The Golden Stonefish Nugget

The weight is 226.87 troy ounces (7056 grams)!

It was found  in West Australia north of Kalgoorlie. .

Above - Dan, Ian and Mike holding the nugget outside the Perth Mint in May 2004.

Here is the story of its find as written by Ian, the finder of the nugget  .............


Brief history

I first purchased my detector in December 2000 but could only manage to get two weeks leave granted a year from my job to go prospecting.

Might I say I was very lucky on my first outing! With only 3 hours of detecting I had found my first nugget - a 7g piece, which is now a neckpiece for my wife. But after reading articles in Gold, Gem and Treasure and on the Internet I went back again with a better knowledge and found approximately 2oz more of nuggets.

My last trip in 2003 had only lasted 6 days due to wet weather, however, my best find of a 16gm nugget soon got me planning for my trip in 2004.
This year would be different though! - I managed to get my first FOUR-week leave request granted in 10yrs!

Invited Neighbour

My neighbour Mike who I got to know through work (he is now retired) also does prospecting and I invited him to come along. He accepted and asked if he could bring his mate Danny along as well as he has had more  experience in prospecting. I thought he would be able to teach me a thing or two. So I happily agreed.

We eventually had a meeting at Mikes on a weekend and made our plans for the trip.

Time to go

I got the necessary permissions on tenements in the area I was wishing to prospect and printed out a couple of tengraph maps. Finally D-Day arrived and off with my two boys to North of Kalgoorlie, with Mike and Danny to meet us a week later.

During the week I went over some ground I had missed on my previous trip but to no avail. The boys enjoyed the camping though and looking around the old workings and having a go at prospecting.

At the end of the week no gold, plenty of junk my two boys were heading home via the Prospector, and Mike & Danny arrived that afternoon.

Education and Nicknames

The next couple of days were spent going over my old patches where previous finds were found. Danny was showing me how to read and understand the different ground around the area. For our efforts 2 small nuggets were found at 0.9 and 1.5 grams.

On the third day we started expanding our searches when over the radio Danny squawks " Why didn’t I notice that he had left his detector behind?" (Both Mike and Danny were on bikes) - which resulted in him having a   long trip back to camp.
Mike and I laughed and nicknamed Danny’ Detector-less’.
In revenge Danny revealed that Mike had forgotten his socks so the new nickname ‘Sock-less’ was given to Mike!

That afternoon I came across a couple of targets, which were highly ferrous and magnetic but were strange, as there were no diggings within the vicinity. Closer inspection reminded me of the story of meteorites a couple of issues ago in the Gem and Treasure. So I took the two targets back to camp to show Sock-less and Detector-less. They agreed they were strange and could be meteorites, so I will send them off to have verified later.

Tuesday morning I was off nice and early and when in my detecting area I realised I had left my pick behind (Showing Detector-less and Sock-less how magnetic yesterdays find was). Bugger! - And you can guess - I ended with the name Pick-less!

Wednesday - Danny was showing and describing the ways gold was found by the old timers at an old mine near camp. Upon picking up a piece of quartz and ironstone sample and flicking it over, it was noticed it had a small sample of gold in it, we couldn’t believe it! The site must have been detected hundreds of times yet this was missed and it gave a loud clear signal when passed over a detector. We then spent a couple of hours there with small mono-loops searching but incredibly, could find no more!

Move Camp

By Friday no gold other than the three bits had been found so that afternoon we poured over our maps to see where we could go and it was decided to move eastward next day.

Saturday saw us arrive at the new camp and that afternoon a scout of the area was undertaken. The country looked good and we believed there should be some show of colour.

Sunday was up bright and early and being Anzac day I paid my respects with a dawn prayer and 2 minute silence before proceeding off to detect. That morning I came on a ridge that looked really good and as I worked up it. I was disappointed to find that I had been beaten to it as someone had been there one or two days earlier. How could I tell? Dig holes up to 6-8 inches deep - not filled in! And very fresh.

However the saying is that they don’t get it all and that afternoon I pinged 3 small nuggets just over the   one-gram mark.

Next morning the three of us decided to detect the ridge at various distances to see if we could find the elusive gold. I managed one more piece for 2.5g but then it petered out.

The Signal

Tuesday morning I decided to go the opposite direction to the ridge and the area all around looked good. I did come across a couple of interesting workings and cursed, as I did not have my camera with me. I was pretty frustrated by the time I got back to camp for lunch as I was digging lots of junk targets. (I dig everything with     the mono coil)

That afternoon I moved to the same area but into a bit less junky area. The ground seemed very quiet and I was enjoying the easier listening. As time was getting on I remembered that photo I wanted to take earlier, so I made a bee-line to the old diggings.

