TWO young prospectors have struck gold, stumbling across about $16,000 worth of gold at one of Clermont’s well-known fossicking areas.
Brothers Blake Want, 26 and Luke Want, 29, unearthed six “good sized” nuggets over six days, equalling 6.2 ounces.
“It was amazing being able to find big gold in a well known place, we didn’t expect a nearly 4 ounce nugget,” Blake said.
“We found a 2.5 ounce nugget in the same location three years ago but this is the biggest we have found.”
The two men, who live in Woolgoolga, have been prospecting for about 10 years and search for unearthed treasures whenever they get a chance.
Working for a mineral exploration company in Queensland, the brothers used their work break to head to Clermont for the fifth time.
“We have been to Clermont five times now and every time we go we get gold,” Blake said.
They found the six nuggets at McMasters Fossicking Area between October 16 and 21, and are confident they will head back to the Central Queensland town again.
“It’s a challenging hobby but the more time you put in the better your chance will be on walking over a nugget or few,” Blake said.
“We love Clermont as it’s a great town with lots of friendly prospectors.”
Although with prospecting experience in both states, Mr Want said it was a shame prospecting and fossicking in State Forests was so restricted in Queensland compared to New South Wales.
“Even though there’s so much potential up here, we are locked out of so many old goldfields because of unfair and complex public land access laws.
“Our lucky finds shows how much opportunity there is here in Queensland but it’s frustrating because we know the gold is out there, we just can’t get at it.”
Owner of Clermont’s The Outback Prospector, Frieda Berry-Porter, said the area where the brothers found their nuggets could close down at any time.
“This area could actually be closed down at any time because it relies on the permission of a grazing lease holder over the state forest,” she said.
“Unfortunately, there’s a lot of other areas that could be accessible to prospectors but because we don’t have the permission from the grazing lease holder, we are not able to access that area as prospectors, despite the fact I could access it as a mountain bike rider.”
Mrs Berry-Porter and her husband Jonathan have been pushing very hard for local Burdekin candidates to commit to increase available land for prospecting to support tourism across the region.
“For an example on the level of interest, in the 2019/20 financial year, there were over 9100 Queensland fossicking licences sold, an increase of 45 per cent over five years,” she said.
“There’s definitely a growing interest in the activity.
“The need for our area is to make (the land) available as public prospecting areas rather than just having them there as grazing lots.”
Despite the current laws, she said it was great to see prospectors making great finds around Clermont.
“Its been great to see (the brother’s) progress, they certainly are quick learners.
“We put a lot of effort into making sure customers fully understand how to use the machines so they can get the most out of it and have the most success.
“The best sign for us is we’ve done our jobs is that customers are successful and finding the nuggets.
“That’s what it’s all about is finding a piece of gold.”