Finding the Welcome Stranger nugget

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Finding the Welcome Stranger nugget  (1869) 
by John Deason

an account the man who found the Welcome Stranger nugget, as detailed when he was 75 yrs old on November 23rd 1905. The nugget is one of the largest alluvial gold finds. It was found in 1869 near Moliagul, Victoria, Australia towards the end of the Victorian gold rush.

It was between 9 and 10am on the fifth of February 1869. I was at work picking the surface for puddling and put the pick in the ground and felt what I thought was a stone, the second blow struck in the same way and the third also.

I scraped the ground with the pick and saw gold; then I cleared away further and right around the nugget. There was a stringy bark root going right across it and a small bit of gold stood up and the root of the stringy bark ran through this. I tried to prise the nugget up with the pick but the handle broke. I then got a crowbar and raised the nugget to the surface. It weighed nearly three hundred weight (4,300oz), at first there was much quartz with the gold. As the nugget lay in the ground, the solid piece of gold was underneath and it was deep in the ground but the top of the nugget was not more than 1" below the surface. The nugget was about 18" long by 16" wide and about 16" deep. My mate, Richard Oates, was working a short distance below the puddling machine in his paddock and I send my son down to call him. When my mate came, I said, "What do you think of it Dick? It is worth about 5,000 pounds?" "Oh" he said "more like 2,000 pounds".

We then got the dray and lifted the nugget into it and carted it down to my hut, which stood about 1 1/2 chain to the north of the old puddling machine. We took it out of the dray and put it in the fireplace, built a good fire on it and kept it burning for about 10 hours, leaving it cool for 2 hours, we sat up all night breaking it free from quartz. My wife, my mate and myself were the only persons who saw the nugget as it was first found.

When it was cool we broke 70lbs. quartz away from it . Besides detached pieces of gold there was one solid piece of it that weighted 128 lbs. troy (1,536 oz.). This was on the bottom of the nugget as it lay on the ground. There was a great deal of loose gold when the quartz was broken off. The 70 lbs. of quartz broken away had course and fine gold through it. It was taken to Mr. Edward Udey's battery close by and a load of other quartz with no gold in it was crushed with it and 60 oz. of smelted gold was obtained.

Several small pieces of gold and quartz were broken off and given to friends after the burning. About 5 oz. of gold was given away and this has never been reckoned in with the weight of the nugget as sold to the bank. I still have a small piece of the gold, the only bit that is left (2-3dwts now in the Melbourne National Museum). The total weight of the gold was over 200 lbs. troy (2,400 oz.)

It was put in a calico bag and taken in Mr. Edey's spring cart to the London Bank, Dunolly. My mate, Mr. Udey and I went with it. The gold was smelted and yielded 2,380 oz. of gold 23 carots fine. The bank paid us 9,583 pounds for it.

This work is in the public domain in Australia because it was created in Australia and the term of copyright has expired. According to Australian Copyright Council - Duration of Copyright, the following works are public domain:

  • published non-government works whose author died before January 1, 1955,
  • anonymous or pseudonymous works and photographs published before January 1, 1955, and
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This work is also in the public domain in the United States because it was first published outside the United States (and not published in the U.S. within 30 days), and it was first published before 1989 without complying with U.S. copyright formalities (renewal and/or copyright notice) and it was in the public domain in Australia on the URAA date (January 1, 1996). This is the combined effect of Australia having joined the Berne Convention in 1928, and of 17 USC 104A with its critical date of January 1, 1996.

Because the Australian copyright term in 1996 was 50 years, the critical date for copyright in the United States under the URAA is January 1, 1946.

This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

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This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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