SYD Pearson remembers the exact moment he struck it lucky in Victoria’s sprawling gold fields. Pacing across a little patch of earth out the back of Dunolly last December, the 68-year-old heard the hum set off by his metal detector then the distinctive “clunk’’ as he chipped into the soil with his pick axe.
He knew what it was. Hands already shaking, the garbage man from Maryborough brushed away the dirt to discover a 4.3kg gold nugget.
The Aussie battler had hit the jackpot. He didn’t know it yet but the rock in his hands would be worth almost $300,000.
He placed it in his toolbox and drove home, presenting it to his wife and naming it in her honour. The Lady Catherine is now lodged in Victoria’s prospecting* history books and part of the state’s contemporary* gold rush.
Framed by the towns of Avoca, Castlemaine and Wedderburn, thousands of enthusiasts are returning to the “Golden Triangle’’ in a bid to strike it rich.
At around 96 per cent, the gold pulled from the soil here is considered the purest in the world.
Prospectors need only a $22 permit to legally claim it.
Prospectors and Miners Association of Victoria president Olly Oleszek said Mr Pearson’s nugget was one of two discovered in the last six months and among the largest recorded finds in the last decade. But he said even larger rocks certainly remained.
“The harder you work, the luckier you get,’’ Mr Oleszek said.
At 72kg, the “Welcome Stranger’’, discovered in 1869, is still the largest nugget ever discovered in Australia’s history. Today, it would be worth almost $4 million.
Mr Pearson and his business partner Jason have been turning the soil for decades and said 166 years since the first rush began, they didn’t mind continuing it.
“It’s like fishing,’’ he said. “You’re always after another big one.’’
The Lady Catherine was sold to a private buyer in the US but not before Mr Pearson had two replicas* created — one as a keepsake, the other for inclusion in the record of nuggets at the Melbourne Museum.
“It’s not just the value of it,’’ Mr Pearson said. “I’ve achieved something I spent 37 years trying to do. I always dreamt of finding the big one. I was persistent and never gave up.’’
prospecting: to search for minerals deposits under ground
contemporary: happening at the present time
replica: a copy
LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY
Activity 1: Striking it Rich
After reading the Kids News article on the modern day Gold Rush, answer the following questions in as much detail as possible. Try and include the question within your answer and focus on using correct punctuation.
— Where and when did Syd Pearson find his gold nugget?
— How much was his nugget worth?
— What is a contemporary Gold Rush?
— Do you know any information about the original Gold Rush in Victoria?
— What is the ‘Golden Triangle?’
— Can anyone go prospecting for gold and keep it?
— What is the largest nugget ever discovered in Australia?
— Why is persistence important when searching for gold?
— Would you like to go gold prospecting? What would you do if you found a large nugget worth a lot of money?
Extension: Trace or print a map of Victoria and mark out the ‘golden triangle’ and other places you might be able to find gold. Label and mark these places with an ‘X’.
Time: Allow 30 minutes to complete these comprehension questions.
Curriculum links: English, Geography
Activity 2: Lucky Narrative
Create a narrative based on Syd Pearson’s real life story. You can change the names and places and add it in extra details, but keep the general plot similar to how it happened. Give your narrative a title and begin drafting an introduction, main body with problem and resolution and conclusion. Use descriptive and imaginative language to describe his excitement at finding this gold nugget and how much it meant to him. You can elaborate on his story to describe how he spent the money and what he did next.
Extension: Write a Part Two of the narrative of Syd Pearson.
Time: Allow 45 minutes to complete a first draft of this narrative.
Curriculum links: English
(Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers and Punctuation)
Activity: Power Opener
It is important to write a really engaging opener to your writing to capture
the attention of the audience right from the beginning. Write a powerful
opener about discovering a massive gold nugget. Don’t be
afraid to up-level it!
Extension: extend out the opener into a full paragraph explaining how you were thinking and feeling when you unearthed that beautiful rock.
Time: allow at least 15 minutes to complete the task
Curriculum Links: English, Big Write & VCOP
Activity provided by Andrell Education, www.andrelleducation.com.au