Treasure Enterprises of Australia

Australia's Oldest & Largest Supplier of Gold Prospecting and Treasure Hunting Equipment   (Established 1976)

We are Australia's leading professionals for Internet and Mail Orders


Postal address:   P.O. Box 383, Archerfield, Brisbane, Queensland, 4108, Australia







Gold Prospecting

Treasure Hunting

Buying Your First Metal Detector

Glossary of Terms





Welcome to the most exciting and profitable hobby in the world – Gold Prospecting!

In this day and age of electronics, gold prospecting (now termed Electronic Prospecting) has now taken a new turn for the better, and perhaps a little easier, than the old diggers had it over 150 years ago.

It must remembered that you will be using a metal detector. There is no such thing as a "gold detector" and as that name could imply, it would just locate gold only and no other metal – I am still waiting for that day! ..... and it's now 2014 !

As the name implies, a metal detector will locate all types of metal whether they be natural metals like: gold, silver, copper and platinum or man-made metals like: iron, aluminium, brass, alloyed precious and non-precious metals. A metal detector will give a better response on gold if it contains a higher percentage of copper, than gold if associated with silver.

This article has been prepared for those contemplating the purchase of their first metal detector.


There are many brands and models available on the market today than there were nearly 40 years ago when we first introduced metal detectors to Queensland.

 In those days, they were fairly simple to operate and when the true low frequency detectors appeared, we had to learn how to ground balance properly, which means that the iron mineralization in the ground had to be 'nulled' out in order to locate gold and other targets. This, in turn, provides greater depth without any erratic noises caused by this mineralization.

Times have changed rapidly in the past few years with the introduction of detectors with computer / microprocessor / pulse Induction / automatic ground balancing makes them easier to use. There are still detectors being manufactured with manual ground balance that can have advantages in some situations.

A lot of professional gold prospectors still prefer to have a manual ground balance metal detector ... the reason is this:  You can learn the ground and what it is doing. Does it contain more iron mineralization in one area than another. If the mineralization changes (but not visibly) you wouldn't know with an automatic ground balance metal detector as it would re-adjust itself to the ground conditions. Now ...  if you were using a manual ground balance detector  ... the change in mineralisation would be noticed ... the optimum tuning point would either go quiet or would go louder ... thus telling you that the mineralization has changed. Many times, I have found that in ground where the mineralization is greater it can actually lead you to find more gold!

To those people who are buying their first detector, we find there are many questions that are asked in relation to gold prospecting, so I hope that this information from many years of experience will prove useful to you.

Firstly, you must decide how much gold prospecting you will be doing and how serious you are going to be. There is another factor of course, and that depends on how much you are willing to spend!   If you are going around Australia (particularly if you intend visiting Western Australia and Victoria) and you have plenty of time, I suggest that you consider the Minelab GPX Series of Metal Detectors ...  but expect to pay well over $6000. 

Depending on which unit you choose, it can come with a variety of search coils and depending which search coil you use, digging up to around 5 to 6 feet deep or more is not uncommon for large targets. However, if you use a smaller sized search coil you will find very small nuggets  (far less than ¼ gram) just under the surface. Further details regarding depth on detectors will be explained shortly. These detectors operate better in areas of high mineralization and that’s where the best gold can still be found.

If you just want to go gold prospecting ‘on and off’ a little less seriously, but by the same token using a good, but slightly less expensive detector, I suggest a top quality VLF/TR Metal Detector. For those of you who wish to detect in either New South Wales or Queensland must remember that the goldfields in these two (2) States are far different from those in other southern and western States. The majority of goldfields are found on the eastern side of the Great Dividing Range. The mineralization isn't as severe than the others previously mentioned. 

However, should you wish to incorporate some form of treasure hunting with gold prospecting, the best all-round units would be a good quality VLF metal detector which has an All Metal mode with manual ground cancelling or if you prefer an automatic ground balance and a discriminator. However, it must be pointed out that if you are gold prospecting use only the All Metal mode.


The best mode to use for gold prospecting is of course, the "All Metal" mode, which, as it says, will locate all kinds of metal whether it be: gold, iron junk or other non-ferrous metals.

