There's gold in Australia, but there's no easy way to find it. Kevin Hillier can tell you that. He found the massive Hand of Faith nugget--which weighs 876 troy ounces--near Kingower in the southern Australian territory of Victoria in 1980.
After Hillier's find, treasure hunters flocked to Australia to look for a chunk of gold of their very own. But most of them went home tired and disappointed.
Instead of finding gold, they found what the Australians call "ironstone," a highly mineralized soil that causes most U.S. detectors to be useless in the search for gold.
"Conventional detectors can't be ground-balanced properly due to the ironstone," said Bill Devlin of Minelab Electronic Industries Limited of Australia. "And that ironstone is typical in gold-bearing country in Australia."
So a few years ago, patent law attorney Rob Wyly and Victorian gold field expert Craig Hughes got together to form a company that would produce a metal detector that properly tuned out the ironstone.
Along with college physics professor Don McCoy and understudy Bruce Candy, they developed the Goldseekers 15000, a detector, Devlin says, that will tune out the ironstone.
Devlin points out immediately that the Goldseekers 15000 can't discriminate out any metal object. "With discrimination, you lose depth and sensitivity,' ' he said. As a result, it wouldn't be a very good detector for the average coinshooter.
But for someone looking for gold or metal relics, such as the ones Civil War collectors search for, the Goldseekers 15000 could be an ideal detector.
Devlin says the detector fills a real need in Australia.
"The Garrett's and White's detectors just aren't adjusted for Australians," he said. "For instance, one U.S. detector will tell you that a nickel is seven inches in the ground.
"But there are no nickels in Australia, and we measure in centimeters, not inches. Still, that's what the treasure hunters in Australia want."
The Goldseekers 15000 is very new. The first one was offered for sale in March. Sales, according to Devin, have been very good. "It fits a real need in Australia," he said. "We believe it is the best detector for gold in Australia."
Operation of the detector is relatively simple. The detector has only four knobs and two switches, along with a reset button in the handle. The unit is ground balanced much like any detector. with a 10-turn knob.
In a taped field demonstration, the Goldseekers 15000 performed superbly against its American counterparts imported to Australia: the Garrett A2B, Master Hunter 7 and Freedom 2; the White's 6000D Series 3; and the Fisher 1260X and 555D.
According to a magazine published by Minelab, Goldseekers 15000 units are already finding gold nuggets in the territories of Victoria, Queensland and "elsewhere missed by the other brands-even where areas have been reportedly 'thrashed' by detector users."
But what about America? That is the reason Devin visited the states in June and July.
"I came to the U.S. to find out if the Goldseekers 15000 would work in the highly mineralized soil here-black sand," he said. "That was something we were interested in discovering.
"I took it to a river bed in Portland. There I found hot rocks the size of a box. I ground-balanced the Goidseekers 15000 and started detecting.
"Even with all the hot rocks, I was able to find coins under the rocks."
At the time this story was being written, you couldn't actually buy a Goldseekers 15000 in the U.S. Devlin even doubts that the Goldseekers 15000, in its present configuration, will ever be available in the U.S.
"The U.S. treasure hunter wants to find coins with his detector," Devin said. "At this time, our unit won't discriminate against any metallic objects.
"Also, we have discovered that U.S. treasure hunters like meters that tell how deep the object is and how low the batteries are. We don't have anything like that."
Of course, if you are interested in more information about the Goldseekers 15000, Devin invites you to write to his company at Minelab Electronic Industries Limited, 35 Henry Street, Stepney, S.A., Australia, 5069, or phone (08) 363-0899.
The Goldseekers 15000 is making gold easier to find in Australia. It might just make gold and Civil War relics easier to find in America.