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All the following stories of mine are true, with maybe a
tiny bit of exaggeration! I am not a good story teller so I have to tell my stories just
as they happened .
But I'm sure you guys out there can do a lot better and have some amazing yarns, humorous bush stories etc. I would like to include here stories from all over the world. If you have a true story you don't mind sharing with the rest of the world please email it to me but try to keep it as short as possible. There is no need to worry about grammar and spelling but try to make it as amusing or interesting as possible with a good description of the locality, surroundings, climate at the time etc. so readers can get a good feel for the circumstances under which it took place.
A friend from England has been doing a few cartoons of me and my sister - they are really good! Check them out at http://www.janetcartoons.co.uk
The newest stories will now be placed here at the beginning!
New The finding of the
Golden Stonefish story is on this page
New The Bear Hug Nugget story
A True Story from the Mt Browne Goldfield by Doug
Every Easter for the last 8 years my mate Barry and I have travelled from Dubbo NSW to Mt. Browne in the Quest for Gold. Mt. Browne is the ideal place to prospect with a very large shearing shed, ample shearers quarters, laundry, hot showers (when the fire is lit) and 2 outside corrugated iron toilets (dunnies!) .. Like I said, an ideal place to prospect.
One night after tea I wandered down to one of the toilets for the constitutional.
black I carried a torch (lucky for me I did) I walked in closed the door lifted the seat dropped my duds, quick check that there was some date rolls (jobs not over until the paperwork's done).
I was just about to sit when something caused me to shine the torch into the bowl.
I was pissed off that someone before me had not flushed so I pushed the button imagine my
when what I thought was crap reared up about 6'' or so.
I slammed the lid closed, pulled up my pants, and called out to my mates to come and have a look at this! At first they thought it was some sort of a twisted joke, but after much cajoling on my part they finally came down to have a look. I opened the lid and there it was still rearing up trying to
get out but not making any headway. The commotion that we were creating brought up a couple of blokes who were camped down near the showers. One was an amateur photographer and after a lengthy time double checking all the angles ........ don't forget there are now 5 blokes all trying to fit into the toilet! ........ there were more torches than an Olympic games opening!....... and the snake
was really getting agitated.
After about 20 minutes or so and lots of suggestions about how to tackle the situation (alcohol had probably dulled our capacity to react quicker than that!) our budding cameraman heads off at a fast trot, he was not a young man but was about 6' tall so his trot was at a pretty fair pace. We had promised not to try and extract the snake until he returned.
Well, we waited and waited, had a few more cans and decided to proceed without him. I stood on the bowl and held the torch. Barry fetched a long handled shovel and Mark readied a smaller shovel, next time the snake reared up he was pinned with one shovel and his head was severed with the other. I realise that snakes are protected but a snake in the toilet was a very dangerous situation.
Well, we are all standing around the snakes corpse enjoying another ale when our budding cameraman finally turned up. He was as white as a ghost, covered in dirt and could hardly talk. It transpired that one of the female campers, a very short lady camped well away in a caravan, had raced over to the clothesline and thinking everyone was in bed lowered the clothesline to retrieve some washing she had forgotten. When our photographer had come to the toilet the line was up, but when he had gone running back, it was lowered, and he coathangered himself..... It lifted both his feet in the air, flipped him head over heels and sent him crashing to the ground where he lay stunned for about 10 minutes. Needless to say the only photos that were taken were of the dead snake.
We found out later that his car was broken into and his camera stolen.
The snake must have climbed onto the toilet after the small green frogs that hop
around the rim of the toilet seeking the moist conditions, and had simply slipped in.
Cheers Doug "Ironbark" Back
THE DREAM (by Digger Bob from California)
The weekend of the Reno Gold show was finally here. Id been looking forward to this weekend for months because it had been several years since it had been held in Reno. I love browsing around the exhibits to see what new toys were available. Its also a chance to renew old acquaintances that I only get to see once a year. While swapping stories about the past years adventures and eavesdropping on conversations, I can usually pick up a tip or two on technique or location. And this year was no exception. My only regret was that it was too short. I didnt have time to thoroughly absorb everything since the second highlight of the weekend was fast approaching.
By 1:00 it was time to hit the road for the first nugget hunting trip of the year into northern Nevada. It was mid-March and a bit early in the year to chance the unpredictable weather of the high desert. But the weatherman was guessing only a 50% chance of rain, snow, wind, and lows in the 20s. So Reno Jim and I took off to try our luck at the old stomping grounds of "The Patch". (Need I say more? Well, I wont)
Everyone who knows this place knows that it has been pounded by everyone and his dog with every kind of detector made. But 20 years of hunting has not exhausted all its secrets since it is such a huge area. Last year we had found a new hillside that produced a few small ones for us and we had been anxiously awaited the coming spring to give it a more thorough going over.
A late start resulted in us getting there and setting up just before dark, so we got no hunting in that day. The next day dawned cold and clear so we quickly geared up and headed out. Eight hours later we returned tired, sore, scratched, and hungry. And needless to say, with empty pokes. We both hunted hard up and down the hill, sideways, over the next hill and the next. Yet besides a couple of bullets, we had gotten no signals at all.
That evening we discussed our options for the next day. Jim had to go into town early to pick up a friend who wanted to see what nugget hunting was all about. We decided to hunt here for the next half-day and then ride our quads over to another area a few miles away and see if we could change our luck.