One important factor must be raised at this point, it is a control that bears the word "Discrimination". It is possibly the most misunderstood control by the new prospector. If you are prospecting seriously, my advice (like all professional prospectors) is to dig every signal. Remember, gold in its natural state is not highly electromagnetically conductive. Depending on the size of gold nugget and what position you have set your discrimination level to, you can easily reject it.

Gold in small quantities can occur with other sulphides if in a reef situation, so it is not advisable to use any discrimination as you will reject the gold!

Some detectors specially designed for gold prospecting, could have a discriminator or an iron reject switch fitted, so again, please be careful how you use these controls as they are only effective to certain depths and again, you could lose your gold. Again, I repeat, the best motto is to "dig everything" as you can never be sure.

If you would like to read more information on how to go gold prospecting with a metal detector or any other method, I refer you to other articles which I have written. 

These can be found Just go to the top of this page and click on to GOLD PROSPECTING INFORMATION and then click on to PROSPECTING TIPS.


I guess that the most commonly asked question about metal detectors is: "How deep will it go?". The best answer would be to ask you a similar question and that is: "How deep do you want to dig?" That question relates to what I’ve just said about the different types of detectors and coils. It is impossible for me to give you any actual depth on targets with any detector, as it depends on numerous factors, so in order to answer that question in general terms, I will list out some of the factors that can determine depth.

1.    It depends on the iron mineralization of the ground. Is it low, medium or heavy or even extremely mineralized ground?

2.    Moisture content of the soil. Is the Ground dry, wet or damp? .... the damper the ground ... the better the response.

3.    What time of the day you are detecting. This does make a difference .... it's a treasure hunter's and / or a prospectors secret.  Ask me sometime.

4.    Salt content of the ground ... if working in salt pan areas.

5.    Condition of your battery pack.

6.    The operating frequency of your detector (If you use a high frequency detector you will easily locate small targets but with limited depth but if you use a lower frequency detector you will locate larger objects at a greater depth).

7.    Size, shape and density of the target or gold nugget.

8.    How is the target or gold nugget buried?  on edge? sideways? flat? on an angle? Would you know the answer to these questions before you dig it up?

9.    Does the gold nugget contain more copper or silver?

10.   How long the target has been buried in the ground. This mainly relates to man-made metals. For instance: A ferrous (or non-ferrous depending on its associated alloys) object that has been buried for a period of time will give a better (and deeper) response than if it is freshly buried. The salts and acids in the ground attack the metal and this corrosion is absorbed in the soil around the target (commonly known as a "halo effect") thus giving a better signal. However, it must be remembered that gold in its natural state is less electromagnetically conductive so the depth for a detector on gold would be less than a man-made metal.

11.   The size of search coil being used.

12.    Detector operator’s skill.

13....... and there are many others ....

Therefore to sum up, the "rule of thumb" in regard to depth is: The larger the search coil, the greater the depth on larger targets and nuggets, whereas: the smaller the coil, a lesser depth but greater sensitivity on smaller nuggets.


When gold prospecting, there is quite a range of equipment that can be used. There is no need to take an army of digging tools with you, as there will be enough to take without loading yourself up with any unnecessary "stuff". The main tool that you will need is a type of hoe pick – a point on one end and a flat blade on the other, a shovel, a plastic gold pan which you hang from your webbing belt and possibly a lightweight geological hammer and a pouch or bottle to put your gold in. Another useful item is a magnet to find those annoying small iron magnetic pieces of junk. We have available a small cheap magnet that you can glue to the top of your pick handle – it comes in real handy!

Other important items you should have is a good set of headphones and a spare battery pack. Murphy’s Law seems to bob up when you least expect it – just when you find a good gold patch – the batteries run out!

If you would like to read more information on metal detectors, plus ... how to go gold prospecting with a metal detector or any other method, I refer you to other articles which I have written.

Just go to the top of this page and click on to GOLD PROSPECTING INFORMATION and then click on to PROSPECTING TIPS.


One of the best Australian books that should be read is Gold Prospecting’ by Douglas Stone as he gives information in layman’s terms. Another way to familiarize yourself with rocks and what they look like is to purchase a good rocks and minerals book. There are many available from our large range (the biggest in Australia) of new and second-hand books.