Still swinging the detector I got this signal that sounded like a large bit of ground mineralisation. I stopped and rechecked and sure enough it sounded like mineralisation. But for some unknown reason, I still decided to   scrape away 2 inches and wave the coil over it. But this time the sound gave a slightly sharper tone, but still    very broad. Again I scraped another 2 inches but this time a clear target signal was heard - and very loud!

Thinking I was close to the target I widened the hole to ensure I would not damage it with the pick and   proceeded to dig the target out. I had dug down to 16 inches but could not tell where the target was in the hole     as it just screamed when I placed the coil near it.

I gave Danny a call on the radio and asked if he had with him his small coil as I was having difficulties in locating a target in a large hole. He advised me that he did not have it with him, and asked 'How deep? and Where was I?'
Excitement was building - my reply was "Around two feet and near a tree!"

Danny said they would come down to my location and not say any more on the radio. So I continued to dig and by now I felt I had a crater, and not wanting to hit the target I started using my bare hands to scoop out the dirt. That’s when I saw the first colour - it was gold! At this moment I stopped and took a photo, the nuggets first sight of daylight for maybe hundreds of thousands of years.

I heard Mike and Danny coming on their bikes. I carefully continued digging, being very careful not to damage the nugget. Finally I was able to get underneath the end of the nugget and work it free of its resting-place. When  I picked it up I could not believe its weight!

Mike and Danny had just pulled up, but by then my adrenalin and excitement was so high I raced over with the nugget waving it saying "its a kilo, its a kilo". Handing it to Danny, he was just as elated, both at the size and weight of the nugget, and proclaimed it was a damn site heavier than a kilo.

Shaking like a leaf I was congratulated by both mates and a quick clean and photo session took place. A measure with a marked pick handle from Danny proved the depth of the nugget to be actually only 20 inches deep! Finally the hole was double- checked and filled in. Then back to camp as the sun was well below the horizon by this time.

The weigh-in!

Yep! You can guess as per the other stories how the hell do we weigh a nugget like this? The solution came on the back of Mikes Ute - a little crane for lifting his bike. We got my jack-handle, attached two milk crates with rope with a couple of containers to make a balance scales on the crane. The nugget was placed in one container and water measured from my army 1lt water bottle was individually poured in the other container. (For those who may not know 1 litre of water weight 1 kg) After 7 litres of water the scales were nearly balanced but not quite so on the eighth litre the scales tipped a fraction the other way. We guesstimated the nugget was around 7.5 kilo.

We gave it a bit of a clean with Danny’s hair brush (its never been the same since!) and took a photo besides an Emu Draft beer can and that is when it struck us that it looked like a stone fish, thus the nugget was christened the Golden Stonefish. That night I didn’t get any sleep at all! - I wonder why?



Heading home

Further searching of the area next day failed to find any more nuggets, as we were hoping there may have been more (not of the same size), and by 3 in the afternoon I was that knackered I returned to camp and collapsed. Mike did find a threepence coin. That night I did sleep like a log.

After a couple of more days searching it was agreed to return home on Saturday and to go to the Perth Mint on following Monday to get it weighed properly.

The family was glad to see us home after 3 weeks and utterly amazed to see and feel the nugget. Next day was spent doing nothing else but admiring and photographing the nugget.


I only ever buy the Sunday Times and my wife kept the three that I had not been able to read whilst prospecting. Usually when I do read it she always gets me to read her horoscope. Out of routine I suppose, as I normally don’t believe in them, I did read my horoscope (Taurus) in the Sunday’s paper prior to our find, and here it is.

You have lucky stars. There could be wins but you’re more likely to be in the right place at the right time. Timing is everything. Expand your interests. Visiting places you don’t normally go to and doing unusual things will be most rewarding.

How true could that be? But in essence, I still need a lot of convincing to believe in the stars!

Technical and Closure

One question that would be on everyones mind is what machine was I using?
Well it was a Minelab SD2200D with the standard 6v battery system. I changed the batteries after 4-5 hours use (and placed on charger during breaks eg morning tea). The coil on at the time was a Coiltek mini UFO.

After cleaning the official weight of the nugget as per the Mint is 226.87oz (7056 grams)

Well! That is the story behind the Golden Stonefish, and I wish all fellow prospectors that their nugget finds are  to be big ones