Sitting around the campfire at the end of a hard day with cold one in hand is the second best part of these trips. This is the stuff that dreams are made of. Gazing at the stars, counting satellites, contemplating the mysteries of life, reliving past glories, wondering what it would be like to hit the lottery or find that big nugget you could retire on Ive always said that the best part of treasure hunting is the hunt itself, not the finding. Its the research, the mystery, second guessing human and Mother Nature. And always dreaming dreaming of the big score. Its imagination that powers these detectors boys and girls, not batteries.
As I drifted off to sleep that night, the dreams continued. Its funny how the mind works when asleep. It sorts through the places you just hunted, analyses your technique and plants suggestions in your subconscious for a plan of action for the next day. I dreamed I heard noises outside and perceived the greying light of a new day. Jim was getting an early start to go into town. I put on the coffee and was soon up and around myself. It was chilly and overcast but looked to be a decent day. By 7:00 Jim had left and I was ready to give it another go for a few hours.
I trudged up the hillside out of camp and started hunting. With no conscious thought for direction or plan of attack, I just started swinging and walking still in a dream. I came to a small wash and started working my way up it. Trying to avoid the polka-dot boot prints of the previous day, I detected the bank and top of the wash. Giving a wide berth to a rusted kerosene can in the middle of the wash, I plodded on, lost in thought and trying to warm up. I came to a "Y" where two small washes came together.
"Which way? Right or left?"
There was another kerosene can further up the right wash so I decided, "What the hell? Maybe Ill get a trash signal and the digging will warm me up."
I was about 10 feet up the wash hunting the bank, when something happened.
What happened was the detector made a sound!
Now those of you who use these SD machines with the mono loops know that they are prone to making random odd sounds. Whether it is ground minerals, electrical interference, brushing a stick, airplanes flying over, sunspots, static electricity, or leprechauns, the machines wheeze and wah, boink, bing and oo-gah with regularity.
This was one of those sounds. Just a small drop and then increase in the threshold like a low growl. Usually, you get so used to these sounds that you just keep going, not even giving it a second sweep. But it was early in the day and there hadnt been any of these so far, so my brain wasnt tuning them out yet.
Taking a half step back just for a second, I swung over the spot again grrrROWell. Hmmmm still there and it didnt track out. Several swings to pinpoint it and "yep, that sounds like a real target." Not a good signal but enough to take a second to check it out.
Glancing about, I noticed the kerosene can 20 ft. ahead of me up the wash.
"Oh right." I said to myself, "I know what this is. A piece of that damm can has washed down and buried itself in the bottom of the wash."
Still though, the signal was more in the hard bank rather than the soft dirt of the wash. And my fingers were cold and I was still a little stiff and "half" asleep, so I decided, "What the heck, a little digging to warm me up will feel good."
So down I go. Dig, dig, scoop, scoop, swing, swing. Ah, getting louder! Definitely a target, not ground. Down 12 inches, then 16. Still there and louder yet.
"Must be another whole can down there," I muttered.
Now, Im down past the limit my pick can go and its still in the hole. Or is it? Crap, Ill bet its in the side and I just missed it. So, I break out my Vibra Probe pinpointer and run it around the sides of the hole. Nothing.
"Well, these things dont get much depth anyway. Lets see if theres anything in the bottom."
I stuck the probe into the very bottom and ran it around when suddenly, "Bzzzzz-Bzzzzz." Ah, so there is something there after all. But I cant dig any deeper without widening the hole and by now Im plenty warmed up. Should I just leave it? Its just a piece of iron
Naw, Ive spent 20 minutes on this stupid thing. Might as well finish. After all, its only about an inch deeper. So I stuck the handle of my pick down in the hole and scrubbed it around trying to loosen things up a bit. Reaching down up to my elbow, I claw and scoop up the dirt and rocks with my fingertips. I look down and notice the tip of a rock imbedded in the bottom. Its rough but with just a little smoothness on the high points. And the color its a little different from the grey-brown of the rest of the rocks. It has a little orange-red tinge.
"Ah, red, rust. There it is. Theres my can."
But theres no rusty halo around it I wonder
And then I did something that I will remember the rest of my life
I licked my finger, stuck it way down in that hole, and rubbed the edge of that rusty rock.
As soon as I did that, my jaw dropped, I gasped for air, and my eyes literally popped open!
At that moment I wasnt sure. I couldnt take my eyes off the yellow gleam of the edge of that rock. I unconsciously looked up to call Jim over and just as quickly realized I was alone and yes, by now wide-awake.
And then I woke up or did I?
I looked down and rubbed it again. Its still there! I was too stunned to move. I could tell it was a big one, but how big? What I could see was about an inch across. What do I do now? No one will believe me. Pictures! Ive got to get some pictures!
I dropped my gear and ran back to camp for my camera, all the way muttering "ohcrapohcrapohcrapohcrap"! After nervously snapping a few shots and praying they would turn out, I turned my attention back to the hole. I briefly considered waiting for Jim to get back to see what I saw, but just as quickly decided that I couldnt wait!
I widened the hole enough to get part of my pick down there and began quickly but gingerly chipping away at the surrounding dirt. My fingers were numb with cold and excitement and I didnt even notice I was cutting and tearing up my fingertips clawing at the dirt and rocks.
Soon I had enough exposed that I could get a good grip on it with the fingers of both hands. A two handed grip and it still wouldnt move! Holy Crap! How big is this thing? Just then I was struck with a depressing thought.
"I know what it is. Its a big chunk of quartz with a little gold gob on the end. Oh well, no need to be careful then."
