Sunday, 2 July 2017

How to make a small fortune

19-25th June

So another year comes and so does another attempt at finding some Yellow. Meeting John at the leisurely hour of 9am, because we are not travelling as far this year, we headed off to the Bakehaus at Bindoon, to meet the third of the Party, Bruce. Bruce was coming from further South, via a different route to us, so the Bakehaus made the perfect meeting point. And I got to have a coffee and breakfast whilst we waited.

Stopping for fuel at Wubin, we had another 100 odd Km's before we turned off onto the dirt for a week of hunting for precious mineral:

An interesting article on Gold can be found here:


I was given a lead earlier in the year where some alluvial had been found. As time drew near, I wrote to the tenement holder seeking permission. I never received a reply from that. Lucky for me, I also wrote to another tenement holder nearby, and they gave us the permission to have a look around their exploration lease. A big thank you goes out to Minjar Gold for allowing us to have a look around their lease.

So the die was cast.

Another 50 or so Km's on, we then turned onto a mining track to seek our camp for the week. Having a spot marked that we spied on Google Earth about 6 Km up, it wasn't that impressive, so we went exploring. About 2Km South of that spot, we found a suitable place to camp up for the week. Although I was quite alarmed at the amount of vegetation. Pushing through this with a detector would be very hard work indeed:

Whilst making camp, or more likely, having a beer by the fire, John went off in search of some way points he had marked, some 600m away. When he returned, he said he had found an old shaft and the country opened up considerably. That was great news to hear. A relaxing night by the fire and we all retired to noddy land for the evening.

I surprised John the next morning, being up before sunrise. Unfortunately Bruce had issues with his hand held GPS. These issues we never resolved for the trip. This would put Bruce on the back foot, because there is no way you can venture into this country without GPS. Not if you want to return that is. So he had to stick to visual navigation, which meant he couldn't venture into the scrub like John and myself did. A late start after some coffee and breakfast, John lead the way, through the thick scrub where he showed us the mine he found yesterday:

lots of open ground was presented  to us, so we all headed off in different directions, with radio contact to make our fortunes.We would use this mine as our meeting point when we worked the area. A few hours in and we returned to Ground Zero (GZ) to swap tales of all the junk we had found. We hadn't found a lot in all reality, which in some ways is a bonus. But a nice piece of yella wouldn't go astray. The hair thin pieces of wire, about 10mm in length was a pain. I found a few of these over the week. Also, digging a fair hole for a target turning out to be a can lid was depressing:

A small rest and a bite to eat, we headed out again to make our fortunes. the ground showed promise:

 But it wasn't to be. Returning to GZ, it wasn't to be for the others either. So we made the 600m trek back to camp where John proceeded to cook a roast. Having half a lamb, he fed the lot of us. Thanks mate, it was delicious:

Over breakfast the following morning, we decided the ground we worked yesterday looked good and we should return. More so because it was open. There was no way you could detect most of the ground in this area, the vegetation just being so thick. Open ground was good but I was unsure. Whilst there were some nice patches of quartz, there was also a lot of banded iron and iron stone about. Not that I'm an expert, but I think there was just too much iron for good alluvial finds.

So we made our way to GZ and set up for another day of detecting. I decided I would push on for the base of a hill to the West. At first the ground was open, then the vegetation started. Ducking and weaving, trying to find a clear path was a chore. And bugger me, a good Km from GZ, on the slope of a hill full of vegetation, I found evidence that someone had detected before me. Its got me beat. No matter how far you venture, you always find evidence of someone being here before you. Its bloody amazing.

So I returned to GZ to meet the others. A bite to eat and John said he would show us some more workings he had found in the morning stint close by:

Lots of hand dug holes here. The trench above was impressive, that would have taken some work. We mused on what made them dig there in the first place. Had there been alluvial finds here in days long gone?  We decided to return to camp and take the vehicles for a drive to assess the territory. Bruce's car needed a run anyway. He was running a fridge, on one battery, with no capacity to recharge it.

