How My Family Finds Gold

Updated on September 23, 2016
LongTimeMother profile image

LTM's small farm is completely off the grid. Her family uses solar and alternative power sources for lighting, cooking, animal fencing etc.

When her friends tell her 'My family goes bowling,' or 'My family goes fishing,' my youngest child smiles and says, 'My family finds gold.'

How my family finds gold might be of interest to other families who are looking for a way to spend quality time together. The best family activities provide plenty of time and opportunity for heart-to-heart chats and cementing the relationship between parent and child.

Finding Gold Instead of Going Fishing

One of our older children used to love going fishing. It was a family activity and a chance to sit and chat about what was happening in our world and the world at large.

Our youngest child comes finding gold with us and we go fishing far less often.

The best part about finding gold is you don't have to throw the little ones back!

In the winter when it is too cold for swimming at the beach, we occasionally go for a stroll along the sand together with metal detectors out. You'd be surprised how many people lose coins and jewellery and even rings during summer.

When fishing in a nearby river we bought a little boat and an engine, life jackets and all the appropriate gear. It cost much more than our gold-hunting tools. We no longer have the boat and we very rarely miss it.

Given the choice, I suggest you go for the gold with your children. With a cheap hand rod you can still occasionally go fishing at the end of a pier.

Treasure Hunting With Your Children

Metal detectors can be height adjusted. A walk on the beach with your children can easily become a treasure hunt!
Metal detectors can be height adjusted. A walk on the beach with your children can easily become a treasure hunt! | Source
The coil of a metal detector must be kept close to the ground and moved side to side. The coil is waterproof so it can be immersed in rivers and even the edge of the ocean.
The coil of a metal detector must be kept close to the ground and moved side to side. The coil is waterproof so it can be immersed in rivers and even the edge of the ocean. | Source

Family Finds Gold From a Florida Shipwreck

In September 2013 the Schmitt family found over $300,000 in gold treasures off the Florida Coast near Fort Pierce. The gold coins and chains are believed to part of the wreckage of 11 Spanish ships that sank during a hurricane in 1715.

The treasure was only 150 yards offshore but apparently the Schmitt family had been actively searching for gold in the region for the past 13 years.

What began as a hobby escalated into a professional business. The Schmitts invested in a boat and technology, including machines that hang from the back of their boat and blast jets of air onto the sea floor.

Metal detectors indicate possible sites to explore, then divers search for booty. The September find was allegedly buried 15 feet below the sea floor.

As exciting as it would be to discover a small fortune of treasure, I'm not sure I would be prepared to dedicate 13 years of time and energy - not to mention the expensive equipment and the frustration of fueling a boat and coming home empty handed day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.

It is great to dream of your family finding gold. But at what cost?

My family finds gold on dry land, and we don't spend a fortune looking for it.

Looking for Gold on Beaches

Precision tool for locating your target

GARRETT Pro-Pointer Metal De
GARRETT Pro-Pointer Metal De

As soon as my metal detector goes off, I grab my Garrett Pro-Pointer to help me find the precise location of the gold, ring, coin - or rusty nail - hidden within the sand or soil. It speeds up the process and makes finding the target much easier.

 

Finding Gold on the Beach

After watching the video above, I was tempted to write to the Garrett Detector people and suggest they make another video showing the easier way (lol).

You'll notice the people have 'pinpoint' metal detectors with them. Not surprising, given that Garrett makes the Pro-Pointer. I'm just surprised they don't use them more promptly. Perhaps they also manufacture the sand sifters as well.

If you are detecting on a beach, as soon as the coil makes a noise, pull out your little directional detector and use it to quickly find the target.

There are two ways to use the hand-held pinpoint detector:

1) Swipe it horizontally. There's a raised part to point downwards.

2) Point it vertically. The nose also has a detector.

We very quickly locate precisely where to dig using this helpful little device. It is incredibly accurate in sand.

Another advantage in countries like Australia and the UK is the higher value of our coins. Instead of finding pennies, dimes and quarters like Americans often do, we find dollar coins and two-dollar coins on our Australian beaches. :)

I have never dropped a large metal detector in water before, as one woman does on this video, but it seems to work for her.

