30 Postcards: Gold Digging In Australia

3.20.2013

By Kevin Richberg

The Western Australian town of Kalgoorlie will make a prospector out of you.

Today we think of gold as something you get down the road or from a phone number Glenn Beck passes along. We rarely think about what it was like when discovering gold was still a novelty, when gold rushes swept entire families into new frontiers to hunt for hypothetical fortunes buried in the earth. We only know what it's like today, when mega corporations handle the dirty work. The idea of a prospector sounds silly. But they still exist, even for touristic purposes.

A postcard from the Western Australian town of Kalgoorlie let me in on a little known fact: In Australia, it’s perfectly legal (with a $25 permit) to prospect, or fossick, and keep as much gold as you find. And Kalgoorlie has built an entire industry out of it: diners, stores and hotels all revolve around the Super Pit, a mine that generates about 28 tons of gold each year.

In this episode of 30 Postcards, I brave the 110 degree heat to see if I could strike a fortune of my own, or at least enough to make back my $25 AUD spent on the permit.

 

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