Syd Pearson, a 68-year-old metal detector hobbyist from Down Under, dug up a 151.6-ounce nugget at a secret location near Bendigo, Australia, fulfilling a 37-year dream of finding "The Big One." The golden treasure netted a $227,000 windfall for the pensioner.
The former sanitation engineer said that his discovery actually took place in December, but he kept it a secret for security reasons.
He told the media that he was enjoying his favorite pastime when the hum from his metal detector signaled a sizable find. He poked his pick axe into the soil and was astonished by the distinctive "clunk" sound that echoed back at him. It was the sound of gold.
He carefully pried out the nugget that had been lying just under the surface and held it with two hands. He said he was "gobsmacked" by the experience.
“I never let it go, I just sat there and shook,” he said.
Pearson joked that he was shaking so much that he didn't need to stir the cup of tea he made for himself right after the discovery.
“It’s not just the value of it,’’ Pearson told The Herald Sun. “I’ve achieved something I spent 37 years trying to do. I always dreamt of finding the big one. I was persistent and never gave up.’’
The nugget — which he named "The Lady Catherine" in honor of his wife — was determined to be about 96% pure, the equivalent of 23-karat gold. Based on the spot price of gold, the precious metal content would be worth $183,404. The Aussie press has reported that the nugget was valued at nearly AUD$300,000, or about $227,000. Apparently, the rarity of the nugget warrants a premium of 24%.
While The Lady Catherine is a huge nugget by most standards, it's barely 7% the weight of “The Welcome Stranger,” which was discovered near Moliagul, Victoria, in 1869. That record-setting nugget weighed a staggering 2,300 ounces (143.75 pounds) and would have a precious metal value today of more than $3 million.
In the months between his initial discovery and now, Pearson has successfully sold the nugget to an anonymous U.S. collector. But, before he did, he commissioned two replicas of the nugget — one for himself and one for the Melbourne Museum.
Pearson used his earnings to pay down his home mortgage and invest in bathroom renovations. He's also planning to go on a houseboat holiday.
Australia is experiencing a mini Gold Rush, with thousands of metal detector enthusiasts returning to the "Golden Triangle" in western Victoria to seek their fortune. The area’s first Gold Rush period was in the 1850s.
Credits: Screen captures via 9news.com.au. Map by GoogleMaps.