Pan for Gold

Learn How to Pan for Gold

Panning for gold is a basic skill that all potential prospectors should develop.

There are many skills demonstrated on the internet and the video above is one of the better ones, but gold panning is best demonstrated in person.

It helps to have someone with experience watching your technique and providing feedback.

Choose a Plastic Gold Pan

Choose a gold pan made of plastic. You can run your metal detector over the contents of your pan. You can't do that if your gold pan is made of metal.
Choose a gold pan made of plastic. You can run your metal detector over the contents of your pan. You can't do that if your gold pan is made of metal. | Source

Other Tools for Finding Gold

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A different type of metal detector used to help find a target, particularly when digging a hole.Our first sieve purchase was metal. We quickly bought a plastic one because it won't set off a metal detector if we choose to scan its contents.In theory this unit is a good idea, but it was of little use to us and now just sits unused, slowly rusting away.
A different type of metal detector used to help find a target, particularly when digging a hole.
A different type of metal detector used to help find a target, particularly when digging a hole. | Source
Our first sieve purchase was metal. We quickly bought a plastic one because it won't set off a metal detector if we choose to scan its contents.
Our first sieve purchase was metal. We quickly bought a plastic one because it won't set off a metal detector if we choose to scan its contents. | Source
In theory this unit is a good idea, but it was of little use to us and now just sits unused, slowly rusting away.
In theory this unit is a good idea, but it was of little use to us and now just sits unused, slowly rusting away. | Source

Prospecting in Historic Gold Fields

Historic gold fields have piles of rocks discarded in the desperate search for big nuggets. Modern metal detectors identify concealed nuggets and a trained eye can spot the types of rock most likely to hold a decent yield of gold flakes and specks.
Historic gold fields have piles of rocks discarded in the desperate search for big nuggets. Modern metal detectors identify concealed nuggets and a trained eye can spot the types of rock most likely to hold a decent yield of gold flakes and specks. | Source

The most obvious location to find gold is where gold has been found before. The world is peppered with old gold fields where thousands flocked in the hope of finding a fortune - and many were successful.

Modern day prospectors often choose to explore old gold fields and search through the discarded piles of rock and diggings. We have the advantage of technology to help find gold.

This area was mined in the 1860s by blasting with high-powered water.
This area was mined in the 1860s by blasting with high-powered water. | Source

Learning About Gold With Your Children

It is only with the benefit of hindsight that we see just how quickly our children grow up. Passing years suddenly turn into decades. Many parents wish they'd spent more time having fun with their kids. Or at the very least, more time.

Can you think of a better family activity than searching for gold?

At home you can conduct research together. Which part of a river is the best place to pan for gold? Which way should the river bend, and why do you look where the water slows down? Where is your nearest gold mining location?

You have the fun and excitement of going to your chosen location, hopes high. You have the fun of working as a team, deciding the very best place to pan and developing your skills.

Ideally you will be successful and find at least a little gold to take home, but even if you don't find treasure, you'll have spent quality time together. Don't get so obsessed with the search for gold that you ignore your children. Talk with them. Take a picnic lunch and stop to enjoy it. Your kids won't want to come with you next time if they don't enjoy themselves.

Children often consider the process and the conversation to be the best part of their day out. Even if you never find that elusive nugget, you should be able to create lasting memories of fun and adventure.

Visit a Gold Town Where You Can Take Lessons in Gold Panning

There is a little town on the east coast of Australia called Mogo. It surprised me to find such a vibrant community, with lots of arts and crafts outlets, cafes and clothing stores, in the middle of what many people would call 'nowhere'.

Like many tourists, we stopped for a snack and a walk around.

While dining outside a Mogo cafe I noticed a stream of people wandering up a side road. At the end of the road was a historic mining venue offering lessons in how to pan for gold.

On another road trip, I noticed a tourism sign leading to the Peak Hill Open-Cut Gold Mine. Of course it was worth a detour.

