At the time of writing this, gold prices in Australia are at a tick over $2,500 per ounce of gold. Now, as a kid, I remember it being firmly around the $450 mark. Why then didn’t I set out to do some gold prospecting in Victoria?
With that kind of pricing, it seems very sensible to set out and do some gold prospecting in Victoria, you could strike it rich like so many before you have planned to do. And with a miner’s right only $25.20, you’re basically making money by buying one.
Gold was first discovered in Victoria in March 1850 by by Mr W. Campbell of Strath Loddon. The gold was found on a station owned by Mr. Donald Cameron of Clunes, but was kept secret until 10 January, 1851.
Further discoveries were made in the Clunes area, along with Andersons Creek in the Yarra Ranges, followed by what are the now well-known goldfields of Ballarat, Castlemaine, Beechworth, Daylesford, Bendigo, and Mount Alexander. Leading to the Victorian gold rush, and, of course, the eventual Eureka Rebellion.
I could go on all day about the gold rush, but let’s get down to it.
Parks Victoria provides maps of locations where gold prospecting is allowed and rules for prospecting on private land. Amazingly, common sense prevails. You’ll need to ask permission to do some prospecting on private land.
It’s time to strike it rich. Here are the best places for gold prospecting in Victoria.
Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park
The Castlemaine Diggings was at one time the richest goldfield in the world. So, it’s probably a good place to start.
During the gold rush, miners puddled and sluiced alluvial gullies and hillsides, dammed creeks and gullies, built roads, constructed water races to convey water, and dug intricate networks of shafts, tunnels and open-cuts in Castlemaine.
For history observers, the park has plenty of remnants of the bygone industry, with shallow alluvial diggings, tracks, burial grounds, huts and fireplaces, puddling machines, sluices, tail races, quartz roasting kilns and early quartz mining and crushing sites all visible.
Need somewhere to rest your head in Castlemaine? Check out Stone Edge.
Chiltern-Mount Pilot National Park
You’ll find the Chiltern-Mount Pilot National park close to the Victoria and NSW border, accessible from both Beechworth and Chiltern.
The park is home to Woolshed Falls, and like with Castlemaine Diggings, has a range of historic relics of its gold mining past.
Bring your hiking boots if you’re doing some gold prospecting here, you’ll have to put some kilometres into the legs.
Need somewhere to stay while exploring Chiltern-Mount Pilot National Park? Why not stay in this literal castle, The Tower at Mount Ophir Estate.
Greater Bendigo National Park & Bendigo Regional Park
Recreational fossicking is permitted at both of these parks, so bring your kit and get into it.
Bendigo is rich in gold mining history, still showing the remnants of the gold rush boom in the architecture around town.
You’ll find relics of the parks gold mining, and eucalyptus oil manufacturing past.
If you’re going to spend some time in Bendigo, immerse yourself in the history of the area and stay in this beautifully restored Victorian cottage.
Heathcote-Graytown National Park
Just out of Heathcote you’ll find the Heathcote-Graytown National Park, another location where you can drop in for a bit of gold prospecting in Victoria while you’ve got some spare time.
There are plenty of bushwalks, and spots for camping. This park might just be ideal for some longer-term prospecting.
Alluvial gold can be found, so bring your gold pan.
Kara Kara National Park
The Kara Kara National Park is full of old gold diggings, so you’re going to need to watch your step in part. But, this does mean you’re a chance to come across of the good stuff.
The Rostron Picnic Area is a good place to take a load off.
Kooyoora State Park
Close to Ingolewood, the Kooyoora State Park is another great park for gold prospecting.
Filled with box-ironbark forest—like most of these parks—the park stretches over 11,000-hectares and has plenty of land where you can prospect.
This does not include the area around Melville Caves, so steer clear.
Paddys Ranges State Park
The Paddys Ranges State Park is filled with more than 230 species of wildflowers, so if you don’t strike it rich, at least you’ve got something nice to look at.
Parks Victoria provides maps on where to fossick in the park, and beware of older mine shafts which are prone to collapse.
The park is named for a miner who worked the park during the 1800s, you can retrace his steps by following the signs.
Wychitella Nature Conservation Reserve
Maps for the Wychitella Natura Conservation Reserve provide a good outline on where you can and can’t go in the area.
Areas surround Wedderburn, and can be found on the Calder Highway, Wedderburn Road, among others.
Blocks are fairly spread out, and you’re unlikely to walk between them all. You’ll most likely need a 4WD to traverse them all.
Gold Bearing Creeks
The following creeks and rivers are prime for gold prospecting in Victoria.
- Andersons Creek | Flows through the Warrandyte State Park
- Mount Misery Creek | Flows in the Enfield State Park
- Reedy Creek | Find it in the Chiltern-Mount Pilot National Park
- Sailors Creek | Near Daylesford
- Slaty Creek | Flows through the Creswick Regional Park
- Sutherland Creek | Found in Steiglitz Historical Park
Things You Need To Know
To keep any damage at a minimum and to ensure others are able to prospect freely as you can, there are some rules to follow.
- Prospect only in permitted areas. Check maps on the Parks Victoria website
- Only drive on roads that are open to the public
- Park vehicles on the roadside, not in the bush
- Take all rubbish home with you. Do not bury it
- Minimise damage to vegetation
- Restore ground to the way you found it
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