So off exploring we go. First stop was the breakaway where we were supposed to camp at:

And then we checked some old activity nearby. I was planning to head up to a couple of inactive mines I had marked up by Chullar Hill, about 20Km's away. That hill can be seen clear as day from the breakaway:

Along station tracks we go, coming to an old bore:

The sign on the stock holding fence proving they are a funny bunch out here:

Continuing on, we came to an active mine site and had to cross their haul road. The tracks on my maps don't quite match the route we are travelling, no doubt, changed by the recent mining activity. It's now 1530 in the afternoon and I'm worried about getting back to camp in time. So we can the idea of old mines exploration and head South for camp. We come to the junction of the Midday track. Bruce wasn't keen - he reckoned it was overgrown. Apart from a couple of acacia's at the start, it looked fine to me, so we ventured on. Camp only being some 11Km away. Unfortunately we only made 650m on this track before it closed in. So a complex turn around manoeuvre had us going back the way we came. So our 11Km shortcut got turned into a 26Km back over the same ground grind. We arrived back to camp just before dark and proceeded to get dinner on the way. Another nice night by the fire with desert from John - lemon crisp biscuits. You must thank your wife for that, it was a great choice.

Our third day on the ground, we headed South from camp in the cars looking for ground. Coming across some interesting stuff, we parked up - in the shadows of another old working. I headed East for some 750m. Coming down a hill full of ironstone, I reached the flats where in times lots of water flowed. After a couple of hours with no prospects, I decided to head back to the car. Just in time too, the weather was changing rapidly and it looked like rain. I just made it to the car before the first sprinkles set in. That's as bad as it got though. The wind was certainly increasing and the cloud looked ominous.

John had a find on the track, close to the car. It took him a bit just to get it out the hole, then he had to find it. I tried to tell him, on a track, adjacent to old workings was not a good sign. But he followed through (as one should)

That event was recorded here:

Funny as.......not!

For the second stint, I made my way towards the boundary of an existing lease. Once off the hill the ground showed reasonable prospect. But again, the precious stuff alluded me. With the cloud now pouring in, I made my way back to the car.

Returning to camp at a decent hour, I got the camp oven under way. Yet another bloody roast. We had 3 roasts in total on this trip:

And whilst the weather was threatening, we only got 3 small showers...that lasted all of a couple of minutes for each. Perth had been hammered, so we dodged a bullet.

The fourth day on the ground, and we were getting a little disheartened. We took the cars out again. I mentioned that track that passed by GZ must come off the main track. We headed out to the main road and came across what was obviously either an old miners camp, station workings or both. Evidence of cans suggest to me old mining camps. Evidence of ruined buildings suggest station outposts. So I believe it's a combination of both:

We crossed to the other side in search of ground. Lots of rubbish here would make detecting a pain, so we head back North . With a bit of looking around and we found the track which passed GZ. We proceeded past the old workings (GZ) and ventured a bit further North, again stopping at some good looking ground. But alas, we came home empty handed.

Bruce, being stuck to the track having no GPS found a lot. A lot of nails, tacks and other assorted bits of junk. John and myself remarked on the lack of wildlife. We saw no evidence of anything other than birds. Even their scats were few and far between. Though this brings the detectorist some advantage. No wildlife = no bullets.

John remarked by the campfire, he had decided to leave a day early. He would go home solo tomorrow. Bruce and myself would stay another day as planned.

John departed about 0930 whilst myself and Bruce went in search of ground. I had noted some interesting looking ground out by the main road, so out there we went. On the way I decided to stop in on a mining lease, which was about 2km from our camp. I was surprised to see an active site, some boys on the drill rig hard at work:

Although there was no "no entry" signs anywhere, we didn't hang around. We didn't want a warning shot over our heads. I'm sure if we were sighted they would have been not to happy. Such is the breed out in these parts.

