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  My testimony - Paul Wohrman,

Back home
after a busy five weeks on the West    Australian goldfields with host Bill Denheld.

I went on a wonderful trip to the place I always wanted to go. I flew to Melbourne and was picked by my contact there Bill Denheld. I had read an article in GPAA magazine about this man taking prospectors to the Western Australia, so I took him up on it.

Tools of trade, MineLab GPX with Coiltek Mono coil, GPS in pocket, walkie talkie around my neck, handy pick, ready to go. This was our everyday start.
I am standing on a lone hill in the middle of central West Australia. The isolation and vastness of this country is astonishing. However, great care is taken to be safe around these parts, we're hundreds of miles outback


We drove all the way across Australia about 2000 miles, or 3000 km and stopped at various locations like the Ballarat Gold Museum which had models of all the famous largest solid gold nugget ever found in the world, the 'Welcome Stranger', weighing 2520 troy oz of gold. (78 KG) 
Image  - http://www.ironicon.com.au/images/welcome-stranger.JPG

Another large nugget, The 'Hand of Faith with Bill pointing to it, that he is sure he detected in an old diggers hole behind a school in country Victoria, at a town named 'Kingower' during the 1980's. He tells me he walked away from the signal due to heat exhaustion after digging two previous deep holes there only to find iron rubbish.
Image - http://www.ironicon.com.au/images/hand-of-faith-nugget-was-missed-by-bill.jpg

A great deal of Australian gold is big, huge by any standard.
Western Australia has some of the most beautiful scenery and geology that I have ever seen.

Bill was an outstanding host, very hospitable and an all round good 'bloke'. His knowledge on Geology is outstanding, and we visited places where he has had luck in the past as well as new remote ground. This fact makes a trip like this all the more appealing. We used Google Earth and last century historical gold maps and records loaded into a real travel time Geology map Tracker as we drove around that helped us pin point potential search areas.

Bill had applied for all the necessary permits well before I arrived, and spends a lot of time preparing for his trips, and it was so much fun that I will be going back next year, so if anyone wants to join me and meet up with Bill just let me know. The best time is during cooler winter months June, July. August with temperatures ranging 60 to 80 degrees F. I would recommend to anyone to think about it. The cost is no more than if you joined a tourist package to some 'canned' overseas country sight seeing. There is always the chance you may more than pay for your trip but with absolutely no guarantees, but consider you have a ticket in the lottery is how I see it.

Our trip. Bill had planned to spend the first week in the Ora Banda area, except we learned from an acquaintance, gold miners working there they had claimed rights over most of the ground that Bill was interested in, meaning, most of that territory would be out of bounds although we had their permission to be there, but we decided it would be too much of an intrusion. And as well, the main road had been closed due to flooding. As an alternative Bill had selected an out of the way secluded area named Pykes Hollow on the shore of Lake Carey between Leonora and Laverton WA some 300 km north east.

To Pykes Hollow. As we approached the turn off the weather was great and we seemed to have beaten a southern ocean bad weather front that had spread over most of southern parts of WA. Pykes Hollow was much higher up, and as its name suggests this place is a hollow in a huge sea of desert country that drains into Lake Carey. Please click on the links below to see the pictures.

Image from Google Earth of Lake Carey

We were about 100 km down a narrow barely used track that swept around to our selected area where we made camp.
Image http://www.ironicon.com.au/images/camp-at-pykes-hollow.jpg
During mornings and nights some emus came by-
Image http://www.ironicon.com.au/images/emu-pykes-hollow.jpg

I managed to find myself a huge target at the Hollow for which I needed Bills help. The ground was hard. My detected target was excellent unlike some earlier ones and seemed too good to be true. I started to dig it for while but it got too much and we took turns. As a joke Bill advised the deal had changed and if he helped me dig I would have to share some of it, but it was always ' I keep what I find' even if it was a 100 oz nugget, and this was sure to be the big one. Image

To record and savour the moment Bill went and got the car close and he kept taking pictures of my great find. Wide image http://www.ironicon.com.au/images/IMGP3530-pauls-find.jpg

We had to dig and chop through some very hard ground and 'natural cement' to 18 inches deep to get it out-http://www.ironicon.com.au/images/IMGP3536.JPG

The moral of this story is to never give up, but how in the heck could a 'coke can' get six feet along a rabbit warren. Right from the start Bill had a bad feeling about a big target signal amidst a rabbit warren. l was as deflated as a burst balloon.

Finally a huge storm front reached us up north and all across the middle of WA and the weather started to change.

Anyway, we ventured and detected from our camp until a constant drizzle of light rain became our concern. After the forth day we began to think we may not get out of this. We would pack up immediately and make a run for it but not before we took a 27 km test drive to test the track without the camper in case we got stuck as it would be impossible to turn the car and camper around, and all seemed ok. We quickly packed up and went for it. By this time the constant rain had softened the track to the point where some strong forward momentum assured passing through some very boggy diversionary track parts. All was well till we came to the main track out. We had became aware on our drive in that some had already gotten stuck, and during our camping there we had seen some four wheel drive vehicles and a large mobile home bus heading out to the main road that ran between Leonora and Laverton.

Our decision to get out proved correct as the 100 km journey out was slow but it was not till the last several hundred yards that we nearly floundered. This, our only exit road had been bogged down by the constant rain and this had turned the track into the worst bog imaginable. When we hit the quagmire with the Merc engine revving hard in second gear with the pedal on the floor, it almost stalled, but some how we got through.

