Australia is famous for producing some large gold nuggets, including the largest one ever unearthed. Dubbed “Welcome Stranger,” it was found by two Cornish immigrant prospectors in Victoria.
The year was 1869, so Welcome Stranger was found and excavated the old-fashioned way without metal detectors. However, its location was rather conspicuous – nestled near a tree root about one inch below the earth’s surface. When prospectors John Deason and Richard Oates dug it up, they were stunned by the sheer mass of the nugget. In fact, there were no scales at the time large enough to weigh the nugget as is. A blacksmith was ordered to break Welcome Stranger into three chunks to make it more manageable. In all, Welcome Stranger weighed in at 2,315.5 troy ounces.
Naturally, as gold prospectors, the pair sold the find as soon as possible. Welcome Stranger was melted down and refined into ingots, then shipped off to the Bank of England for £9,381. At current gold prices the Welcome Stranger would be worth about 80 times more.
Although it no longer exists, the Welcome Stranger is not forgotten. A replica is on display at the City Museum in Melbourne and a small obelisk stands in the spot where the nugget was discovered.