Bundaberg Area Metal Detecting Group's Lee Brown says the possibilities of what treasures, from the rare and invaluable to items collected for charity, can be found when you are armed with just a metal detector and shovel are endless.
The newly formed local group is proving one man’s trash is another man’s treasure when it comes to digging up everything from cans, coins and history in the Bundaberg Region.
Lee said the Pasturage Reserve, now known as Barolin Reserve, and the areas around the coastal homesteads were places of interest for the group.
“Our region has a lot of areas full of rich history and each area contains a certain heritage about it,” he said.
“People worked out in the fields in the olden days and the sites that had a lot of manual labour on them.
“They are gold mines as you never know what you will find.
“You just need to make sure you have permission to fossick in the area first.
“As a group we can now go to these places together, explore and help each other learn new skills.”
Metal detecting a popular hobby
Metal detecting has been around since the late 1800s and is more popular in the Bundaberg Region than first thought.
Lee said the Bundaberg Area Metal Detecting Group started three weeks ago and the community started to discover it almost immediately.
“There are hundreds of metal detector groups around Australia, but I only knew of a handful of people here who were interested,” Lee said.
“So we started the group and in the first week there was 50 members, 70 by week two and now there is 99 members!”
Technique behind the search
Lee said there are a lot of technique needed to strike it rich. It’s not just a matter of buying a metal detector online and waving it around in hope to find gold, and that’s one of the major reasons the group formed.
At 55 years of age Lee has been searching for treasure for about 35 years now and said his biggest find was a gold in Western Australia.
“It was valued at $3500 and was just under 50 grams in weight,” he said.
Lee said once people had the hang of it most metal detector hobbyists would have a good ear to know whether they had come across something worth digging for before turning the soil.
“Time and experience helps to know what you are listening for; the tone of the machine will sound different each time,” Lee said.
He said high on the list of treasure people wanted to find was the Australian Gold Sovereign, a gold coin first minted in Sydney during the mid-1800s.
“It’s something everyone wants to find and can be valued from $1000 to $100,000 depending when and where it was minted,” Lee said.
“There are not many out there and I only know of one person in this area who has found one.”
Along with coins and gold, Lee said brooches and belt buckles were often found, and there was also the chance to stumble across military trash and old gun parts and bullets, if you know where to look.
“Depending on where you go, will depend on what treasure you find!” he said.
Lee said there were two types of metal detector machines, the VLF (very low frequency) and the PI (pulse induction), and both were specialised to find certain minerals and came in low to high price ranges, and Bundaberg Area Metal Detectors members were happy to discuss the pros and cons about each type along with the best places to search to help newbies.
Valuables found and reunited
Bundaberg Area Metal Detecting Group member have also given their time recently to help a woman who lost a precious piece of jewellery at a Bargara beach.
Lee said the woman posted a call for help on a local Facebook page and the Bundaberg Area Metal Detecting group was tagged and within a few hours she was reunited with the lost ring.
“Everything has a value to someone no matter what it is,” Lee said.
“I collect ring-pulls off cans for a charity that makes wheelchairs for kids!
“We all enjoy it and that's the reason why we do it.”
Anyone interested to know more in the hobby can find Bundaberg Area Metal Detecting Group on Facebook and Lee said everyone was welcome to join.
“Next Sunday we plan to walk the paths and anywhere accessible around the old tram station, if anyone would like to join us,” Lee said.