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May 18, 2024
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Gold prospecting in the outback not for the faint-hearted – ABC News

Gold prospecting in the outback not for the faint-hearted
For David Enright, chasing gold is not just a hobby — it's a lifestyle. 
After a back injury put him out of work 18 months ago, David, from Coffin Bay in South Australia, took off through the outback, metal detector in hand.
"I travel around a lot — [to the] Northern Territory, all the way down here to Marble Bar, then I'll go down to Kalgoorlie," he said.
David said prospecting offered an addictive thrill.
"Chasing it, it could be just over there, and you get there and there's nothing — but you think, 'Just over there' and you keep going, and going."
WA Amalgamated Prospectors and Leaseholders Association (APLA) president James Allison said there were about 43,000 registered prospectors in WA.
"We contribute over $350 million a year into local economies, it's quite a big industry," Mr Allison said.
APLA runs "newbie" camps for beginner prospectors, teaching geology, equipment use, and bush safety.
Perth retirees Dianne and Perry Hepton recently completed one of the camps before setting off on their first gold chasing trip through Marble Bar.
"I said, 'Look, I'll come, but don't expect me to enjoy it' — but I love it," Dianne said.
"We fish, we travel around and look at scenery, this is something else to add to our list."
But prospecting is not for the faint-hearted — Mr Allison said people must be prepared with enough water and supplies, proper communication tools such as satellite phones, and personal locator beacons.
"Once you get into those regions, you realise the remoteness of the place and the distance between townships," he said.
"One of the biggest issues we face is when people get lost in the bush."
That's an issue Marble Bar local Danielo Specogna knows first hand.
In 2012, he spent a harrowing night alone in the bush after becoming separated from his friend while prospecting. 
Danielo buried himself in the sand while he waited for help.
"There was this eagle, just above me, circling, eying me off — and I just moved one arm out from under the sand and gave the finger, and it worked!
"It came morning, I heard the sirens, I walked out, tried to go towards the sound, I couldn't walk straight.
"Thanking God, they saw me, they got me down to a tent, they gave me some lunch — the best orange of my life!"
For David Enright, physical safety is not the only concern — prospecting is also a mental game.
"Normally I have my kelpie with me, and this time my kelpie is with my partner," he said.
"That's the hardest thing, being alone — it does take a toll."
But he said the buzz of striking gold was enough to keep him going.
"You feel excited, it's rejuvenated your energy, it gives you a strong direction to get up early again, to start all over again."
We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians and Traditional Custodians of the lands where we live, learn, and work.
This service may include material from Agence France-Presse (AFP), APTN, Reuters, AAP, CNN and the BBC World Service which is copyright and cannot be reproduced.
AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time which is 10 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)


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