So I got a little more aggressive with chipping and digging. At one point I even pried up on it with the point of my pick and got it to move a little. But I quickly thought better of that nonsense and stopped. But I was making progress. Little by little, I could wiggle it up and down and side to side. Pulling and wiggling I was terrified I might break or bend or gouge it, but I couldnt stop! Could this, finally, be the dream come true? After almost 20 years of chasing that dream, could I actually be holding that dream in my trembling bleeding fingers?
Suddenly, it pulled free! But Mother Nature had one more cruel trick to play before she relinquished final ownership. Her release was so sudden that I lost my balance and fell over backwards flat on my ass. And of course, I dropped it in the hole to catch myself. Scrambling back, ignoring the dust, rocks, and stickers, I peered back down into the hole.
My God, it was big! I reached down and wrapped a scarred hand around it and lifted it for my first good look. My God, its heavy too! Brushing away the dirt revealed yellow, yellow everywhere!
This couldnt be real. I was holding a solid piece of gold as big as my palm. The dream had actually come true. I was so stunned I couldnt move, speak, or think. I just sat there in the dirt staring at my hand.
Yes, I was awake now
After the initial shock wore off, my next thoughts were unbelievably, "How am I going to tell Jim? Hes either going to kill me or die of a heart attack."
So without a bit of cleaning, I slipped the rock into my pocket and leaving all my gear there, walked slowly back to camp. I needed a drink! And it wasnt even 9:00 yet! Off in the distance I could see the dust trail coming of two vehicles. Still not knowing what I was going to say, I just sat down on my quad and waited.
When he pulled up, he stuck his head out the window and casually asked, "Get anything?"
Not having thought of anything clever to say, I just held up one finger. He said, "You got one? Good! Any size?"
Still stunned speechless, all I could do was give him a single thumbs up. At this he rolled his eyes and said, "Oh God, here we go. You mustve found a half-ouncer or something! OK, lets see it."
I said, "Lets wait till your buddy gets here." He wasnt too happy about that.
When they had both gathered around, and still with no conscious speech in mind, I just said to his buddy:
"Tom, first of all, what Im about to show you is not typical of your average nugget hunting trip. Ive just made the find of a lifetime and youre not likely to see anything like this again outside of a museum. And Jim ol buddy, after 20 years of hunting together, I hate to do this to you. I just wish you were here to see it happen. And Im more sorry you werent here so I could say what Ive always wanted to say "Jim, I need a bigger film canister!"
And with that I pulled the rock out of my pocket....
What followed were various blasphemous curses, holy praises, sputterings, adulations, and expressions of disbelief and wonder. The culmination was a hard smack on the back of my head, which I was expecting. Thats a tradition with us. The finder of big nuggets gets a smack on the head and has to buy everyone else in the group milkshakes back at town. The bigger the nugget, the harder the smack.
I was trying to tell the story but kept getting interrupted by questions. I finally gave up and said, "Come on, Ill show you. Weve got to take some pictures anyway."
And so, thats pretty much the end of the story. We found no more gold in that area after covering it again for another two days. We have been back several times since and have only found one more small one in the area. Still it was a day Ill never forget and yes, the dream lives one! There are still bigger ones out there for all of us and for as long as you are able, pursue that dream. It just might come true.....................
Ok, here are the details...
weight...326 gms. = 10.5 oz. with about an oz. of quartz scattered throughout. Gives it some nice character;-)
depth...approx. 20 inches
machine...GP Extreme with Minelab 11" mono loop
Name...for lack of anything better... "The Growler"
.........................................Lake Calamity! by Janet
I had vowed never to do it again, but I weakened and agreed to go on another prospecting trip with my sister! Anyone who knows Evelyn is aware that she is a bit of a walking disaster area, but a trip with her is, needless to say, an experience! All the following incidents happened in just one two-week trip last December.
This time Evelyn had it in her mind to go to a more remote salt lake (hereafter named Lake Calamity!) where she promised me that from a rumour she had heard (several years previously of course!) we were sure to find heaps of big nuggets!!! Why I got sucked in I will never know, maybe my life was getting a bit dull at the time or maybe it was the lure of gold, but isnt this just how innocent people such as myself are led astray and end up getting into all sorts of trouble? :o)
With our previous trip together still fresh in my memory I was determined to avoid
any misfortunes this time and insisted on doing the map work and leading the way! At least
we wouldnt get lost!
If only I had known! :o(
The temperatures were exceptionally high for December! It had been a year of severe weather conditions including a long drought.
It didnt take us long before we had our first argument about where to make
camp. In fact we would spend hours debating (guys would call it arguing!) the
merits of various campsites shade, angle of sun, wind direction, wind protection,
distance from lake
the list was endless! In fact, I think we spent more time doing
this than detecting! It was a good job there wasnt a guy with us, as he would have
been tearing his hair out
if he had any! This time Evelyn favoured a rocky place with
meagre shade; I favoured a position under some big shady eucalyptus trees. I won out this
time but this campsite was a real fire hazard as there was a thick layer of leaves on the
Then we argued about whether to light a fire. Evelyn insisted on walking miles in the full sun and scorching heat well away from the leaves to light her bonfire to boil the billy. I stayed in the shade and used my small gas stove, which she claimed was an even worse fire hazard! In fact she banned me from using it but when she wasnt looking (i.e. walking out into the fierce midday sun to light her fire) I would sneak in a quick cup of tea. Of course she soon realised what I was doing. I was using it on the tailgate of my vehicle and thought it was a lot safer than lighting a fire in such strong hot winds. I began to dread Evelyns bonfires as I could visualize a catastrophe, but thankfully, the long walk in the hot blistering sun to light a fire soon got to her and it wasnt long before she gave in and started coming over to my camp to use my stove . much to my relief!
