The end of an era.

Sometime in early 2019 before SARS-CoV-2 upset the world, I watched a YouTube video by a bloke called Andrew called ‘Slaty bedrock, the natural gold trap‘ which made me a prospector forever.

I caught the fever.

So on a dark Wednesday morning in September 2019, I set out from Sydney to the location of that video, the Winburndale Rivulet near Howard’s Bridge on the Bridle Track, north of Bathurst.

I’ve been going there ever since.

I still wear that shirt, btw. It’s my lucky shirt.

I started a YouTube channel to chart my development. I applied all the tips and tricks Andrew and others taught me, and was coming home with gold on every trip. Not nuggets, but not fly-specks either.

But then it happened: I fell in love with the river. So I became enraged when I started seeing signs of disrespect — excavations around ancient tree roots, unfilled holes, 4WD tracks down to the water.

Toilet paper.

Like Andrew’s Adventure Gold, I was maybe attracting the wrong people to the Winburndale. So I ended my channel. Too late. Howard’s Bridge Reserve has been fenced off and is now private property.

Crown land can be leased for various purposes. A letter to Bathurst council would clarify what happened, but maybe I won’t bother. I’m not sure it matters anymore, because regardless I’m done with this river.

It no longer matters if you know where it is.

But I didn’t know any of this until yesterday.

I’ll admit, I jumped the fence and filled my boots anyway, had one last scratch, bade farewell to the place where it all began. I didn’t find much yellow, but that didn’t matter. I walked out muddied, fingers numb, knuckles scraped raw, exhausted but not sad.

There are many gold-bearing rivers in New South Wales. It’s time this beginner prospector shed his training wheels. Maybe I’ll take a leaf from Andrew and resume my channel but keep the location quiet.

Because I have the fever. There is no cure. All I need is a river somewhere else.

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