “the Welcome Nugget”, the “Nil Desperandum Nugget” and other beautiful specimens of Ballarat gold would be on exhibition”
Once the Witkowski Browsers had finished, it was on-sold and eventually taken to London, and exhibited in the Crystal Palace.
Finally, in November, 1859. it was taken to the London Mint and melted down and made into gold sovereigns.
A granite monolith, on the corner of Mair and Humffray Streets, Ballarat, mark the site of the finding of this monster nugget.
3. Hand of Faith
Unearthed in 1980 near Kingower, Victoria, this gold nugget weighs 27.2 kg (875 troy ounces) and is the largest gold nugget found using a metal detector.
4. Poseidon Nugget
Discovered in 1906 in the Tarnagulla area, Victoria, this nugget weighed about 29.6 kg (953 troy ounces).
5. The “Golden Eagle” Nugget
Found in 1931 near Widgiemooltha, Western Australia, this nugget weighed approximately 32.2 kg (1,136 troy ounces).
In 1931, a remarkable discovery was made in Larkinville by a young man named Larcombe. The ‘Golden Eagle’ nugget, the largest nugget found in Western Australia at the time, was unearthed, causing a national sensation. The nugget, weighing 1,135 oz 15 dwt and measuring 26½ x 11½ x 2½ inches, was found on a plot of land previously abandoned by a man named Bill Sheehan. The nugget had been hidden beneath a road leading to Mickey Laskin’s camp, unknowingly driven over by locals for months. When Larcombe discovered the nugget, his ecstatic yell attracted other diggers to the site, where they found him struggling with a massive slab of gold. The nugget was so heavy that it was weighed against a bag of sugar on a pole, easily lifting the 60-lb bag, giving the onlookers a rough estimate of its weight.
Jim Larcombe, the father of the young discoverer, was a seasoned prospector and the President of the Coolgardie Prospectors’ and Leaseholders’ Association. He had spent almost his entire adult life on various goldfields, having first arrived in Coolgardie when he was only 9 years old. His son, who had joined him on the cliam only 5 weeks before he discoverd the massive nugget. The pair had almost given up on the area until a 70-ounce slug of gold was found on a nearby plot the previous Friday, which renewed their determination to continue digging.
The ‘Golden Eagle’ nugget was initailly taken to Coolgardie and then after some discussions, the gold nuggets was sold to the WA Government.
6. The Pride of Australia
Did you know, way back in 1981, this impressive gold nugget called the ‘Pride of Australia’ was discovered in a place called Mosquito Gully, up in Beggary Hills, just a bit north of Wedderburn, Victoria? Oh, but there’s a twist in this story. This chunk of gold was showcased at the Museum Victoria and guess what happened in 1992? Someone managed to steal it! And the crazy part is, it’s still missing, never been found again!
7. The Viscount Canterbury Nugget
Discovered in 1870 near Dunolly, Victoria, this nugget weighed approximately 37.5 9 kg (1150 troy ounces).
8. Lady Loch Nugget
Found in 1887 near Wedderburn, Victoria, this nugget weighed about 19.1kg (617 troy ounces).
9. The Blanche Barkly Nugge
Discovered in 1857 near Kingower, Victoria, this nugget weighed 1734 troy ounces.
In August 1857, Robert and James Ambrose and Samuel and Charles Napier discovered the nugget, which at that time was the world’s largest gold nugget, weighing in at 1743 ounces.
Sam Napier reported that it was taken to England and displayed at The Crystal Palace, that the British Museum made a replica, and that it was ultimately bought by the Bank of England for around £12,000 (equivalent to £1,397,821 in 2021) and melted down to make around 10,000 sovereign
10. The Little Hero Nugget
Unearthed in 1890 in the Shaw Falls, near Roebourne Victoria, this nugget weighed approximately 25.9 kg (833 troy ounces).
These nuggets represent just a fraction of the gold discoveries in Australia, which has a rich history of gold mining and continues to be a major producer of the precious metal.
I hope you enjoyed that list of the 10 Biggest Gold Nuggets in Australia