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Post  tenball Sun Dec 12, 2021 8:45 am

I really like watching Aussie Gold on Tv here in the U.S and am wondering why everyone isnt packing when they are out in the bush.I see looters and such just stealing from some of these honest prospectors .Looks like you could just unload a few rounds and take care of business?You steal a mans fuel and battery he might just die.

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Post  Axtyr Sun Dec 12, 2021 9:46 am

G'day tenball and welcome to the forum.

Our society here in Australia is vastly different from the U.S.

Nothing would give many people more pleasure than to let thieves know how we feel about them, but we as subjects, I mean citizens, we are not trusted enough to carry firearms on us. Nor do we really want to. I know that might sound strange to you but that's the way most people want it, even the firearm owners.

Each state has different laws, and while it might be legal to carry a sidearm in outback Western Australia and the Northern Territory, most other states don't allow it as far as I know.

As a pistol shooter here in Victoria we can only use our firearms on the range for target shooting. No other use is permitted. We are not even allowed to own a firearm for self defence, but if you already own one and then use it to defend yourself that is a different matter. By that I mean if you want to purchase your first firearm, then you can't use the reason of self defence.

When it comes to carrying a firearm whilst out prospecting then you still have to be there when the thieves are doing their business and usually they wait until you are not around. Sneaky ba******.

So that's how it is in Australia.

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Post  Kon61gold Sun Dec 12, 2021 7:37 pm

Welcome to the forum tenball

Unfortunately we do not have the same privilege of gun laws here in Australia, for if we did, few would be game towards robing another, very well knowing that it could cost them their own life by doing so.
Here in Australia it is illegal to kill, injure, frighten or annoy another person with a handgun, whether it is registered or not. Australia police can arrest & place before the courts anyone who commits an offence in relation to the use of firearms & the court may caution, fine or jail any offender.
This above law might be a safer way of protecting the general population from their own selves, but does not apply to the common criminal or registered shooter in possession of a firearm, who decides (for whatever their reasons) to take the law into their own hands, regardless of the consequences.

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Post  soldier of fortune Sun Dec 12, 2021 8:53 pm

I don`t watch these gold or opal   "reality "  shows anymore. Too much drama and falsehhoods to make the shows seem interesting. I am not sure how much theft and other bad stuff happens when out searching for gold these days ,but there were plenty of unholy crimes going on in the gold rush days. I recently  documented Australia`s first and only double hanging  near Ballarat as a project i did, The 2 murderers were a publican and his employee who jumped a bank manager and robbed and murdered him for gold  I documented the crime scene ,where the 2  memorials are for him  are located ( You would not see them unless you know they are there ) , the place they were hanged and where the gallows now stand on display as well as the large tombstone of the murdered bank manager .My best mate is buried 30 metres away in the same   cemetery. Times have changed here since then, We have no reason to " pack heat " ,as you would say in America.   I am weary ,but not scared to go bush alone and am alert to the dangers. Not that long ago ( about 5 years ago ) a bloke was panning early in the morning ,deep in the forest where i usually go. A very remote location. He came back to his car to find 2 blokes smashing the windows in and then they threatened him. He managed to get away and was chased out of the forest. I believe they were later caught.  It would be interesting to hear what others have seen or heard in the gold fields.

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Post  moredeep Sun Dec 12, 2021 10:27 pm

Never had a problem with fellow prospectors and I've been detecting for over 35 years.
Only problem I had was from a land owner who was claiming state forest land as his own, He verbally threatened to shoot me [no gun present]
High powered shots were fired off to intimidate us but we knew it was just huff and puff and continued on detecting Laughing
The police and parks Victoria eventually made him see the light, keep out signs are now in the appropriate spot cheers


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Post  Detectist Sun Dec 12, 2021 11:29 pm

The TV shows are entertainment.  

The issues can and do happen but not as often as portrayed.  My wife and I have been in the bush many times for weeks at a time with no issues.  Our biggest issues are flies, but there is also the concern with dogs, camels and snakes etc.
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Post  joe82 Mon Dec 13, 2021 6:58 am

i carry a firearm (feral animal control) people can be feral right Shocked ???????

