As a distraction from the looming zombie apocalypse I’ve compiled a list of basic prospecting gear which neither the eager novice nor wizened veteran could do without. The list has an antipodean flavour to it, and nods to ‘safety first’ principles which I (in wanton, cavalier fashion) ignore with reckless abandon. Here’s the big picture:
And it is a big picture, so if you can’t see anything clearly, click-on and zoom-in. Sitting on my coffee table are the following items (left to right):
- Camera bag with Sony A7Rii + 50mm / 90mm macro / 24-70mm lenses, a Rode directional mic, tripod, spare batteries and memory cards, a notebook and pen, and a SNAKE BITE BANDAGE! I’ll come back to that later.
- On the open lid of my camera bag, my 5.11 boonie cap (saturated with enough DEET to make your eyes water / kill flying insects on contact). Sun protection def needed on this island continent, where the big yellow orb in the sky is not your friend.
- My Keene crevice pump. Because you can’t see the t-handle, it kinda looks like that smelly tube your weird uncle Geoff keeps at the back of his wardrobe, but it’s actually an innocent device for sucking gold out of cracks. No, really.
- To the top left of that are a pair of neoprene gloves. I wouldn’t dig gravel in these, they’d tear apart (so I prefer to grind my fingertips off instead like a REAL man), but they are super-blerdy useful in frigid water and when pushing through bitey Aussie scrub.
- Completing the top row are four items together: my 14″ pan (big hands = big pans = big … results?) with a classifier nested on top, a spool of plastic tubing for sucking (that word again) gold from out them festy crevices, and the snuffer bottle where all the winnings go.
- Mid-screen, some ‘No Issue’ tissues for wiping my nose and/or bum. Mostly the latter.
- Below the tissues, a plastic spoon for delicate collection of potentially gold-bearing fines and/or eating my tin of baked beans if I forget to make a sandwich. I’d prefer a sandwich as beans make you thirsty and I am always running out of water = dehydration = a grisly death eaten by wild goats.
- A shovel for shovelling and for fighting off the goats. I know they’re out there, I can feel their eyes on me. Those beady black eyes watching, waiting, like soulless windows into the depths of some Nietzschaean abyss. Beware, foul demons! For I have a shovel!
- And I also have a plastic garden trowel. Not quite as potent against the denizens of the underworld as the mighty shovel, but useful for smaller-scale activities such as scooping dirt into a pan.
- In blue, the Estwing ‘gad-pry bar’ made famous by Gary Honan of Two Toes fame (link here) which is stupendously effective. Pry bar = prying rocks out of the way so I can get at the gold! And also potentially even more effective against the malevolent evil that lurks bleating around every corner…
- That long silvery thing with a bend in the end? I made that. A piece of aluminium I repurposed into a poor-man’s crevicing tool. Realised I could do better, so I am now using a ‘weeding finger’ by Burgon and Ball.
- The knife in the coyote-brown sheath is a Gerber ‘Strongarm’ which I purchased for its mil-spec good looks and rugged utilitarianism. A good knife that hasn’t let me down, and while I haven’t drawn it in anger yet, I expect it will serve me well when I do.
- The bent orange folding saw is neither a Laplander nor a Silky, its a $20 Fiskars. Losing its teeth, but still good enough for clearing dead wood, removing roots, that sort of thing. Also in case I get stuck between a rock and a hard place, I can use it to saw off my arm.
- That brings us to the Led Lenser diving torch. Because everything I use falls into the water at some point in time (including myself), it had to be waterproof, and because everything I drop into the water then gets stepped on, it had to be rugged. Tick and tick. Chews through batteries quick, though. Neon yellow so that even I won’t lose it.
- In the black pouch at the end is my GME personal locator beacon. I’ve mentioned this before: my single most important item of kit. Pop the aerial and get to the chopper! Hours of fun! Hopefully, they’ll get to you before the snake/spider toxin induced convulsions begin.
- Below the knife is a very old screwdriver I’ve ground to a nub. My single most-used piece of equipment, it goes where no other item dares, and has pried out quite a bit of the yellow stuff. It probably deserves a name, so I’ll call it Hugh even though I hate the name Hugh.
- Next to Hugh is a chisel, keeping a low profile because it doesn’t like to be reminded it’s there. Why? Because nobody ever cuddles a chisel, they just wedge it into a crack and beat it savagely about the head with a hammer.
- The beige-coloured automotive brush next to it is bombproof, if only average at brushing out the goldy bits. I will replace it with something sweepier and brushier one day, but for the time being its my go-to. Stoic like a Spartan with a fox gnawing at its innards, it keeps a straight face while I scrape the bejesus out of it.
- A pair of bent-nosed tweezers for picking the gold out of slender cracks, and for regular tweezing activities too. Plenty of splinters to be had in the Aussie bush, not to mention all of the other prickly nasty bitey stinging shit out there that’s trying to kill you.
- A rock hammer. Hammer on the one end, sharp diggy-bit on t’other. I’ve used it more for diggin’ than hammerin’ but that’s probably me just venting my frustrations on the world. Plus I’m always worried that a randomly-hammered chip of jagged quartz will take out an eye.
- The tiny gidget on the end is my multitool and 10x jeweller’s loupe on a neck cord. The loupe is great for examining details, such as distinguishing Fool’s Gold from the real stuff. The multitool is a tool with a multitude of uses, never leave home without one! Actually, leave it at home as it has a knife in it = illegal in this state to carry.
What’s missing? My first aid kit, specifically prepared for the eventualities which confront a lone prospector out in the Aussie bush. I also carry the glass out of a 40 year-old busted 500mm telephoto lens in my top pocket for uber magnification of interesting stones, removal of subcutaneous tick heads, splinters and the like. Plus stuff to repair cuts, scrapes, sprains, and sunburn, tropical-grade insect repellent, and all the gear you need to have a fighting chance of survival when a big Eastern Brown gives you a kiss on the back of the hand. I could easily substitute the Eastern Funnelweb, as the treatment is the same for spiderbite so no extra stuff required. Remember your first aid kit — safety first!
And that, believe it or not, is the ‘basics’ list. It goes in my 10L bucket. We’ve finally had decent rains and the creeks are in much better flow, so now its only the CV19 that’s slowing me down. I admit that I’mchamping at the bit to get back amongst it, but I’ll have to wait. Prospecting is not among the ‘permitted purposes’ for leaving your postcode, so I’ll just have to plot and plan and wait. I know there’s a nugget out there with my name on it. I’ll just have to find it when the travel embargo lifts.
Keep strong peeps.