12 Sep 2013

Welcome Stranger!

Jemimah and I spent the night in Geelong last night, and instead of heading straight home, we decided to take the scenic route through scenery like this:

And this:

Eventually, our meandering route took us through a district known as the Golden Triangle which has produced more gold nuggets than any other in Australia. The corners of the Triangle are formed by Tarnagulla and Dunolly and Moliagul, and the latter is a tiny township with an even greater claim to fame as the home to the discovery of the world's largest gold nugget, the Welcome Stranger back in 1869.

My very favourite part of the story occurs a couple of days after John Deason and Richard Oates discovered the nugget somewhere near where Jemimah is standing in the photo above, and only an inch below the surface. After hiding the nugget until fewer people were around, the two men had finally prised it clear of the earth with a crowbar, and transported it home on the back of a bullock dray on the night of Friday 5th of February.

With a need to keep the nugget a secret all weekend while the banks were closed to avoid theft, the two men buried the nugget under the hearth and kept a fire burning on top of it. On Monday, the men decided to tell their friends of their discovery. They held a big party, and hid the nugget under a cloth at the end of the table. Midway through the night there was a great reveal, at which time the nugget was shown in all its magnificent glory. Imagine being at that party. What an amazing surprise! Bit hard to better that one, eh?

The 78 kg 'Welcome Stranger', still the world's largest-known gold nugget, was hidden under Mrs Deason's skirt, and taken to Dunolly with the men and the partygoers as guards. There, it had to be broken on an anvil before it could fit onto the bank's scales. At the time it was worth £10 000. That equates to between $3-4 million today! Within a few days of the discovery, the world's largest nugget was broken up, melted down and loaded aboard ship en route to England.

The miners were so keen to get the Welcome Stranger to safety that they even forgot to take photographs. How were their wives going to blog without photographs, I ask you? Anyhow, the photo below was taken several weeks later with a piece of quartz in place of the gold.

So there you are. Australian History brought alive. What a great way to learn. Isn't it a fantastic story?



  1. Just an inch below the surface!?! What observant fellows!
    One question...why is it called 'Welcome Stranger'?

  2. Look how grown up she looks! How tall!


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