Aussie Gold Hunters

Definitions from Oxford Languages

“reality TV”


noun: reality television

;television programmes in which ordinary people are continuously filmed, designed to be entertaining rather than informative.

Aussie Gold Hunters (AGH)

What has the first series of “Aussie Gold Hunters” done for Australia?

“a reality TV show that has quite literally damaged the hobby and business of prospecting and mining for gold due to it’s fantasy content.”

….the single most damaging modern event to hurt genuine metal detectorist, gold prospectors and bush lovers in general.

political parties are actively using the gold prospecting as a tool since it’s prominence on TV reality shows to shut down forest areas and block access to the public.

sold false ideologies of making it rich by purchasing a detector and walking into known goldfields.

This is not directed at or including commercial operations that can and do make money – but not all the time. Here we are looking at what the TV show – Aussie Gold Hunters perceives as normal in the world of gold prospecting. It is heavily supported and backed by the retail industry with companies like Minelab selling huge numbers of expensive detectors and all related products and accessories.

Unfortunately it suckered hundreds of people in to thinking they could buy a map, and stroll into the goldfields, walking out with pockets full of cash. The flood of reduced price second hand metal detectors is evident of unsuspecting people parting with upwards of $8,000 or $10,000 AUD per unit. In desperation some break rules and laws trying to recover that gold at any cost, often leaving a trail of failed mess in their path.

There are those who genuinely followed the hobby for many different “genuine” reasons and continue to enjoy the history, adventure, and journey of looking for gold and relics. One thing is for sure, here in Victoria there is no way you can make a living purely from prospecting. What we do see is influencers leveraging social media to make money from secondary incomes. Even then, there is a flood of these people trying to make a living from exploiting gold prospecting.

Gold prospecting is mainly a “hobby” or “interest”, not a sport and definitely not a get rich quick scheme. If you are doing it for the money, you are there for all the wrong reasons. If you are considering up scaling to gold mining, it does not always equal profitable returns and is extremely costly for licensing etc…

Aussie Gold hunters provides good entertainment for those into “scripted fiction”… Yes, they do find gold – but it is often planted or re-positioned from a previous find at either another time or location. I personally spent much time investigating and identifying the so-called gold find locations. Most of which were “great for TV” but were all fake set ups with many locations not even in gold rich areas.

Stories emerged of Aussie Gold hunters producers and directors dramatizing any issue that will make for good watching. Remember, the media are professionals of manipulation encouraging us to become addicted to watching their shows and buying products or changing our beliefs. Some of these stories came direct from paid participants

Prospecting equipment is not cheap with professional detectors costing $5,000 to $10,000 – some areas require expensive 4WD vehicles for year – round access. Sluicing requires skill and good knowledge of gold deposits with equipment ranging from a simple pan to a full trailer with pumps and generator set ups costing thousands.

You will often hear that education is the key – and the more you learn, the more this becomes obvious. The more you learn, the more likely you are to find gold in most places as “they (those before you) never got it all” – as they say. The gold you find is always hard worked for with that literal one-in-a-million finding something substantial.

You are only as good as the knowledge you acquire and how well you understand your specific gold equipment niche. Some detectors have many confusing option, others are relatively simple but if you do not know how to use it effectively, you might as well use a divining rod or dowsing rods.

Diggings are an excellent spot to start, as with every prospector that has come before you!. We still find very small gold on occasion on diggings – on a rapidly decreasing scale. You can buy gold prospecting maps online or from your favorite prospecting shop – try Google gold prospecting shops in your area.

Each state has different regulations and licensing requirements, the onus is on you. Here is what you can expect from some of Australia’s more rewarding states that have access for the avid gold prospector.

The Real Show

The scripting has changed over the years evolving with what the public can be sold as a “reality show”. It seems in the early days, editors were finding their feet on trying to sell the idea of prospecting as glamorous in the wealth department. Then it turned to being about the characters followed by the typical Aussie straggler looking after their families.

When the public got sick of that repetitive drawl and social media started throwing stones at the legitimacy of the program and annoying lines fed to the cast, it turned to follow an American style Gold Rush: Freddy Dodge’s Mine Rescue franchise. An improvement to the previous force fed hard luck stories, but still fictional in many aspects.

