Image Bunyip gold nugget, 1972

TLF ID R6367

This is a gold nugget known as the 'Bunyip nugget'. It weighs 50 ounces (1.55 kg). It was found in the early 1970s by a farmer while ploughing near Bridgewater to the west of Bendigo in Victoria, and was purchased by the National Museum of Victoria (now Museum Victoria) in 1978 for $40,000.



Educational details

Educational value
  • A gold nugget is a single lump of natural gold not embedded within any other material. Scientists are not exactly sure how nuggets are formed but, while there are various theories, the evidence points to them coming from gold-bearing quartz reefs. Nuggets have been found across Australia, but the largest gold nuggets have been found in Victoria.
  • Many gold nuggets were found in Australia following the discovery of gold in 1851, first in New South Wales and then in Victoria. The discovery of gold caused profound demographic, social, economic and political change in the two colonies as tens of thousands of people 'rushed' to the gold fields to try their luck. Many came from overseas and the population of Victoria alone jumped from 76,000 to 540,000 between 1851 and 1861. Today fossickers using metal detectors are still finding nuggets that were missed during the Gold Rush era.
  • Gold has always been sought after by those societies that value it as a precious metal. Of all the forms of gold, nuggets capture the greatest public imagination. Large gold nuggets are often given names, in many cases related to their shape. Examples of well-known Australian nuggets include the 'Welcome Stranger', the 'Hand of Faith', the 'Golden Eagle', and the 'Evening Star'.
  • Gold nuggets vary greatly in size. The Welcome Stranger nugget (2,300 ounces or about 72 kg), found near Moliagul in Victoria in 1869, is the biggest nugget recorded anywhere in the world. 'Lumps' such as the Bunyip nugget, at 50 ounces (1.55 kg), are small by Victorian standards.
  • The Bunyip nugget was bought in 1978 by the National Museum of Victoria (now Museum Victoria) with funds raised through a special appeal. The nugget was placed on public display with a donation box nearby, and certificates were issued to individuals and local gem and lapidary clubs to acknowledge and record their contribution to the appeal.
  • The exact location where the Bunyip nugget was found remains a secret. The farmer who found the nugget told the Museum he did not want his name or the location of the find revealed.
  • The Bunyip nugget may be an example of a gold nugget relocated by local Indigenous people. The area where the nugget was found, close to the Loddon River, has no gold-bearing rock formations close by, but there are Aboriginal middens. There are other reported examples, including in Victoria, of Indigenous people finding gold nuggets and carrying them to other locations.
  • This nugget is named after the 'Bunyip', a creature of the Aboriginal Dreaming, commonly said to be found in or around creeks or waterholes.
Year level

F; 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12

Topics Gold
Learning area
  • Science
  • History
  • Studies of society and environment

Other details

Contributors
  • Author
  • Person: Frank Coffa
  • Description: Author
  • Contributor
  • Name: Museum Victoria
  • Organization: Museum Victoria
  • Description: Content provider
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL: http://www.museum.vic.gov.au/
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Person: Frank Coffa
  • Description: Author
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: Museum Victoria
  • Organization: Museum Victoria
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL: www.esa.edu.au
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning Resource Type
  • Image
Rights
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and Museum Victoria, 2016, except where indicated under Acknowledgements