A fortnight later we stopped by this section and took this picture.
Image- http://www.ironicon.com.au/images/last-bog-out.jpg

Ora Banda. We took refuge by heading back down south to now accessible Ora Banda, where a hotel and a near empty caravan park, we were able to wash up with hot showers and a powered site. The Ora-Banda area has produced a lot of gold in the past. We met up with the park owner's son in law whose friends had invited us to a gun shoot in an old gold pit nearby. I own several guns myself as did Bill. so we had a lot of fun with these fellows. Incidentally, the Ora Banda hotel is famous for a fire bombing several years ago when it was owned by a corrupt Perth city Police Detective who had set up the Mickleburg brothers for the alleged 'Great Perth Mint Swindle' back in the 1980's. Apparently a bikie gang took exception to the corrupt detective and had him blown up in Perth after the failed fire bombing of the Ora Banda hotel, Image- Ora Banda Hotel - (now repaired).                                          http://www.ironicon.com.au/images/ora-banda-hotel.jpg  

Heading on to Laverton and Burtville area.
A friend of Bill's, Mick Delany had told him he knew the manager of Laverton Downs Station - Mr. Keith Dudley, and we should pop in. Laverton Downs Stn was about 300 miles north and on arrival we were welcomed. The Downs is approximately 70 thousand acres , (or 28 thousand hectares) that sports some - but merge gold mining areas. The word was - a little gold had been found although of little consequence around these particular parts. The homestead had in early days been used for the first council meetings for district of Laverton, so named after Dr Laver whose interest in gold mining established the town. Hence Laver-ton.
Image - http://www.ironicon.com.au/images/laverton-downs-stn-wa2.jpg

We met Stn manager Keith after a long days drive and he accommodated us the first night in his managers house spare bedrooms which was great. This meant we did not need to put up the camper and tent after dark. In the morning Keith woke us early and invited us to an early morning walk, which we did. One striking feature of the Downs is the fantastic looking geology for gold. Another was the Sandal Wood shrubs that are prolific here and once supported a vast industry in WA as a major exportable commodity. Sandal wood oil being very fragrant had been used in incense for many centuries. Image, Keith and me at a Sandalwood bush. The wood is now protected by cutters quotas. - http://www.ironicon.com.au/images/keith-and-paul-3538.jpg

After taking long drives north, south east and west from our base camp at the Downs we soon realised many areas of gold country had been well done over during the past thirty years by detector operators. One other detectorist and assistant Downs manager accompanied us on our searches. His name is Tony Sharp and is author of several children's books.
Tony gave us a guided tour of the Down's few old gold worked areas and was keen to learn more himself about the geology, and he too had the latest MineLab GPX 5000 detector. Image,

Laverton Downs Stn while relatively close to other important gold discoveries in the district is a pastoral lease and currently to be 'drilled' by exploration mining companies. However, having permission from Downs manager Keith, to explore the country, word was 'very little gold' had been found here. To Bill there was no reason why gold could not be found anywhere here?

Bill felt the clue was to find an area of heavy black water worn ironstone gravels with quartz lying on a flat gentle slope where the bedrock sometimes pokes through to the surface, it had to be water worn pepper and salt gravels, and this had eluded us thus far. My stay had come to an end and I was to fly out in two days, and Bill had decided to start packing the camper as he would take me to the Kalgoorlie airport for my flight back home to New York.

The pack up day had started slow, and Bill suggested I go with Tony detecting. Tony had suggested to take his motor bike for a whiz around the bush looking for that black gravel Bill had told us about and Tony had said he remembered a likely area several miles away. Tony took Bills HemaHN6 GPS with geo maps loaded on his bike so we could later identify the area in Geo terms. Within 20 minutes Tony was back reporting he had found a likely area with water worn black gravels. Bill said he would continue packing up but suggested Tony take me so we could detect the place. Within an hour un expectedly we had big smiles on our faces - I had found gold exactly as predicted. http://www.ironicon.com.au/images/pauls-patch-first-gold.jpg

What to do? We went back to the downs and got Bill. He instantly dropped the packing and we spent the rest of the day detecting the area. All of us got gold that day. The saddest thing though was I was to be leaving the very next day.

The area was named Paul's Patch now proves gold can be found where no gold has been found before. Image - http://www.ironicon.com.au/images/pauls-patch_1237.jpg

The following day Bill drove me to Kalgoorlie for my flight out. During this time Tony was able to detect the area more thoroughly.  However, after my return home in the USA, Bill continues the story.

The day after Paul had flown out from Kalgoorlie,  Tony Sharp had spent the day exploring the vast area looking for similar ground detecting as he went. We are talking about thousands of Acres. It became apparent that Paul's Patch was a lucky find. So Bill and Tony decided to grid the place by dragging a chain attached to their belts, thus marking the ground as they went to be sure all gold along our tracks would  found. Bill informed me he let Tony decide the area he would chain. Image- http://www.ironicon.com.au/images/pauls-patch-tony1239.jpg  

Bill kept out of Tony's way because detectors too close together interfere with each other. After a while Bill had decided to go over to where he had previously found a little nugget on that yellow looking dirt some distance away from my 'Paul's Patch'. It was here that Bill found numerous other gold nuggets as marked by the xx's.
Image http://www.ironicon.com.au/images/pauls-patch-bills-spot.jpg

The significance of this yellow ground was 'all' the pepper and salt had been eroded away over thousands of years leaving only the heavier gold in crevices on the bedrock. Here then is some of the gold. Image of gold- http://www.ironicon.com.au/images/pauls-patxh-3539.JPG

To all those who think you need to be a rocket scientist, well it helps a little but utterly non essential.

Thanks to all those who made this trip possible.

Paul Wohrman.


     Header image, shows MineLab GPX detector with Nugget Finder 17inch elliptical coil