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Post  adrian ss Mon Dec 13, 2021 8:24 am

I have had a few minor incidences while tecting.
Somebody took a shot at me, Another tried to break into my wagon while I was sleeping in it, Another bloke (Detectorist) decided that Wedderburn gold fields belonged to him and he kicked up a stink when I got within 50 yards of him.
Another bloke approached me while panning near Licola and said I was muddying up the creek; I said "Are you married mate, have you got kids"?
He says No, whats it to you dh? Well that's good mate because it means that nobody will miss you when you don't make it home tonight. So bugger off while you still have two arms and legs that work. Anyway he cursed and left saying he was going to report me to a Ranger in Licola. Rolling Eyes
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Post  Kon61gold Mon Dec 13, 2021 3:04 pm

Of course people can be feral Joe. When out detecting deep in the middle of nowhere, one can feral up in no time Shocked Q35

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Post  joe82 Tue Dec 14, 2021 7:14 am

nothing a dip in puddle water and some dirt deodorant cant fix eh affraid

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Post  Kon61gold Tue Dec 14, 2021 8:02 am

Laughing T06

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Post  nero_design Thu Dec 16, 2021 4:29 am

Here in Australia, we invented the term "Kangaroo Court" in relation to Bush Justice.  If a person stole from the prospectors in an encampment, their guilt was determined by the members of the camp and they were banished after a beating... forced out into the bush without supplies (usually a death sentence) - if they survived being beaten by the line of diggers who took turns beating on the thief on his way out.  During the early days of Colonial Australia, people were sentenced to "transportation" to the Sydney Colony from England for crimes as simple as "stealing a sock" or "opening a letter addressed to someone else".  When they arrived and served their time, they were often given a parcel of land to farm if they settled into the community without too many problems.  But stealing was always considered a serious crime.  Stealing a horse would often result in a potential for life or death due to the remoteness of each homestead.

When payable gold was first discovered in Australia in the mid 1800s, Australia's outback was once no different than the American Wild West.  Everyone carried a weapon.  Often it was a gun.  In fact almost every prospector carried a lengthy knife (which they called their Nuggeting Knife) and a pistol or rifle.  Sometimes both.  The "nuggeting knife" was pushed into the clay walls of any digging on a creek bed and was used as a probe to detect nuggets.  I imagine the sound and feel of a metallic gold nugget was particularly obvious. We occasionally find these things when metal detecting and they ranged from the old Pepper-box Pistols to Muskets from the Napoleonic Wars.  From 1851 to 1889, it was a common method for groups of five or more armed thugs to rob prospectors of their valuables and cash as they arrived at the goldfields and then to rob them a second time when they attempted to leave with any gold they found.  The problem became so bad that the armed Gold Escort was formed by the government to enable prospectors (for a fee) to have their gold safely transported out of the diggings.  Then the Bushrangers and their gangs arrived in the history books ...and those men would rob the Gold Escorts of their cargo.

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It was not unusual to hear prospectors in the NSW goldfields fire off a round as they retired for the evening...  This proved to themselves and anyone else nearby that their powder was dry and their firearm capable.  Native attacks on prospectors looking for gold in Queensland's Palmer Goldfields were often only staved off via mounted, armed members of the prospecting party with those dawdling behind on foot getting picked off (and regularly eaten), if the details printed in Hector Holthouse's book "River of Gold" are anything to go by.  Often, prospectors worked with a partner or a party and took turns sitting on the gold they found.  The usual place to hide the gold was directly under the ever-tended camp fire or in the soil directly under where a prospector slept.  Some brazen thieves would wait for a prospector to drink himself to sleep and then dig under his "pillow" to dig out any nuggets or gold dust.  Miner's clothes in the early days of the Australian gold rush had no pockets so they'd keep valuables like a watch or a wedding ring in a pouch around their neck... where it was often lost in the dark whilst working underground in the diggings.

It was around the 1930s that an incident took place in the city of Sydney where a prospector got into trouble.  He was so used to carrying his gun around with him at the diggings that he took his revolver into town and ended up involved in a shooting incident.  Laws were then amended that limited the carrying of guns in the cities.  In the 1980s we had several massacres here in Australia with firearms, resulting in even more legislation being passed.  I know this because I was licensed to carry a concealed semi-automatic in Sydney back then and my class of license was eventually withdrawn by the early 1990s.  In 1991, the legislation changed again (as a result of the previous incidents) and no longer were the public permitted to use a firearm with a claim of "self defense".  Pistols were only permitted to be carried by law enforcement, security or military.  Rifles and shotguns became more regulated, as did their ammunition.  In 2021, there's now allegedly more guns in circulation in Australia than before the changes to the laws took hold in the 1990s.