We decided we had to find better camp sites after this one but they actually got worse as the trip progressed.
It was near here that Evelyn found an old iron framed camp bed in the bush, which she carried on her roof rack and used for the rest of the trip, sleeping out under the stars. I continued to put a tent up every night.
Now I have to admit to being partly responsible for this catastrophe! I thought
the lake would be bone dry after the long drought and we would be able to drive safely all
along the edge of it. The plan was that I would lead the way as if I got bogged with my
4-cylinder vehicle it was lighter and less powerful than my sisters heavier 6
cylinder Landrover and easier for her to pull me out than vice versa. We had been driving
all morning, stopping here and there to detect but the temperatures were gradually
mounting and detecting was becoming more and more of an effort. I was leading the way
again around a bend when I felt my wheels getting a bit slippery so I decided to travel
over the sand dunes instead. That was when I stalled my vehicle. My sister behind me got
impatient and drove around me and kept going along the edge of the lake. By the time I
caught up with her she was in the middle of a channel area and bogged! Her
back wheels had sunk down to the axle. She was carrying a heavy load of water, fuel and
food in the back and if she had gone another few feet forward she would have been in
serious trouble as ahead was bottomless, black slimy mud.
We soon found out that there was no way my vehicle was going to pull hers out. I didnt think this bogging was too serious really as I am getting used to these situations! But my sister was panicky about spinning her wheels and sinking even deeper. We started to argue about how to tackle the problem but it was too hot to argue for long so I backed off, sat down and let her take charge. It was midday and there was no shade. The real problem we had was that the temperature had now risen to about 44 degrees C!
The strong continuous north wind was like a blast furnace. Every action required extreme effort and we had to drink continuously, already totally exhausted from detecting all morning. The dogs quickly took refuge from the sun under my vehicle but they too were suffering from the baking conditions.
I watched as my sister took down her high-lift jack and as soon as I knew her plan I started digging out the mud from the wheels and from underneath the axle. But with the extreme heat it wasnt long before we both started to feel ill. With every movement my heart was pounding and Evelyn was so bad she was getting dizzy and had to keep sitting down. I looked up at the developing clouds and urged her on. If we were caught in a storm we would never get the Landrover out. Again and again she tried to jack the wheels up so that I could put branches under them but the jack slipped and sunk in the mud. We had both forgotten to bring blocks of wood and tried various substitutes! The only solution in the end after an hour of frustration with the jack repeatedly slipping sideways was to use the lid off my camp oven. It was not ideal but the best we had. Even then there was a problem with the jack which kept jamming.
I hate these high-lift jacks as I nearly broke my wrist once trying to use one, so I left this job to Evelyn!It was a painfully slow process as each wheel was raised inch by inch and made more difficult by the metal tools becoming red hot in the sun.
I did most of the shovel work and gathering of wood to put under the wheels.Of course there is never any decent wood around when you get bogged! Here there were only small bushes. Trying to break off these bushes and carry them back was an enormous effort in the heat and strong wind. I would gather a pile and then have to hold on tight to it otherwise it would be whisked out of my arms before I could get it back to the bogged vehicle. The constant thirst was incredible with the hot wind continuously dehydrating us. I think we were both on the verge of heat stroke. We had to keep at it though as the storm on the horizon was getting closer.
Finally after about two hours toil which seemed more like eternity, we came
to the big test! It was a very anxious moment for both of us. All the wheels were jacked
up with branches under them and we had unloaded a lot of the weight. Amazingly, the
slippery mud on the tyres had already dried solid. This time my vehicle pulled it out
easily. In the jubilation I forgot my camp oven lid! It is still there somewhere in the
mud! So if you find one with a metal detector
its mine!We then sat down to
have our usual conference when faced with a dilemma!
do we go forward or back? Our
decision was unanimous, we decided to go back!
Before all this happened I had lent Evelyn some thin cool baggy Indian style trousers. Every time she bent over I could hear them ripping, until in the end there was nothing left of them but shreds flapping in the wind. I laugh now at the memory of her doing all this serious work in nothing more than her knickers. Of course it was not a laughing matter at the time. In the end she tied the torn remnants around herself like nappies!
This incident was a valuable lesson for us both as we were extremely careful not to get bogged again, especially midday in these temperatures!
Not long after this we were searching for another campsite by driving through the bush rather than along the lake as we thought it would be safer. I heard a loud hissing and got out to see if I had a puncture but it was one of my sisters tyres, which had got staked. I couldnt believe it! Just a small green bush too! The hole in the brand new tyre was huge and it had ruined the tyre. There was no way we could repair it and she only had one spare. After taking ages to change it we had to proceed with extreme caution. No more spares meant another puncture and she would be in serious trouble. She refused to find a shady spot to camp, as she didnt want to go anywhere near bushes again so I found a nice clump of trees to camp in on my own. Evelyn was out in the open and hated this campsite and wanted to leave first thing in the morning. As I was backing out I heard another loud hiss, this time it was me! I had staked a tyre on nothing more than a woody annual weed! I had been picking up all the potential stakes but had ignored these weeds. I couldnt believe it! I only had one spare with me too.