Now the word is out for more people to begin an acting career in the next gold hunting story. This is the reality of it, they are looking for paid CAST MEMBERS to provide entertainment. They are all paid (though not particularly well for their time with some receiving freebie incentives such as detectors as well).

So, what can you expect if you decide to take up gold prospecting? The first thing is purchasing equipment. Either you get suckered into buying second hand equipment that may not actually be the right choice for your situation or, pay exorbitant retail prices thinking it’s a guarantee to make your money back for your $10,500 AUD detector. Another situation might take you to Gumtree or eBay and getting a great price that turns out to be a counterfeit item made in China appearing to be the genuine article.

I myself went 12 month before landing my first nugget weighing at around 0.4 grams (today’s money around $40) with some people up to 3 years without a single gold find for their efforts. Of course everyone has a different story to tell, but there are few that actually regularly find gold, and even less that find larger, more valuable gold – especially on public land.

Here is what you might expect in your gold hunting en-devour…..

LOCATION: Victoria (Golden Triangle)

Limited forest means a slowly depleting fixed area with strict boundaries. As they say, all the easy gold has long gone now and we are also seeing people come into the bush raking, digging and illegally working the land leaving quite literally a mess for those who follow. Ad to that an increase in “fence jumpers” and the sentiment from local land owners towards prospector is rapidly decreasing.

It’s sad that there is even a tongue in cheek Facebook page called “fence jumpers” implying the illegal act of trespass, while actually tacking a satirical view of the world as a prospector. Back in the 1800’s during the initial gold rushes, this would have been met with a 12 gauge, now it’s up to the land owner to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the fence jumpers intent was mallace.

The first thing you notice is that our bush land is becoming the local rubbish dumping ground. This may or may not have something to do with the exorbitant tip rates we are seeing from local councils. I took my 4X4 and stacked tandem trailer to my local tip….$300! OUCH the local councils being counter-active at their best.

Next we see massive areas, sometimes multiple football field sizes, totally raked clean destroying the forest floor micro systems and making the ground look barren. They are left that way with unfilled holes everywhere – whether they are digging trash or gold, didn’t matter to them – just they end result of greed.

While you may argue that the old timers stripped these lands worse than what we commonly see, that was then, this is now and the last of the accessible land protected for all to enjoy….for now. In gold rush days, yes, there was gold everywhere and you could also dig just about anywhere, but that is all gone now. Some councils (Ballarat) even chose to build their towns directly on to of some of the richest ground in history?

Clear evidence of unlawful use of heavy machinery destroying gullies, creeks, all in state forest which is protected land. Baiting of digging areas with small pieces of aluminium foil and buried bourbon cans waste the time and patients of the humble prospector out for a relaxing day in the bush.

Puddlers have been attacked, creek banks destroyed – it baffles me to think as to how some people have little or no respect for the land on which they live. A sight becoming more common is the remnants of such criminals – leaving personal rubbish, drink containers, beer cans, energy drinks and even drug paraphernalia such as bongs and syringes – oh, and yes, once even a dildo (had to be said).

There has been even more forest of late “locked up” to protect what little we have – though not in the best interest of those who do the correct thing. Shows such as Aussie Gold Hunters have glorified the hobby leading many to believe they too might find the next “Welcome Stranger” nugget. This show could not be further away from the truth and many wish it never existed. The harmful affect it has had is insurmountable.

Most people will never see a gold nugget of 1 ounce or more while prospecting in their entire life. Aussie Gold Hunters is definitely based on “glorified fact” than actual realism. Gold fields have been “raped and pillaged” in the en-devour of man’s most prominent downfall – GREED. Skyrocketing gold prices has seen many consider gold prospecting as a “get rich quick scheme” they can have a hand in.

When you hear of prospectors finding “nuggets”, the reality is that particularly in Victoria, you can go days, weeks, months or even years without landing gold while swinging a detector. Typical nugget sizes are half a gram or less – so if you manage to snag just one nugget, you “might” cover your fuel costs for the day!