a description of guns - Victorian Goldrush - Summer of 1852-53.
"Perhaps the most quintessential sound of the gold rush was not the sound of dirt being shovelled or gravel being rocked in cradles, but that of gunfire. Almost everyone on the goldfields was armed, and whether it was a cheap single-shot Belgian or English percussion pistol, a multi-barrel English pepperbox, or a revolver like the Colt six-shooters, the diggers fired these guns nightly: partly as a deterrent to anyone planning to rob them, and partly in the belief that it was necessary to discharge their gun and reload it daily to make certain it wouldn’t fail if needed."

‘The sound of shooting begins, at first single shots and then as the number increases it sounds like flanking fire,’ explained a wary, if not horrified Polish digger Seweryn Korzelinski, who was already a veteran of armed insurrections in his native country."


Digger Edward Ridpath compared the diggings to ‘a bivouac of an army’:

"…the similitude of the scene is heightened by the incessant discharge of guns and revolvers, leaving one almost to imagine the diggings were in a state of siege, this noise is frequently improved by a general watching and barking of the watch dogs, if one of these happened to begin, his example is followed by all the rest, until it swells into a full chorus.  Just as almost all miners carried a gun, most kept a big mongrel dog to guard their tent while they worked, and to warn of approaching strangers as they slept: ‘Sometimes I sleep peacefully throughout the night,’ explained Korzelinski, ‘…but sometimes the dog leaps up suddenly, barks and disappears like an arrow into the darkness of the night.’

....Writers of the period suggest that firing guns was hugely entertaining for most diggers. Howitt thought them ‘like children… immensely delighted by the noise of gunpowder’ . However, the gunfire made Seweryn Korzelinski nervous: ‘Those nightly salvos always made me feel uncomfortable, because many of the diggers have had little experience with firearms and were as proficient in handling them as I would be if told to change a baby… Sleeping miners have been killed by stray bullets. I nearly had it happen to me in Bendigo.’ "


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A pistol from the Victorian Gold Rush

Australia is a country where you cannot hunt game or vermin with a handgun in the 21st Century.  The only place you can use a handgun lawfully in Australia is on a shooting range.  Rifles and shotguns can be used for hunting, but only when licensed and with written permission from the property owner, or in certain State Forests. This is why prospectors today don't carry guns around with them.  America and Canada are very different locations with a risk of bears and cougars etc so it makes sense to carry a gun over there.  My wife is Canadian and they have grizzlys and mountain lions on their property - which is barely 20 minutes away from a major city there.  I think there's a couple of guys who deal with the giant Saltwater Crocodiles up north in the Northern Territory (of Australia) who have permits to carry large caliber revolvers as a safety measure.  For the rest of the prospectors around Australia, if they're attacked by any type of animal, they tend to have their pick with them.  I personally carry several knives as survival tools - but you don't want too large a blade or it will affect your Pulse Induction metal detector.  I check in with my local licensing sergeant at my local police station every couple of years to be sure the laws haven't changed and was told by the licensing sergeant that it was almost essential to carry a knife out in the remote bush.  If your car is bogged in sand you can cut timber with a knife to put under the tyres for traction or to prepare food or to build a shelter etc.  

If you like to go into the bush to drink, it's probably a bad idea to carry any type of knife out there with you... but as long as you observe the regulations set out in the Summary Offenses Act 1988, you should be fine as long as you don't leave your knife or other tools in the car after returning from a trip out. Whenever I have been approached by wild animals, my pick is always in my hand and would prove more effective as a self defense tool.  When I return to my vehicle, my pick and any tools and utility knives go into the trunk and I return home.  As long as we are traveling to or from a location where we are engaged in our hobby or work (eg Chef, Fisherman, Prospector etc), we're allowed to bring a knife along. But you can't leave a knife, machete, baseball bat or crow bar in the car when you're not engaging in your hobby that day or the law will make an example of you if you're caught.  This is because aside from not being permitted to carry guns, Australian's aren't permitted to carry any device, tool, chemical, blade or other potential weapon for the purpose of 'self defense'.  But they can use anything on hand as a last resort if pressed.  Personally, I would like to see Australians offered the chance to defend themselves against harm but the politicians here don't seem too interested in this.  The police in particular don't like the idea of civilians arming themselves.  When I was a kid, the Boy Scouts were just in the process of phasing out carrying knives for bush-craft after one twit fell out of a tree and onto his fixed-blade.  These days knives tend to be associated with city crimes, often robbery and usually drug or ego related.