Peak Hill Open-Cut Gold Mine Offers an Education in Gold Mining

Click thumbnail to view full-size
It was interesting to see the history of this mine site that began as a site dug by hand - and ended its life in the age of technology.I love seeing old equipment and imagining it in full production during the early gold rush days.The self-tour around Peak Hill Open Cut Gold Mine in NSW includes the human element.I was particularly interested in seeing the surrounding rock types.Isn't nature wonderful. Trees manage to establish themselves in the bare rock.Impressive but sad in the same breath. I appreciate the blood, sweat and tears that went into this gold mine, but I am saddened by the effect on the landscape.The tour includes maps and diagrams and lots of information about the history of the gold mine.
It was interesting to see the history of this mine site that began as a site dug by hand - and ended its life in the age of technology.
It was interesting to see the history of this mine site that began as a site dug by hand - and ended its life in the age of technology. | Source
I love seeing old equipment and imagining it in full production during the early gold rush days.
I love seeing old equipment and imagining it in full production during the early gold rush days. | Source
The self-tour around Peak Hill Open Cut Gold Mine in NSW includes the human element.
The self-tour around Peak Hill Open Cut Gold Mine in NSW includes the human element. | Source
Source
I was particularly interested in seeing the surrounding rock types.
I was particularly interested in seeing the surrounding rock types. | Source
Isn't nature wonderful. Trees manage to establish themselves in the bare rock.
Isn't nature wonderful. Trees manage to establish themselves in the bare rock. | Source
Impressive but sad in the same breath. I appreciate the blood, sweat and tears that went into this gold mine, but I am saddened by the effect on the landscape.
Impressive but sad in the same breath. I appreciate the blood, sweat and tears that went into this gold mine, but I am saddened by the effect on the landscape. | Source
The tour includes maps and diagrams and lots of information about the history of the gold mine.
The tour includes maps and diagrams and lots of information about the history of the gold mine. | Source

Finding the Source of the Gold

Like most hobby prospectors, we first panned for gold in river beds—and enjoyed it immensely. We were not always successful but with every outing we learned a little more about finding gold.

A turning point for us was when we became friends with a couple of geologists. They insisted that instead of looking for alluvial gold that was 'diluted' in the sand and silt in the bottom of rivers, our time was better spent looking for the source of the gold.

If there is gold in a river, it had to come from rocks in the river's catchment area.

We listened and learned, and went on a field trip or two with our geologist friends. Suddenly it all made sense. Armed with the knowledge of what we were looking for, we moved our focus from the river beds to the rocks above.

Learn What to Look for When Prospecting

Some people choose to spend hours panning for gold in a river, hoping they'll find small nuggets washed down from the hills. We choose to go to the hills, find the rocks, then take them home and crush them before panning the gold at home.
Some people choose to spend hours panning for gold in a river, hoping they'll find small nuggets washed down from the hills. We choose to go to the hills, find the rocks, then take them home and crush them before panning the gold at home. | Source

Learn About Your Local Rocks to Find Gold

You will need to do your own research and establish exactly what kind of rock is likely to hold gold in your local area. But once you understand what you are looking for, the search is a great deal of fun.

We have a number of indicators to watch out for, including granite. I get really excited when I find rocks (like the one in the photo below) with little pock marks. Those pock marks on the surface used to hold gold. The surface gold has been washed out - but there may well be more gold within that rock.

To extract the gold from within the rocks, we designed a small rock crusher and had it made up by a local metal fabricator.

Pock Marks Indicate Gold

Scars in the rock where small pieces of gold have loosened and washed away give a hint of more gold inside.
Scars in the rock where small pieces of gold have loosened and washed away give a hint of more gold inside. | Source

Crushing rocks to find gold

We didn't buy these in the store. When we began finding gold in rocks, my husband took our design to a metal fabricator and had it made.
We didn't buy these in the store. When we began finding gold in rocks, my husband took our design to a metal fabricator and had it made. | Source
Portable but sturdy, our rock crusher is used on small pieces of rock with positive signs of gold inside. We crush the rock, then pan the gold.
Portable but sturdy, our rock crusher is used on small pieces of rock with positive signs of gold inside. We crush the rock, then pan the gold. | Source

Treat Yourself to a Treasure Hunter Package

Garrett Ace 350 Metal Detector Treasure Hunter Package W/Free Headphones & DVD
Garrett Ace 350 Metal Detector Treasure Hunter Package W/Free Headphones & DVD