Victoria’s Golden Triangle region is word-famous for the large sizes, purity, and quantities of gold nuggets found within the area. It continues to yield significant finds even at the present times, and it is perhaps, one of the better known Victorian gold-bearing areas frequented by prospectors with modern gold metal detectors. But there isn’t an endless supply of gold “re-growing” every year. Anything in the depth range of a detector is quickly disappearing.

The official region, encompassing an area of 9,400 sq km, nestles on the northernmost portion of the Greater Central Goldfields region. The base line of the triangle begins at the township of Avoca marking the South West point, and then treads a line to Castlemaine City, which marks the South East point, and with both sides of the triangle meeting at the apex in Wedderburn Town to the north. Though there are many different interpretations of the actual triangle area said to actually be Victoria’s golden triangle.

The Welcome Stranger Nugget is the largest solid gold nugget found in on Earth. It was dug up near the town of Dunolly in Victoria, Australia back in 1869. (Dunolly said: Dun Ow ly). Now a small town with little in the way of a township and limited amenities though not to far from larger towns (Maryborough).

Now this isn’t to totally discourage the keen gold prospector – regulars and professionals have been known to collect around $100-$200 daily at a “reasonable consistency” – so comparable to an average weekly wage – no, not a top of the town income.

There have also been one-off finds of nugget around $30k, but rarely come along – and considering there are more than 20,000 licensed prospectors in Victoria – the odd’s are not great. Maybe if you had land to dig, the digging equipment and the license to do so, you could see figures of $1,000,000 plus….with up front expenses of close to half of that and only limited ground to mine.

Alluvial (panning/sluicing) gold can be consistently be found in creeks across Victoria (note the many restrictions though) with almost guaranteed finds, though typically around a gram a day. The effort to return equation does not quite work in your favor unless you hit a pocket, but they don’t last. Add to that the need for flowing water which is hugely random, and suddenly it seems less appealing other than from a hobbyist point of view.

Increasing numbers of theft and break-ins, and even assaults in and around the gold fields would suggest the necessity to think about your safety and the safety of your car and expensive equipment prior to venturing out to prospect. I have personally experience many of these situations while out “enjoying” the native flora and fauna.

I have also been bitten numerous times by various bull ants – extremely painful and lasts up to two weeks. I’ve been bitten by a spider multiple times, again – a terrible experience. Add to that flies, bugs, cockroaches and mosquitos of varying sizes and your day in the bush can be quite interesting. Yes, I’ve even been bitten while wearing “FIVE” different heavy duty tropical strength insect repellents!

LOCATION: Queensland

While there are various different areas, Queensland carries the heat of WA, plus humidity and bush, in particular, a lot of grass on the ground making swinging a coil troublesome.
Basically, for the more prosperous areas in North Queensland, think of the first scenes of Indiana Jones and the temple of doom.

Bugs, spiders, snakes, tick, thick bush, heat and humidity. The reward? There is lots of good sized gold nuggets in some areas with one particular prospector being rewarded with around $300,000 for a week of swinging his GPZ 7000 detector. NOTE: NOT a typical scenario!

Many of these areas are on private property, lease holds or stations (country ranches spanning thousands of square kilometers). Access to some areas are seasonal due to heat and weather, and can cost you hundreds or even thousands to camp there with your own equipment (caravan etc…)

Good gold can still be found in the more remote areas – if you fancy yourself fit and a bit of an adventurer. Gaiters are mandatory and mosquito born disease are common considerations for these areas.

Prospecting is varied with the potential for fine gold in some rivers and dense jungle and grasslands requiring small detector coils. This is an area that had thousands of immigrants working remote grounds that are long grown over. Heading this way assures you of an adventure of varying proportions.

FNQ has some of the most isolated gold grounds usually in dense vegetation areas with all sorts of wildlife. The Palmer river goldfields are mainly covered by station owners and difficult to access.

There are well known locations where you pay $thousands$ of dollars just to access the land. And while the Palmer area is known for it’s larger ounce plus nuggets, you are having to travel deeper and deeper into the jungle to hopefully land some substantial gold, all in hot and humid temperatures.

After paying your fees, some people are lucky to cover costs with their finds so again, go there for the experience, enjoy the bush and you might be rewarded with some gold to keep and display as memorabilia of your journey to the Queensland goldfields. Compared to all other states, this is the toughest to get to, and potentially the MOST rewarding for the touring prospector.