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Gerber knife wrapped in camo on the side of my last detector. An ideal design for bushcraft.

Be sure to comply with Section 3 of the Summary Offenses Act 1988 (reasonable excuse: "use in lawful recreation" + "during travel to or from or incidental to any of the above activities").


Yes, there's always the potential to be robbed or assaulted yet we're not permitted to carry anything for self-defense (lawfully).  Fortunately, robbery and assaults are extremely rare and most of those types of incidents tend to be related to people who were trespassing repeatedly on private property or were simply victims of casual crimes (eg car being broken into or gear stolen while parked).  Television shows tend to try to hype up the dangers out there but I know of people who have had their cars shot at multiple times, usually in Western Australia - and another who was tied to a tree naked after his car and gear was stolen.  That particular chap was ambushed in NSW as he returned to his vehicle.  As always, drugs often play a part in these types of incidents.  There's often no phone coverage out there in the outback or the larger forests and nobody to come and help if you call out. Most of the thieves slyly tend to wait for the prospector to leave his caravan or camp before making a move to steal things in their absence.  I tend to agree with others here that wild dogs and other wildlife would pose a higher risk than ill-willed people.

But I have spoken with a handful of prospectors over the years who claim they carry a gun unlawfully out in the bush.  Usually this is in Western Australia.  It might also be bluff so word gets around and tentative thieves leave the prospectors alone.  However I've spoken to more than one policeman who has been bailed up by an old-timer with a gun in publicly-accessible ground, whilst being falsely warned they were on "private property".  But whenever a gun appears, you can be sure the law will soon appear.

Generally speaking, if you're mindful of the wasps, snakes, spiders, camels, dogs, heat, bushfires and occasional mine shafts... the goldfields in Australia are relatively much, much safer than those in South America, Alaska, Africa or Papua New Guinea.  Even in the United States, discharging a firearm to deter a thief would still bring charges in many states. The worst thing I've come across in Australia whilst prospecting was an unattended meth lab on a hilltop in a State Forest... and the worst thing that has happened to me in the goldfields was running out of water... and getting lost after finding a very large meteorite (which I was never able to locate again after 9 additional trips).
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Post  moredeep Thu Dec 16, 2021 8:26 am

Great write up nero ,we can all relate to the digging up of musket balls.
The term gold rush basically relates to thousands of diggers rushing from one find/gully to another.
One can imagine this number of diggers in a fairly small area firing of their guns at night and the barking of dogs,
Ear plugs would have been useless but a bottle of rum would of induced some sleep Laughing



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Post  Reg Wilson Thu Dec 16, 2021 10:05 pm

Thanks Nero, very informative, and as usual a post that reveals your extensive knowledge of the Australian gold rush history. A great read.
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Post  bicter Sat Dec 18, 2021 1:29 pm

... and here I was thinking that a kangaroo court was where they "Hopped in the guilty man"  new to this forum and have aquestion 1f602 Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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Post  Kon61gold Sat Dec 18, 2021 1:56 pm

Once again top write up nero T06

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Post  AU_Toe Tue Dec 21, 2021 11:45 pm

I carry a gerber on my belt all day everyday along with a torch ( which I sell as the LIB lasts at least 3000 years ) and a leatherman in a speed Loader, I have removed point of leather man main blade and keep 1/2 finished wood carvings in 4x4 and workshop at home.

I was trained by .gov.au many years ago now and you can tell a lot by how someone holds a knife, point towards you, easily disarmed, blade pointing backwards, wrap a hand in a cloth and don't rush in Smile

If you are old and look like you could be hard of hearing, you can get in very close to a rat bag by pretending to not to be able to hear, point an eye at them to 'yell' into and once close enough stand up as you upper cut. ( Just like Mike T. ) then you are using leg and arm muscles, if you miss come down with the elbow of the swinging arm !!!

I have been approached a few times by plain cloths in QLD, ACT and SA asking about 'need to carry' I tell them I carve for a living and they are tools of trade. If it ever happens again I would be hitting up the copper about buying a torch.

When I go out for a swing I always carry a dedicated GPS and 3 sets of bats. and bread crumb usually by not filling in all holes until I back track and break branches on any ridge I pass over.
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