Learning to look for a ‘Lead’
We’re about to get our first lesson in looking for gold.
Donnie Pascoe leads his group of novice gold hunters through Calliope, down several dirt roads to a dry creek bed.
“This is Leixlip Creek, the one that runs through Calliope,” he says.
“If you wanted to come up and do a bit of panning and crevicing, this is a good spot to do it.”
Then he adds, “I’ve panned here, didn’t do real good, but that’s not to say someone else might not find gold.”
I don’t know anything about panning, but I’m pretty sure one of the key ingredients is running water, which seems to be a bit scarce in this area.
Donnie announces he will show us ‘how to follow a lead’, basically, the art of reading the land to find potential patches of gold bearing dirt.
He points to the creek bed.
“See all those red rocks, that’s jasper, it comes in all different colours, pinks, yellow and green,” he says.
“As soon as I see jasper, I start looking for more.”
Picking up a multi-coloured rock which he declares is conglomerate he announces, “When I find jasper and quartz, I start to look where it’s coming from.”
I pick up one of the smooth red stones and gaze at it. I’ve seen this stuff before, in the bush behind our old home in South Gladstone. I recall there was lots of it in and around several dry washouts leading to a small creek which was dotted with old, shallow diggings with dirt piled up on one side.
I make a mental note to spend a bit of time there very soon.
We follow Donnie up the creek which forks into two branches and he leads us up the left-hand side.
“What do you notice?” he asks.
“There’s no jasper or quartz,” comes the reply.
We head back to the right-hand branch which is full of jasper and quartz. There is also a drop off which has been undercut at some stage by water running off the nearby hill.
“If you dig around under that drop off there’s probably gold underneath,” Donnie said.
“But the jasper and quartz has come down off that spur up there.
“The jasper comes from a thermal push, so there won’t just be gold here, there’s potential in this area, it’s definitely worth running a detector over it.”
I note again that if anyone in our group has bought a metal detector with them today, they’re not holding it now.
Donnie tells us he has been given permission by the landowner to detect over the spur and the surrounds. Apparently this property stretches back to Calliope, the place where good gold was found in the glory days of the diggings.
I look at the small red jasper stone in my hand and wonder how far below underground it was before some pre-historic calamity forced it up to the earths’ surface where it lay until it was uncovered by numerous rain events and floods.
Hundreds and thousands of years I guess.
It’s not something I’ve given much thought to before, but now, as I stand in a dusty gully staring at a red gibber, I’m surprised at how amazed I am. Will I ever be able to look at a rock, any rock, again with the same wonder?
In this thoughtful frame of mind, we’re herded back to our cars and follow Donnie back into Calliope.
Click here for the next post: Gladstone Gold Tour – Part 3