LOCATION: Western Australia

World famous for it’s gold mines especially around Kalgoorlie and remote locations where survival is the first priority, then prospecting. This isn’t a joke, people have and still do die in the Western Australian outback, with gold prospectors, unfortunately well represented. This is 100% a seasonal area with weather forecasts more important than your morning coffee.

One of the worst parts of this region is the flies, they are of plague proportions and relentless. Water can be exchanged for gold as it’s often unavailable for thousands of kilometers. Watch your car/camper for fuel and water thieves, it really is the wild west to this day. Smash and grab crooks still exist in larger towns, especially Kalgoorlie. Dead kangaroos litter highways – and having one jump in front of your car can end your trip SUDDENLY. They are solid beasts.

Lease jumpers, rubbish dumpers and (armed) station owners who have just had enough. WA is a massive area as dangerous as they come – primarily due to the heat and isolation, with much of the land covered by corporate and individual mining leases.

You are best served to get an education in these processes such as pending leases, before venturing out or face some health prison time (should you get caught) or a $6,000 + fine! Applying for prospecting permits differs hugely as well as applying to access gold claim sites.

I must stress thee importance of safety and survival equipment, communications and emergency beacons plus a good amount of water for WA above all else. Mine shafts, venomous snakes, scorpions and heat are just some of your enemies while hunting for the shiny stuff!

Take spare everything! You will find yourself thousands of miles away when your harness fails or you wear through a skid plate and any other form of supplies including food. Cell/mobile phone coverage is by satellite only – same with internet – fuel is scarce so carry plenty spare.

The best advice for first time visitors to the W.A. goldfields is to do a paid prospecting trip or the join in “tag-along” tours available through most gold prospecting shops around the country. They usually have good access to well researched and legal leases with knowledgeable instructors who can get you started and give detector training.

There are no guarantees

I had a friend from here in Victoria spend a week prospecting in WA, particularly on pending leases, only to return with 12 grams which puts him well below costs of traveling there and back via road. He was well experienced in the Victorian gold fields with the GP 7000 and a few X-coils, and had a good knowledge of geology with consistent gold every time he went out (sometimes very little, but never empty).

He did 4+ months of cramming research for the W.A. areas he intended visiting, read all that he could and learned the geology as it widely differs from his home detecting grounds. While he said it was totally rewarding and fulfilling, also being a bucket list item – he detected day and night for little reward.

Results vary hugely, especially in WA so don’t head over expecting to return with your retirement fund – prospecting should always be about the journey and not the destination or you will sadly fail every single time. Read all the Facebook groups, join all the prospecting forums – get an education of the “reality” of “reality TV” before you get disappointed.

….from Wikipedia; Reality TV

“Reality television is a genre of television programming that documents purportedly unscripted real-life situations, often starring unfamiliar people rather than professional actors. Reality television emerged as a distinct genre in the early 1990s with shows such as The Real World, then achieved prominence in the early 2000s with the success of the series Survivor, Idols, and Big Brother, all of which became global franchises.[1] Reality television shows tend to be interspersed with “confessionals”, short interview segments in which cast members reflect on or provide context for the events being depicted on-screen; this is most commonly seen in American reality television.”


“Reality television has faced significant criticism since its rise in popularity. Critics argue that reality television shows do not accurately reflect reality, in ways both implicit (participants being placed in artificial situations), and deceptive (misleading editing, participants being coached on behavior, storylines generated ahead of time, scenes being staged). Some shows have been accused of rigging the favorite or underdog to win. Other criticisms of reality television shows include that they are intended to humiliate or exploit participants; that they make stars out of untalented people unworthy of fame, infamous figures, or both; and that they glamorize vulgarity.”

FOOTNOTE: These are my own opinions and expressions of interest in relation to to the Aussie Gold Hunter series. In no way do I claim to be a professional and my opinions expressed here are not absolute. This article is directed at the actual program, and not of any individual presented on that program.

Aussie Gold Hunters
Article Name
Aussie Gold Hunters
The truth about Aussie Gold Hunters isn't exactly what you are lead to believe. Reality TV is far from the truth!
Publisher Name

Be the first to comment on "Aussie Gold Hunters"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.