This kit will get you started. It doesn't have the pans you'll need (and every prospector needs to pan at some stage) but it does have a metal detector, headphones, a plastic digger etc. Everything you need to search for jewelry and coins on beaches ... and to identify gold nuggets in the ground. :)

 

Gold Comes Wrapped in Many Packages

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The gold that is found in rivers begins life in a rock. When the rock is eroded, generally by rain, the gold is released. Research what kind of local rocks are likely to conceal gold. Crack open a well-chosen rock, and prepare to get excited. Gold!
The gold that is found in rivers begins life in a rock. When the rock is eroded, generally by rain, the gold is released. Research what kind of local rocks are likely to conceal gold.
The gold that is found in rivers begins life in a rock. When the rock is eroded, generally by rain, the gold is released. Research what kind of local rocks are likely to conceal gold. | Source
Crack open a well-chosen rock, and prepare to get excited. Gold!
Crack open a well-chosen rock, and prepare to get excited. Gold! | Source

Going for Gold

Now that we are set up with our own little crusher, we can bring rocks home, crush them at our leisure and then pan the gold.

Of course we still go on occasional gold panning adventures down by the rivers and we enjoy a stroll on the beach with a metal detector, but my family finds more gold in rocks these days.

Looking for gold as a family activity is much more fun than fishing ... and I love the fact that we never have to throw the small ones back!

Searching for Gold on a Quiet Afternoon

Click thumbnail to view full-size
After successfully panning gold near the end of a day, we dug up more of the river bank at the same spot, and brought it home. One quiet afternoon we will get around to panning it.Learn about rocks with indications of possible gold. This pile is waiting for the next visit from our friendly geologist. I intend to label them with his feedback so I can better learn which type of rock to discard and which to collect.
After successfully panning gold near the end of a day, we dug up more of the river bank at the same spot, and brought it home. One quiet afternoon we will get around to panning it.
After successfully panning gold near the end of a day, we dug up more of the river bank at the same spot, and brought it home. One quiet afternoon we will get around to panning it. | Source
Learn about rocks with indications of possible gold. This pile is waiting for the next visit from our friendly geologist. I intend to label them with his feedback so I can better learn which type of rock to discard and which to collect.
Learn about rocks with indications of possible gold. This pile is waiting for the next visit from our friendly geologist. I intend to label them with his feedback so I can better learn which type of rock to discard and which to collect. | Source

Questions & Answers

    © 2014 LongTimeMother

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      • LongTimeMother profile imageAUTHOR

        LongTimeMother 

        23 months ago from Australia

        I think you'll enjoy getting out and treasure-hunting, mandalinlady. Some days are just nice and quiet with not much happening. But when you find an exciting treasure it is really good fun! Jewellery and money are quite common on the beach. I'm so sorry to hear of the death of your son. Prospecting may help to fill some of those long, sad hours that lie ahead. I hope so. Best wishes to you and your husband.

      • profile image

        mandalinlady 

        2 years ago

        I love the idea. My husband and I have a metal detector and it is planned to be one of our activities for our senior years, and now even. We lost our son to gun violence when a family gang shot him unarmed sitting in a car. So since we live near the shore in Delaware we thought it might be fun to see what treasures we can find. Very nice hub

      • LongTimeMother profile imageAUTHOR

        LongTimeMother 

        3 years ago from Australia

        If you have the right kind of rocks in your part of the world, peachpurple, you should certainly start collecting them! :)

      • peachpurple profile image

        peachy 

        3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

        oh, so gold is found in rocks, I must collect some rocks

      • LongTimeMother profile imageAUTHOR

        LongTimeMother 

        4 years ago from Australia

        Hello, Jean. I had a phone call from a friend who lost her ring while gardening. The metal detector is a very useful tool. The only thing I know about Cripple Creek is the banjo music. lol.

      • Jean Bakula profile image

        Jean Bakula 

        4 years ago from New Jersey

        You reminded me of fun, family vacations. My Dad always had a "treasure finder" or metal detector, and we would scour the beach once the bathers went in. We found rings, coins, all kinds of neat stuff. We once found a wedding ring someone at our hotel had lost. I also got to pan for gold years ago when I was in Cripple Creek, CO with my then husband. It was a tourist trap, but the town look like an old gold mining town, and it is a great memory!