Both of us getting staked one after the other was ridiculous! Thinking there was safety in numbers we had both been less cautious than normal. I had a puncture repair kit with me but I knew this hole in the inner-tube would be too big to repair. Now we both had to be careful. This really restricted our movements as no longer could we drive cross country so we went back to driving on the lake, but from now on, we inched our way along very carefully.
The Rocky Camp
We eventually came to an area with lots of quartz and ironstone, which looked half-decent enough to stay at for a few days of prospecting. Then came the problem of finding a campsite. The fact was there was no decent camping area for miles. We drove up and down the edge of the lake looking. Evelyn wanted to camp under two large she-oak trees which were about 100 meters apart in a very rocky open area right on the edge of the lake. I had chosen a small creek bed area with lots of smaller bushes and less rocks (better for putting up a tent and more sheltered!) but further from the lake. Both had their advantages and disadvantages.
Unable to make up our minds we tossed a matchbox 'heads' the she-oaks, 'tails' the small bushes . the she-oaks won! We stayed at this site for several days as we both found some small gram size bits of gold and thought there would be more. I later realized that this area must have already been thoroughly prospected when I found some old detector holes.
Night after night the thunderclouds gathered after a hot sweltering day. Our camps being some distance apart (we each had a she-oak tree) meant a long walk every time we wanted to talk. This stretch of ground had the most wretched, large, angular rocks I have ever come across and walking over them was crippling. We had to walk over the same rocks to get onto the lake and doing this journey several times a day was taking its toll on our feet and ankles.All the dogs ended up limping, my sister got big blisters and my ankles throbbed for hours at the end of the day.
Late one afternoon we had both been out on the lake marvelling at an incredible show of lightning right across the horizon until we realized it was coming our way. Our slow ambling wander back in the direction of camp gradually quickened until we abandoned detecting all together and made a dash for it! The sky was blackening fast but since this was becoming a nightly occurrence with no rain I was not too worried. I hobbled over to my sisters camp just as a strong wind came up and was watching her frantically trying to tie a tarp over her camp bed and I remember saying in my usual sarcastic tone, "I dont believe you! Surely you are not going to sleep out on that tonight?"
I was standing there with my cup of tea in hand laughing at her rushing around trying to tie the tarp which was flapping ever more wildly. Then suddenly there was a huge rush of wind and a deluge of torrential rain. I threw down my cup of tea and staggered towards my camp as fast as my crippled feet would allow. Soaked to the skin by the time I got there I found my tent completely flattened to the ground and the rain lashing down on top of it. All the pegs had pulled out of the ground because I hadnt been able to get them far enough into the rocky ground to start with!
All I could think was, "I have to save my mattress from getting wet!" So I crawled into the tent with my torch and with outstretched arms tried in desperation to hold up the tent against the gale force wind and rain that was raging. Rushing to zip up the back window I caught the zip and it stuck fast, but I couldnt let go of the tent long enough to get it unstuck now the full force of the rain was coming straight in through the window and drenching me as I crouched there with outstretched arms.
The storm went on and on but I dare not let my arms drop. It was too late, I was completely saturated right through anyway but maybe I could keep the rain off the mattress, books and clothes I had in the tent. I looked down, but to my dismay, the pools of water inside were getting bigger and bigger. The bright lightning flashes and claps of thunder were also beginning to really unnerve me. I knew we were camped in a very open area under the only two big trees for miles and with all that water on the ground! . :o(
My sister was in her car looking out at the rain and lightning and through the
dark she saw a light on in my tent and thought...
"Janets nice and cosy in bed in her tent, while I have to sit here all night."
Little did she know that the real truth was that I was soaked to the skin, frantically trying to hold up the tent, and definitely fighting a losing battle!
In the end my arms ached so much I had to give up anyway and let the tent collapse. With the storm still raging and terrific lightning flashing all around, I got out of the tent and decided to fetch my other big tarp. So in the torrential rain and dark I dragged a big tarp over to cover the remains of the tent. It was no easy task trying to do this in gale force winds but I anchored it with rocks, jerry cans of water, fuel, and anything else I could lay my hands on. Then I got into my car drenched to the bone, where I sat waiting for the storm to end. There was nothing anyone could do now but wait! Now Evelyn had just been telling me that I should also take the dog inside the car when there was a lot of fork-lightning about as he could get zapped as well! So I let Harley in but with the windows closed the heat and humidity started to rise in there and we were both gasping for air and sweating looking out into pitch blackness with the rain beating down on the steamed-up windscreen.
After hours of this the storm finally eased and I decided I just
had to lie down. So, totally exhausted, I crawled into the remains of the tent now with
only a small pocket left upright. Everything was soaked but I was too tired to bother. I
put garbage bags over the saturated mattress and bedding and stripped off and lay there
under the collapsed tent with only a small pocket of air to breathe. The bottom half of me
was pinned down by the weight of the wet tent and tarp. With all the water in there and
only a small pocket of air, it was like taking a steam bath! I woke up after only a short
time gasping for air as I nearly suffocated, with the garbage bags sticking to my back. It
was horrible! Nothing mattered any more. I finally opened the tent to let some air in no
longer worried about rain, but I couldnt sleep. I cannot remember ever having such a
terrible night in a tent before except maybe that night with the mosquitoes at Karumba!
Meanwhile my sister had taken the tarp off her swag and was getting a good nights sleep out in the open!
