If you visit the Australian town of Dunolly today, you’ll probably run into more than a few modern-day prospectors hoping to strike it rich with their metal detectors. There’s a good reason gold seekers still descend upon the town. Just ten miles away lies the site of the discovery of the largest solid gold nugget ever found.
Head northwest out of Dunolly and you’ll soon come to the precise site of the find: Black Lead in Bulldog Gully, which is marked today by an obelisk commemorating the discovery. In 1869, two veteran prospectors — John Deason and Richard Oates — were excavating the area with pickaxes and shovels. Deason and Oates had been in the prospecting game for a while and had even found several large nuggets in the area. But nothing could have prepared them for what happened on the afternoon of February 5.
Deason had been working near the root of a tree when his mining pick struck something hard. Believing he had to dig out a boulder from the rocky ground before continuing, he bent down to get a closer look. Instead of a worthless boulder, Deason found what came to be called the Welcome Stranger nugget.
Taking It to the Bank
The two prospectors dug out their massive find and brought it to the town of Dunolly and the London Chartered Bank. Because there was no scale big enough to measure the nugget, it was quickly broken down into three pieces with a sledgehammer and a chisel so that it could be more easily weighed, transported, and eventually melted down.
Reports vary as to the exact size and weight of the nugget. While the standard weight mentioned in most publications is 2,284 Troy ounces (about 157 pounds), a publication from the Department of Mines in Victoria states that the weight of the Welcome Stranger nugget was 2,280 Troy ounces. Either way, there is no disagreement about the fact that this was by far the largest solid gold nugget ever discovered.
Sadly, no photos exist of the historic event, but it’s easy to imagine the faces of John Deason and Richard Oates, which probably had the largest smiles the world has ever known.
Want to learn more about gold? Interested in buying or selling gold coins or gold bullion? Just stop by Liberty Coin & Currency. While we don’t typically have any 150-pound gold nuggets in stock, we do have an extensive collection of gold bullion and gold coins, as well as silver bullion, rare coins and domestic and foreign currency.
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