      • LongTimeMother profile imageAUTHOR

        LongTimeMother 

        4 years ago from Australia

        Hello Eddy. It is a fun excuse for going for a walk. lol. See you round. :)

      • Eiddwen profile image

        Eiddwen 

        4 years ago from Wales

        A great hub and I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

        I now look forward to many more.

        Eddy.

      • LongTimeMother profile imageAUTHOR

        LongTimeMother 

        4 years ago from Australia

        Hello TomRy. It is only a matter of time until you find something more exciting. I've found that kids also enjoy collecting any junk they find. Then if they don't find gold, they can always feel good about cleaning the beach. lol. :)

      • TomRy profile image

        TomRy 

        4 years ago from USA

        Great Hub, we use our Garrett to scan the local beaches. The kids love it, we have only found old nails and bottle caps. But it's a lot of fun.

      • LongTimeMother profile imageAUTHOR

        LongTimeMother 

        4 years ago from Australia

        Hello FlourishAnyway. Dig that metal detector out in time for summer and head for the beaches. lol.

        Thank you, annart. Yes, family time is very important. This is one hobby the entire family can enjoy as long as it remains fun.

        Hi Writer Fox. I would never suggest anyone give up their day job to search for gold, but it certainly is nice to know there is value in every small success. :)

      • LongTimeMother profile imageAUTHOR

        LongTimeMother 

        4 years ago from Australia

        Hi Izzy. We don't get stones on our beaches in the way you do. I used to keep an eye out for lovely beach stones when we lived in the UK. Now I watch for shells - and the occasional piece of driftwood with character. :)

        WiccanSage, sounds like you could have some great fun with a metal detector. Better add it to your wish list. :)

      • Writer Fox profile image

        Writer Fox 

        4 years ago from the wadi near the little river

        What a fascinating family hobby! With the price of gold escalating, more people might be looking for this article. This is a great presentation and your photos add so much. Voted up.

      • annart profile image

        Ann Carr 

        4 years ago from SW England

        We see quite a few people with metal detectors on our beaches and I believe they find a fair amount. However, they always seem to be solitary searchers; what a waste of family time and fun! They should follow your advice and take the whole family with them.

        Your enthusiasm for, and enjoyment of, time with your family shines through this and that's worth even more than gold!

        Happy New Year to you and yours and may it be a prosperous one! Ann

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 years ago from USA

        What a great idea if you live near the beach! My husband has a metal detector that he used to use to turn up all kinds of Civil War relics, but it now sits unused, as his interests have turned elsewhere. It would be interesting to get some use out of it again.

      • WiccanSage profile image

        Mackenzie Sage Wright 

        4 years ago

        I've always wanted to get a metal detector. I live on the gulf of Mexico and am pretty much surrounded by beaches, between what the tourists leaves behind and what the tide brings in I bet I have some really great odds of finding something good. This was a fun hub, I have to reconsider that metal detector.

      • IzzyM profile image

        IzzyM 

        4 years ago from UK

        Everyone can make a little bit of time for more than one hobby. I also garden, but when I have the time I go gold-panning or metal detecting. I also love collecting and polishing beach stones. Finding gold is the best! Thanks for writing this :)

      • LongTimeMother profile imageAUTHOR

        LongTimeMother 

        4 years ago from Australia

        Hi Jodah. Looking for gold is a lot like fishing. There are days when you catch nothing. We are pretty relaxed in our attitude towards it and view it as a few hours of exercise and chatting. There are some however who are very intense and depressed when they don't get results.

        I prefer to spend time working in the vegetable garden growing our food than looking for gold to buy our food. :)

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        4 years ago from Queensland Australia

        Well, LongTimeMother, This is a very informative and interesting hub. What a great idea for the family, to go looking for gold. I never liked fishing but it was what we often used to do with the children, even though we rarely caught anything. All my kids have left home but it could be an interesting activity for my wife and I. Thanks for sharing. Voted up.

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