Me trying to resurrect the tent the next morning.This time it was Evelyns turn to laugh!
The next day I discovered that one of the fibreglass rods had split on my tent during that storm. Every night for a week more storms developed at night and it was always a battle to keep the tent up in such an exposed place. After several sleepless nights I found myself becoming weaker and weaker. It was becoming increasingly difficult to drag my bones out of the tent each morning. I remembered the stories about the early explorers in Australia who gradually weakened under conditions of extreme heat and hunger so that in the end they lacked the energy to even get up and look for food, eventually wasting away beneath a gum tree! That is how I was beginning to feel! - And this was only supposed to be a fun prospecting trip! :o(
Just to add to the torture, the flies had bred up in the heat and humidity.
The numerous decomposing animal carcasses lying around after the drought werent helping! I am usually very tolerant of flies and so is Evelyn but one particular day something had made them go crazy! They werent just hovering around in front of ones eyes or placidly sitting on ones back but instead were like a barrage of torpedoes zooming straight into your face, stinging you in the eyes, and sucking up all fluid from ones eyes, nose and mouth. This day I had forgotten to take my fly net but I didnt get far from camp! In fact I ended up running back for it. Anybody watching me from a distance would have thought I was being attacked or had gone troppo the way I was running and frantically slashing out at the air with my detector and pick. Evelyn had also forgotten her fly net and I couldnt help laughing when I saw her stumbling into camp cursing with a thick black mass of them behind her glasses! We both agreed, these were the worst flies we had ever seen!
Firstly I should describe the personalities of the dogs involved in this incident. Of my sisters three dogs, Jessie the Blue Heeler is the oldest and most sensible, though she does tend to bark and chase flies all day long. Jizza, a young black Labrador is known as the dog with only one brain cell! But my sister says it is getting bigger!
Squeaky is a female pup and a mixture of Blue Heeler, collie, whippet etc. etc. and is the funniest thing on four legs. She doesnt run, she springs along like a rabbit with ears flapping. She is very intelligent, cunning, sneaky, mischievous and scheming .a typical female!
Of course my old dog Harley, now about 14 years old, is wise, sensible, dependable etc. etc.
This day I was relaxing in camp trying to recover from yet another sleepless night looking out over the lake. I watched my sister approaching from afar and thought it unusual for her three dogs to be following in behind her so neatly. She had been out prospecting by some far away hills. Her faster than usual gait alerted me to the fact that something had happened! As she got closer I could see from her expression and ruffled appearance that she was in a state of agitation and shock.
You wont believe this she splurted out.
What could possibly have happened this time? I thought.
This was the story ..
Jizza had spotted a roo and decided to chase it. It was a big old boomer. We had already witnessed mobs of these big, old kangaroos lying down near dried out waterholes waiting to die, it was an awful site but there was nothing you could do. You could walk right up to them and they didnt even have the energy to hop away. There were roo carcasses everywhere.
My sister had just been about to sit down in a shady spot by some cliffs for a rest when Jizza took off after the roo.As soon as she saw it happen she started shouting and screaming at him to come back, so much so that she said she lost her voice (hard to believe! :o) ). Squeaky and Jessie were excited by the chase but knew better than to disobey their raging mad owner, so soon backed off.
It was midday and this old boomer was in no condition to hop far so what he did was go up the side of a steep cliff with Jizza close on his heels. The dog had completely switched off to Evelyns commands and as she watched they both rolled down the hill together in a ball of dust, tails, legs and ears. The roo escaped and headed back up the rocky hill a second time. But this time, half way up he turned and grabbed Jizza with his two front paws and pinned him to the ground. With mounting anger and rage my sister was shedding her detector and gear as she raced over to the scene. She still had a plastic bungy rod in her hand as she climbed the steep hill floundering and slipping on the rocks. By the time she reached them she was really angry! And once my sister gets this mad beware! She started to lay into the roo with the plastic rod but it soon broke so with her bare hands she started to punch that poor old roo. One can only imagine the terrible outpourings of swearing and abuse and screaming that took place. The roo finally turned his head to look at her and he must have taken sudden fright when he saw the rage on her face (who could blame him! :o) ) and released his death grip on the dog. Hopping only a few paces away he turned to look in bewilderment as she then laid into the dog who was still lying belly-up and in a state of shock! Squeaky and Jessie wisely retired from the scene sensing just how bad a temper my sister was in. She made all three dogs heal behind her all the way back to camp.
I must admit she did look very disheveled and shaken and her hands stunk from
punching that old roo. She probably saved Jizzas life that day! It took many cups of
tea before I managed to calm her down! I also had to make her a new bungy rod. But it was
the old boomer I really felt sorry for!
The cliffs were then named Boomer Rocks. There were many ledges and caves in these cliffs and a few hawks were nesting there with fledglings. I think the caves must have served as homes for dingos and foxes as there were many bones scattered on the ground below.
The Emu Egg
You couldnt exactly call my sister the luckiest person in the world, so if there is the slightest glimmer of anything that might bring her luck, she grabs it like a drowning man clutching a straw!
So when, during our normal two hours of looking for a new campsite, I spotted a
big emu egg perched on its own on a sand bank, I said to Evelyn,
"Gee, now that will bring you luck, you should carry it with you as a souvenir!"
It was bleached white from the sun and had probably been sitting there for eons.
She didnt hesitate, immediately she grabbed it and nursed it back to her car where she placed it out of reach of the dogs on her dash.
