Welcome Stranger

Welcome Stranger

The "Welcome Stranger" was the name given to a large gold nugget, measuring 61 cm by 31 cm, discovered by John Deason and Richard Oates at Moliagul, Victoria, Australia on 5 February 1869 about 9 miles north-west of Dunolly. Found only 2 inches (5 centimetres) below the surface on a slope leading to what was then known as Bulldog Gully. It weighed 2316 troy ounces or 72.04 kg. It is the largest alluvial gold found in the world.

The goldfields warden F. K. Orme reported 2268 ounces 10 dwt 14 grains (70.5591 kg) of smelted gold obtained from it (97.9% of the total weight), irrespective of scraps that were given away by the finders.

At the time of the discovery there were no scales capable of weighing a nugget of this size and it was broken into three pieces on an anvil for weighing by Dunolly-based blacksmith Archibald Walls.

They took the nugget to the London Chartered Bank, in Dunolly, which advanced them £9,000. Deason and Oates were paid £19,068 (about £1,391,964 today) for their nugget which became known as the "Welcome Stranger". It was bigger than the "Welcome Nugget" (of 2217 ounces/68.96 kg) found in Ballarat in 1858.

An obelisk commemorating the discovery of the "Welcome Stranger" was erected near the spot in 1897.

John Deason (Deeson) was born in 1829 at Tresco, Isles of Scilly, Cornwall, England. Prior to being a gold miner, in 1851 he was a tin dresser.

[http://www.comp.utas.edu.au/users/rsmith/scilly/deason/ps06/ps06_023.html] Deason continued with gold mining and workings most of his life and although becoming a store keeper at Moliagul. He lost a substantial proportion of his wealth through poor investments in gold mining. He bought a small farm near Moliagul where he lived at the end of his life and died in 1915, aged 85 years.

Richard Oates was born about 1831 at Pendeen, Cornwall, England. [http://www.comp.utas.edu.au/users/rsmith/scilly/oates/ps14/ps14_453.html] Dead link|date=August 2008 After the 1869 find Oates returned to England and married. He returned with his wife to Australia where they had four children. The Oates family purchased 800 acres (3.2 km²) of land at Marong in 1895 about 15 miles (25 km) west of Bendigo, Victoria, and Oates farmed until his death at Marong, Victoria in 1906 aged 75 years.

A replica of the "Welcome Stranger" can be found at the City Museum in Treasury Place, in Melbourne, Victoria.

External references

* [http://www.sbs.com.au/gold/story.html?storyid=122 Article on Australian gold nuggets]
* [http://www.comp.utas.edu.au/users/rsmith/scilly/welcome.html Links to information about John Deason and Richard Oates and the finding of the nugget]
* [http://www.gold-net.com.au/archivemagazines/apr20/85439743.html#13 Description of the finding of the nugget and the subsequent history of Oates and Deason]
*cite|author=Grahame Allen|title=Inflation: the value of the pound 1750-2002|publisher=Economic Policy and Statistics Section/House of Commons Library|date=2004-07-31

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