Back to the track which leads to the main road, I spotted some old workings, so we ventured in to investigate. Wow, a lot of work had been done hear some time ago. A hand dug trench about 1.5m in width at the top, going some 50m in length with a depth of about 10m. Bloody hell, I thought the trench near GZ would be hard work. This was something else again. And around this trench was a few other shafts that had been dug.

But sight seeing was not our main aim, so we found some ground out off the main road and once again, unsuccessfully prospected for a couple of hours. Then proceeding back to camp, again on some nice open ground, we had our last stint for this trip. The yellow was elusive. We came back to our last campfire richer for the experience but not for mineral wealth. I'm starting to set a trend here and I need to get this monkey off my back.

Lucky for us, John had brought some prior found samples for us to google over, or we would never have seen any:

Having to water the plants at 0330, I decided to have a crack at some star trail photography with the GoPro. Unfortunately, with both phone and GoPro batteries flat, I had to gin around for about an hour before I retired back to the swag. I let it do its stuff. Set on 30 second exposure and continuous night shooting mode, the GoPro took lots of pictures.

And I got some interesting results on reviewing the recording once home. First up, I plugged in a power bank to keep the camera running. For some reason, this didn't work and the GoPro battery went flat whilst the powerbank didn't discharge. So I have one problem to look into. Secondly, I think if you are to dabble in this, you need some lit background as all you really see is little dots moving around a black sky. It needs some reference. But I also lucked in. The camera stopped recording just before dawn. This allowed the foreground and sky to be lit. Using some software to compile the images together and form the start rail I managed to get this remarkable shot.

Beginners luck I reckon. But it showed me why I need some partially lit background. I will definitely try this again.

The compiled images made the following clip:

So with coffee done it was time to pack for home. On the track out at 0930, I told Bruce I would wait at every turn off point so he didn't get lost. With no GPS nor UHF he would need my guidance. The plan was to head to Watheroo and have lunch at the pub.

Hitting the main road, I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more. After 15 minutes with no sign of Bruce, something must be wrong. The track was only 6Kn long after all. So I ventured back up in search of him. Only 500m up, he rounded a corner, flashing his lights. Bout time! So I reversed into the bush to turn around. Bruce came up to my window. Yep, he had an issue....Bugger.

Upon leaving camp, he realised he left his camp mug behind, so he reversed back to grab it. Straight into a tree....Grrrrr

He was not a happy man, as one would expect. A damaged bumper, tailgate and rear canopy window shattered into thousands of pieces. Worst of all, we had all this dirt to travel and the back of his ute would hoover this dust, straight into his tub. So we made the only decision. We canned the pub. The least amount of gravel was the way we came in 7 days ago.

You had to feel sorry for the bloke. I scratched his car (once again) and now he had all this damage to sort out. Worst of all, he was planned to go away again the next week and this damage would make that journey a chore.

Arriving in Wubin, we got our first real phone coverage for a week. Txt messages going off, one was from John. He too had some adventures. 5 minutes from home (which was a lucky break for him), the car started bellowing black smoke. He got the camper trailer in the driveway but that was the end of the ranger. Certainly wasn't a great trip vehicle wise:

3K later, with new injectors the ranger lives another day. I haven't heard back from Bruce how he has got on yet.

So another week long adventure has been completed. Not the way we would have liked, but oh well, at least we were not at work!

So how do you make a small fortune? Well, you start off with a large fortune and take up prospecting. That should turn your large fortune small in no time.

Trip Stats:

6 nights under canvas
920km travelled
107L fuel used
for an average of  11.7 L/100Km
cost of fuel $133
camp fees nil

With Yeagerup, The Anne Beadell, logue Brook Dam, Mukka and now Ninghan complete, (some of those trips not reported here) the running tally so far this year is 27 nights under canvas. It will be a few months now before I can add to the tally.

And the trip video can be seen below:



  1. Thanks for another great read and pic's, never a dull moment.
    Plate's look good too.