By Peter Douglas
The Yarra River alongside Warburton has the potential to become a tourism gold mine, quite literally, according to a long-time prospector.
President of the Victorian Prospectors and Miners Association, Olly Oleszek, said it came as no surprise he struck gold recently while trying to locate a missing wedding ring in the section of river behind the town’s bakery.
Swimmer Michael Rummery had been playing in the river over Christmas and had forgotten to take off his ring, later discovering it had slipped off from his finger.
Subsequently, he called on the services of Mr Oleszek, who dutifully headed to Warburton on Sunday 7 January to conduct a thorough search.
“We used underwater detection gear and there were plenty of buzzes. We found plenty of coins, lead-shot, bullets, but unfortunately no wedding ring,” he said.
“We did find some gold, though. I’d say about half a gram of gold that I’d estimate to be valued at $25. But I reckon if I’d spent all day there, I could’ve found up to four grams of gold.”
Mr Oleszek said there had been many mining claims in the region in the early 1900s, including exactly where the gold had been found.
“I was confident there would be gold there. Right up through Millgrove, and even right throughout the Yarra River, there is plenty there. There is plenty of good colour in the river at Warburton.”
Mr Oleszek said he is planning another attempt to find the ring next month, when he will bring more prospectors and when the river is lower.
Meanwhile, he said the find proves that potential exists for gold to become a big tourism attraction for the town, even saying it could be as big as Sovereign Hill in Ballarat.
He believes that millions of dollars of gold could be sitting undiscovered throughout the entire Yarra River.