We made camp and went out detecting together and I lent Evelyn my trolley mounted salt lake coil to try out. After an hour I was anxious to have it back, as I couldnt get used to her detector which seemed heavy and awkward. I had to catch up to her as she had taken off with mine and was miles away. I was a bit peeved because I had not intended on going this far out onto the lake in the middle of the day. Catching up with her I reclaimed my trolley and we both headed out towards a near-by island. Since we were this far out, we decided we might as well check it out! Evelyn headed off around it one way so I decided to go around it the opposite way.
The ground was too boggy to push the trolley all the way to the island so I was cursing, as I had to carry it most of the way. Just as I put it down again I got a deafeningly loud tin can signal, in fact I got a few large signals all on top of one another. We hadnt found anything for many days so I was annoyed at coming across this pile of rubbish. Frustration mounted as I dug deep holes but couldnt pinpoint these loud signals with the 18-inch coil. In the end I gave up, as there were so many all in the one spot. I decided to find a small signal all on its own which I could pinpoint better and find out what this trash was. So I moved a few meters away from the hot spot and found one little signal. This was much easier to pinpoint and I soon had it out of the ground. I couldnt believe my eyes when I heard the fall of a tiny nugget onto my coil. "Hells Bells !" I was struck dumb! That pile of loud signals behind me must be all gold! It was a veritable minefield!
Extremely excited now, I started to work from the outer edge of the hot spot inwards. It took me ages with this big coil on a trolley to pinpoint the nuggets and dig them up but I wasnt taking any chances. Despite the intense heat and incredible thirst, as I had run out of water long ago, I worked solid. I could not go all the way back to camp now for a drink or to fetch a different coil, it was too far to go back and leave this lot. It would be just my luck that I go back to camp and someone on a motorbike comes along, sees the fresh holes and starts detecting. I dug all the bigger signals first and they included two pieces over an ounce in size and many chunky pieces. Finally I left the patch knowing that I had to go back when it was cooler and clean up the little bits with a smaller coil. When I returned my sister had been back at camp for ages and was getting very worried about me; she thought I had collapsed from sunstroke, which I nearly had! She couldnt believe it when I told her I had actually found some gold. I soon had the nuggets washed and was surprised at their odd appearance.
The total for that small patch was seven ounces but I called it the coral gold patch as many of the nuggets had a coral or lichen like appearance. I later saw a picture of similar gold and it was called plate gold.
|One of the larger pieces about an ounce in size. It still has some calcrete on it.|
Despite us spending many days gridding and searching this area it turned out to be just this one isolated patch which was only about six feet by ten feet and could have been easily missed. It was hard to believe that we could not find one more bit anywhere around it. But that is the frustration of gold prospecting!
My sister did not find a thing, and when we drove away from that campsite the emu
egg rolled off her dash, fell to the floor of the vehicle and cracked open revealing the
most disgusting, decomposed, feathered fetus youve ever come across! It was so
putrid that even the three dogs bailed out of the windows! An awful stench stayed in her
vehicle for the rest of the trip. It was not so lucky after all!
That will teach her to believe everything I tell her! :o)
It was stinking hot as usual - in the 40's, and the flies were terrible. I was camped on red sand dunes on the edge of a salt lake in West Australia (in the middle of nowhere) with only some scanty, half dead mulga trees for shade. The heat waves were shimmering across the vast expanse of the salt lake and the relentless, hot, salt-laden wind drained every last ounce of energy.
Just the time of the year for my sister to decide to come out from Perth to
prospect with me for a week! Not being a true, hardened and
'experienced' bushy like myself, she has a few little annoying habits.
One of these is to leave the long-life milk container out in the sun after she's used it and worse
still ...leaves the end open so the flies get in! So this day, I came upon the milk carton open and inside I saw two fat blowflies - horrible, disgusting looking things, in the act of drowning. (They tend to release their unborn maggots when in a desperate situation like this!) I closed it up and left it.
'This will teach her ' I smirked to myself.
She made and drank her next cup of tea (averages one every ten minutes)
and I watched on with interest. But obviously they hadn't floated out when she
poured the milk. Feeling my scheme had failed, I casually mentioned if she had noticed the
two blowflies in the milk? She looked at my
face, instantly realised I wasn't joking, jumped up, looked in the milk carton, and let
out a shriek!
Sure enough, they were still swimming around!'
I wasnt too popular for the rest of the day but I noticed she was a bit more careful about putting the milk away.
The following day was another scorcher.
She made a cuppa and continued to natter away, then suddenly stopped in mid-sentence.
I woke from my coma and looked up at her through blood shot eyes (brought on by sunstroke and heat exhaustion) - not like her to stop talking - somethings up!
She was looking into the bottom of her cup and turning an awful shade of green. She got up, walked to the fireplace, lifted the lid off the kettle and peered in....
'Oh no! - I've just drunk the juice of two hundred boiled bees, I'm going to die!'
'Don't exaggerate' I scoffed, so I had a look and sure enough - about 200 bees all
boiled! - And she had drained off most of the water for her cuppa. Obviously she
had been too thirsty to notice the peculiar taste.
'Well', I said,' You may have just found the cure for cancer!
She turned on me in a fury as the memory of the blowfly incident came back.
'YOU KNEW! You knew there were bees in the kettle - you always have a cuppa, you never drink coke!'
True! I dont usually drink coke, especially when it's warm and putrid - but honestly, I hadn't set her up this time. She wouldn't believe me though!
