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$20,000 in hidden gold: Aussie prospector reveals secret maps to find fortune

Gold prospecting may not be the most obvious side hustle, but with the right knowledge it can be lucrative.

An Aussie prospector has revealed how he’s discovered up to $20,000 worth of gold in a day. Of course, he doesn’t find that every time, but with the gold price surging past $3500 an ounce, Angus James insists working full-time with his metal detector is bringing in more than the average wage.

Australia’s famous Gold Rush ended in 1914, but James said there is still a lot of valuable metal waiting to be discovered. So much remains that he's more than happy to share some very specific tips on how to find it.

And with the cost of living squeezing many households, he said prospecting can be "a really good side hustle".

"There’s not too many hobbies you can still make money from. The metal detector technology these days is incredible, so you’ve got every chance of finding your own gold," he told Yahoo Finance.

Angus James dug holding his five ounce nugget, with bushland in the background.
Angus James dug up a five ounce nugget. Source: Supplied

You can see how regularly he digs it up on his Gold Coins and Relics Facebook page.

James is a student of history and he reckons some of the old 1850s mining towns are still the best spots to find the shiny stuff.

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“The Golden Triangle in Victoria is one of the best places to go looking for gold. So, Inglewood, Bendigo, Ballarat have all got places worth searching,” he said.

“There's some really good places out past Broken Hill like Tibooburra. Western Australia, Victoria, every state has gold-bearing ground. It’s out there, you just have to find the time to look for it."

Wondering where to look?

He suggests searching underneath large gum trees because they tend to drop a lot of foliage. When it's stacked high enough it can hide nuggets for centuries.

Closeup of a gold map.
James recommends seeking out old gold mining maps. Source: Supplied

James suspects there’s gold lying under the streets of every old mining town, but he doesn’t expect you to dig up the streets to find it.

Instead, he recommends circling back to old mining spots. The best way to do this is to buy a map.

“I get a lot of the old maps that show the old diggings and where the miners during the gold rush used to work. You can get ones that date back to the early 1900s. Some modern geographical maps show the diggings as well,” he said.

Left - James out prospecting with his tools in the bush. His back is to the camera. Right - a hand holding heaps of small gold pieces.
Learning to read the ground is key to finding hidden gold. Source: Supplied

James is always looking for gold, and he concedes this sometimes annoys his wife.

“When we're driving in the country, I'm always looking out the window, looking for any signs of activity in the ground. As a prospector you never stop looking,” he said. “Sometimes when I’m by myself I’ll stop the car and do a recon, then come back with a game plan.”

James can spend months working over the same spot using metal detectors with varying sensitivities.

As the technology has improved he’s returned to some of his old haunts and found nuggets he missed the first time.

But more important than good tools is honing an ability to read the countryside.

“A lot of the time you work up a hill and try and find where the gold has come from. You might find a nugget further up the hill, then you might find a few more coming down a certain gully,” he said.

“I look for what I call ‘salt and pepper’. And that’s quartz and ironstone. If you can see traces of that around it’ll show the alluvial ground is in that metal detecting range where you can pick up nuggets.”

Left - a modern metal detector in the bush. Right - a smaller nugget in James's hand.
Because metal detecting coils have improved, James has returned to his old stomping grounds and found nuggets he missed the first time around. Source: Supplied

Some days James won’t find any gold. The next day he’ll find 10 nuggets. His biggest ever find was a five ounce nugget, but he’s also collected two three-ounce pieces in a single day. It’s even more common for him to take in a haul of smaller finds that will add up to a solid weight.

Because metal detecting requires both time and luck, he and his mates refer to their hobby as “bush pokies”.

“You’ve just got to keep spending the time out there and eventually you crack the code and you start finding it,” he said. “Once you’ve found gold, you get it in your blood and you don’t stop looking. There’s something magical about it.”

If gold isn't your schtick, last week James revealed how to find lost coins and jewellery. The week before that he made national headlines after filming what many believe was a black panther in Ballarat.

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