A reader goes into retirement and leaves Inverell with a caravan

Brian Martin's grandchildren, twins Chelsea and Lachlan, Baby Lucas and daughter Kate, along with coins, gold, jewellery and relics collected during the 6,900 km trip.
Brian Martin's grandchildren, twins Chelsea and Lachlan, Baby Lucas and daughter Kate, along with coins, gold, jewellery and relics collected during the 6,900 km trip.

After 51 years in the workforce and eight months into retirement, I left Inverell in NSW on February 1 with caravan in tow. My final destination was Victoria’s Golden Triangle but the route I was taking is not recommended if you want to get there fast.

I’d purchased a new Minelab X-Terra 70 and my first stop was Yamba on the NSW north coast. My plan was to detect all the major beaches from there to the Entrance. All up, that section of the trip took 17 days and my return was $251 in coins and eight dress rings.

I left the Entrance at 4 am in the morning to beat the busy traffic through Parramatta but Sydney is a mad place. By the time I reached Parramatta at 4 am, all three lanes were choked with traffic but it was a good feeling knowing that my fellow motorists were all going to work, and here I was pulling a van and retired. Unlike my fellow motorists, I had no idea where I was going. I was looking for the Liverpool turn-off to Goulburn and then on to Tumut where I planned to visit friends I hadn’t seen for 35 years. After a number of anxious moments I eventually lucked onto the turn-off and a few hours later arrived on their doorstep. 

“Do you know who I am?” I asked them both.

“Know the face. Know the voice. Give us a smile,” the woman said. This I did. 

“No. Wouldn’t have a clue who you are,” they chorused.

“I shot with you in the Broken Hill rifle Club for 15 years,” I said, and suddenly they knew me.

Age sure does leave its mark

I stayed for dinner and we sank a few cans, looked back on photo and told a few yarns of the old times. it was a great night, but age sure does leave its mark. he had gone white and I had turned grey in the intervening years. 

My next stop was Echuca and then it was on to Tarnagulla Caravan Park where I booked in for 17 nights. It would be my base to cover all the gold mining towns in the area. 

Armed with a GP3000 I managed five nuggets for four grams during my stay.  One local assured me that “its still out there mate, all you have to do is wave your coil over it and he’s right except that 20 years ago you could get a half an ounce before lunch. Today it’s a game of patience. Low and slow and use your ears. 

Gold is definitely wher eyou find it. Look at the Hand of Faith nugget found in 1980. They brought in machinery afterwards and never found another nugget within a 100-metre radius of it. 

While staying in Tarnagulla, I was approached by a nice gentleman from Bendigo who mentioned that he was here for their annual family reunion. he had literature on the 1,743-ounce Blanche Barkly nugget that was found by his family in 1857 at Kingower, behind the general store. Found at a depth of 13 feet, it was the third biggest nugget to come out of Victoria and assayed at 95.58 per cent gold. 

During my travels I had noticed there were a lot of demolished red brick buildings and historic village sites, so I put the X-Terra 70 to use again and plenty of relics came to light. I also noticed a lot of peppercorn trees around most of the sites and figured they must have been popular shade trees back in the eighteenth century. 

Time to move on

It was again time to move on so I bought a Tully’s map on Talbot from jim Stewart at the Laanecoorie Caravan Park. A propsector for 30 years, Jim is making his own coils which are about three feet in diameter. his caravan park is situated on the Loddon river and the fishing must be good judging by some of the photographs on his office wall. I booked into the Talbot Caravan Park for seven nights at a cost of $30 plus what power you use. The amenities are very good at tht park and I can recommend a stay there. During my week there I managed to detect 27 grams from bulldozer diggings adjacent to a large mine plus a four grammer in the state forest. After this find I rang my family in Inverell and let them listen to the sweet mellow sound of gold through my external speaker. Just after I left Talbot I learned that an 80-ounce nugget had been found there along a fence line. yeah, it’s still out there mate. 

Beaufort was my next stop for three nights and here I managed a one-gram bit from the bank of a local dam. After beaufort, i packed the GP3000 away and took off from Warrnambool to visit my son-in-law’s parents, Noel and June Thornton. 

I spent six days back on the beaches between there and Geelong for a total of $83 in coins and three more rings. 

Trip total of 43 grams

It was time for another shift, this time to Dalesford for five nights and then on to Castlemaine for a further five nights. In these towns and districts, I managed eight more grams for a trip total of 43 grams. 

My journey of 6,000 kilometres cost me $999 in diesel at an average price of $1.27 per litre. the Toyota Hilux 2.8 litre motor averaged 11.37 kilometres per litre. My caravan sites during the trip cost me a total of $1,128 single person. This comprised 23 nights of coastal accomodation at an average of $23.52 per night and 37 nights of inland accommodation at an average of $14.67 per night. After my final stay at Parkes, I arrived back in inverell on April 14. It had been a good life out there on the road. You must try it sometimes. 

The second installment of this reader’s journey will be posted on July 19. 


Discuss "Sixty Days on the Road, Part I"

Please note: All comments made or shown here are bound by the Online Discussion Terms & Conditions.