She was unusually quiet and ashen-faced for the rest of the day.
We had a long argument over who had used the kettle last - we each blamed the other of course!
Secretly, I knew it had been me!
I had just written the above story when
my sister rang me up from West Australia; she had just got home from a prospecting trip
(Just a couple of weeks ago - January 2001) and told me she had just experienced the worst
bush trip ever. Knowing the terrible predicaments that she tends to get herself into I
thought I would write it down exactly as she told it to me (without her
P.S. Only 'mad dogs and Englishmen' go prospecting in outback Australia in January!
This trip I wanted to travel really light with the minimum of gear. I had no fridge or eski with me so I was hanging my cool drinks in wet socks off the low branches of the half dead mulgas growing on the edge of the salt lake.
Then the bees decided to visit me and found the wet
socks. More and more arrived until there were millions and the socks were like bee-swarms
hanging from the branches.
It was 45 degrees in the shade but out on the salt lake it was like an oven with the reflection off the salt and the hot, dry winds making it unbearable to prospect for very long.
Id come into camp dying from dehydration and look desperately at the drinks hanging in the wet socks and the bees and change my mind about having a cool drink and have a lukewarm cup of tea instead. The bees were inside the landrover, they were everywhere, but I thought I had it under control they didn't seem at all aggressive.
To keep cool I decided to wet down the long sleeved maroon shirt I was wearing and hat while out on the salt lake - a big mistake! They started following me out onto the lake but I pretended to ignore them even though I could see their numbers building up under the rim of my hat. In the end I looked like a walking beehive.
Then a bee got up my sleeve and under my
armpit and one crawled up inside my baggy white trousers. I started stripping off in the
middle of the salt lake. (If youve ever been prospecting and had a call of
nature, youll appreciate how difficult it is to strip off when loaded down with
I stood there stark naked waiting for the clothes to dry before I put them back on which didnt take long, but I was so dehydrated and sunburnt I headed back to camp. After this, whenever I put the maroon shirt on the bees thought it was a signal and would descend on me like in a feeding frenzy, so in the end I had to abandon wearing that shirt altogether!
The dog, Jessie, was going crazy, not only because of the heat, flies and bees but the piss ants were driving her mad. (They are little black ants that can bite like all hell - usually in the most delicate regions - and they get super active when its hot). In an attempt to keep cool she was digging holes everywhere and stirring up more and more of these ants. In the dog's water bowl a battle was taking place between the bees and the ants with the ants attacking the bees whenever they landed, killing them and carting them off.
Then the biggest storm Id ever seen
came over and the lightening was flashing everywhere. Relief! All I could think was that
there would be plenty of water everywhere and the bees and ants would bugger off.
I had been sleeping naked on top of my swag hoping to catch any breeze in the stifling heat and spraying insecticide in a circle around me to try and keep the ants away. As the storm approached I pulled a tarpaulin over me and torrential rain started to come down. It was okay for a while but soon it got hotter and hotter under that tarp and after a few horrible, suffocating, sleepless hours I dragged myself up, kicked the dog out of the back of the landrover, crawled inside and collapsed on top of all my gear. All I could think of was that the bees would be gone in the morning, and the rain would cool everything down.
I was wrong! Pools of water had collected on
the tarp and the bees thought this was very convenient.
I was desperate for a cup of tea, I needed one urgently, but the wood was all wet, the fireplace washed out and the kettle full of bees. Even the ants had been up all night and I hadnt slept for days.
I finally lost my cool F*** you! and I kicked the kettle.
Stark naked, I sat down on the swag and accidentally squashed some bees and got stung. It really hurt. I got up and leant against the landrover and squashed another bee now I had three bee stings. I didnt have anything with me for bee stings so I got out a bottle of citronella oil insect repellent and rubbed it into the stings and then, being so desperate, I got silly with it and rubbed it in all over the rest of my body and around my boobs and neck and put my clothes back on. Ten minutes later my hands started itching, then my wrists and it was driving me mad. I looked down and there was a great red mark around my boobs Oh no! I thought, I must be allergic to citronella oil!
I started to get an almighty red raw rash all over me. I dropped my trousers, and the leg that had two bee stings was all swollen up. I dropped my knickers and my groin was all swollen. I was swollen from the knee up and there were white weals and blisters all over me.
Shit! Im allergic to bee stings people die from this!
The gravity of my situation hundreds of miles
from civilisation dawned on me in a rush as I went into a complete panic. All I could
think was that I had to get out of there fast real fast!
I threw the tarp and swag onto the roof rack and everything else into the back of the landrover including the bedraggled dog who was also in a state of total collapse. I took off with a cloud of bees trailing behind, increased my speed and opened all the windows to let them out. I wanted to get out of that hell hole as fast as I could.
As I was driving along my ears started to burn so I glanced into the mirror and noticed my ears were huge and red and the size of tennis balls. I went to feel my ears but there were no longer any holes, they had closed up and I could hardly hear. My arm was hanging out the window and I could see in the side mirror a huge swelling all fluid under my armpit. I was in such a panic I ended up driving 1000 kilometres non-stop all the way home - haggard, exhausted and on the point of collapse!
The doctor gave me antihistamine injections and tablets including some spare bottles to carry with me in case of another emergency. It took days for the ball of fluid hanging under my arm to go down. I'm still not sure what caused the allergic reaction - the citronella oil, the bee stings, fatigue or a combination of everything, but I dont want to go through that ordeal ever again - it was sheer hell!
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