Golden glory: Australia’s biggest gold nuggets

By AG STAFF 10 November 2016
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Most of the world’s largest gold nuggets have come from Australia. Here are some of the biggest and most famous examples.

GOLD NUGGETS HAVE been found nationwide but were particularly abundant in Victoria, the source of the world’s largest nugget, the Welcome Stranger.

Since the first gold rushes in the 1850s, major nuggets have always been big news, and they spurred a Victorian rush that, by 1910, resulted in the discovery of about 1200 nuggets, each weighing more than 620g.

Large specimens are still found today, such as the Normandy Nugget, discovered in 1995 and held at The Perth Mint. It is the second-largest nugget still in existence.

1. Welcome Stranger

The Welcome Stranger is the biggest alluvial gold nugget ever found, discovered by prospectors John Deason and Richard Oates, who were paid £9381 for their nugget by the London Chartered Bank of Australia at the time. A replica of Welcome Stranger is in the City Museum in Melbourne and another is held by the descendants of John Deason.

Date: 5 February 1869

Place: Moliagul, VIC

Weight: 72kg

Length: 60cm

welcome stranger gold nugget

Miners and their wives posing with the finders of the nugget, Richard Oates, John Deason and his wife. (Image: William Parker / State Library of Victoria)

2. The Welcome

The Welcome nugget was discovered by a group of 22 recently arrived Cornish miners at the Red Hill Mining Company site at Bakery Hill in Ballarat. The horse head-shaped nugget was originally sold in Melbourne for £10,500 and eventually ended up in the Crystal Palace in London before being purchased by the Royal Mint in 1859, where gold sovereigns were minted out of it.

Date: 9 June 1858

Place: Ballarat, VIC

Weight: 68.2kg

Length: 53cm

welcome gold nugget

A replica of the Welcome Nugget on display in the Mineral Hall at the Harvard Museum of Natural History in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. (Image: Anatoli Lvov / Wikimedia)

3. The Hand of Faith

The Hand of Faith is the world’s largest gold nugget found using a metal detector. It was discovered resting in a vertical position just 30cm below the surface by Kevin Hillier and sold to a casino in Las Vegas, Nevada where it is currently on public display.

Date: 26 September 1980

Place: Kingower, VIC

Weight: 27.2kg

Length: 45cm

welcome gold nugget

The Hand of Faith is currently on display in a casino in Las Vegas, USA. (Image: FF23-fr / Wikimedia)

4. The Poseidon

The Poseidon gold nugget was named after the winning Melbourne Cup racehorse of that year. The area in which it was discovered, called the Poseidon Lead, went on to yield a significant concentration of gold nuggets.

Date: 18 December 1906

Place: Tarnagulla, VIC

Weight: 29.6kg

Length: 39cm


The 29.6kg Poseidon gold nugget was named after the racehorse Poseidon (pictured), winner of the 1906 Melbourne Cup. (Image: Les Haigh / Wikimedia)

5. Normandy Nugget

The world’s second largest gold nugget still in existence, the Normandy Nugget was uncovered in a dry creek bed near Kalgoorlie, WA, in 1995. The nugget is owned by the Newmont Mining Corporation and currently on display at the Perth Mint.

Date: 1995 (month unknown)

Place: Kalgoorlie, WA

Weight: 25.5kg

Length: 27cm

normandy nugget

The Normandy Nugget is the second largest gold nugget in existence. Many larger nuggets have been found, especially during the Gold Rush era, however most have been melted down or processed. (Image: James St. John / Wikimedia)

6. The Kum Tow

Sometimes called Kum Fow and Rum Ton, this gold nugget was discovered by prospector Loo Ching and party at a depth of 3.81m in Catto’s Paddock, Berlin Flat. 

Date: 17 April 1871

Place: Kangderaar, VIC

Weight: 22.5kg

Length: 36.5cm


Replica of the Kum Tow gold nugget. (Image: Museum Victoria)

7. Latrobe Nugget 

The Latrobe Nugget is significant more because of its structure than its size – it is one of the largest clusters of cubic gold clusters in the world. It was raised in the presence of Charles La Trobe, Governer of Victoria, and named in his honour. The nugget is now kept at the Natural History Museum in London.

Date: 1 May 1853

Place: Mount McIvor, VIC

Weight: 717g

Length: 11cm

latrobe nugget

The Latrobe gold nugget on display in the Vault, Natural History Museum of London, UK. (Image: Gump Stump / Wikimedia)

This is an edited version of an infographic that originally appeared in the Jan-Feb 2016 issue of Australian Geographic (AG#130).