The ‘Gold & Ghosts’ range of books written by David W. de Havelland provide valuable information on the old gold areas and include maps. At present there are 2 books written on Western Australia and 2 books for Queensland (Southern & Central districts and North / North-western districts). Unfortunately, these books are now not available as new books, but we do have good second-hand copies from time to time. Please enquire!


This is one of the most important points that you should consider. There are hundreds of good books available from our extensive range of books covering every aspect of geology, gold prospecting, metal detecting plus many geological and topographical maps as well as "out of print" geological reports.

If you prefer to do your own research, visit the Geology Department at your nearest university or alternatively your state Department of Mines library where you will find all the information available. However, be prepared to spend a lot of time poring over the old reports and maps. Most of these are not available for sale as a lot of them are now out of print, so the information will have to be photocopied at a charge. 

For those of you in Queensland, I have provided the address and telephone number to save you looking it up.

Department of Natural Resources and Mines,

2nd Floor,   Mineral House,

41 George Street,

BRISBANE,   Queensland,  4000

Library:                         Tel: (07) 3234 8790

Publication / Sales:       Tel: (07) 3247 5869

Don’t forget to ask for the latest information on fossicking and regulations that they hand out free of charge. Queensland Fossicking Licences (Prices on application) are available from the Department or directly from us.

For those of you who live outside of Queensland, contact details of the Mines Department in your State or Territory can be found on our GOLD PROSPECTING INFORMATION page ... just click on this category at the top of this page ... and then go to AUSTRALIAN MINES DEPARTMENT CONTACTS.

Good Luck!

David Cooper

© 2014





Welcome again to another exciting and profitable hobby – Treasure Hunting!

Treasure Hunting is fast becoming one of the world’s most popular hobbies and relates to the searching for, and recovering of, an endless list of valuable items. This can be on land, on the beach or even under the water.

Probably the most important benefit derived for the treasure hunter is the health benefit of getting out of doors into the fresh air and sunshine away from the stress of work and day to day activities. Treasure hunting is relatively simple and can be quite profitable. The majority of people begin their hobby by coin hunting and this can lead to bigger and better things later on as you will learn in the course of reading this short article.


The main piece of equipment that you will need is a metal detector. There are many brands and models on the market today but to start off there is no need to pay a fortune unless you really want to. 

The main accessories that you will need are: a good set of headphones, a coin trowel, a small spade and a sand scoop if you intend going to the beach.


This is one of the main important activities that the treasure hunter should engage in. It is not much point buying a metal detector if you don’t know where you are going to use it! For your first outing I suggest that you pick an area to search close to your home. Have a look at some of the early maps to glean some information of what your area looked like in times past. The ideal place to look for this information would be at your local library, council or historical society. These will show where the old houses, shops and other buildings used to (or may still) stand. Old railway stations, schools, scout and guide huts, churches, parks, racecourses, picnic spots, playgrounds and even the local swimming hole. Some of the historical publications that have been published by clubs, schools and churches of the area can provide some important information.

If you have access to a state historical library, some of which are located in the major towns or cities – these can be a ‘gold mine’ for this type of information. You can spend many months on a single subject but it can be worth it in the end.


The answer to this question is "Anywhere!"

In essence, anywhere that people have been, you could find treasure of some description. It could be in the form of lost coins, jewellery, personal items or even items that have been lost around the yard that could now be regarded as relics. So, if you own a house that would be around 40 years old or more, there would be a chance in finding pre-decimal coins. That’s a start! Try around where the clothesline is, if you don’t happen to find any coins there, just try and imagine where the clothesline could have been. In the earlier houses, prior to the 1960’s, washing in some cases was just strung up between two trees or posts. I have found literally dozens and dozens of coins, badges and even some jewellery at these places. Whilst we are talking of old houses, the owners sometimes stashed some of their money in jars and buried in either the front or backyard, generally in a location where they could keep their eye on it. They even buried it the back corner where the chook house used to be. By doing that, the "occupants" would really make a racket if someone came near them. The old flowerbeds are ‘hot spots’ and should be checked too. I have found the odd ring or two there, which must have been lost when gardening. Check under any large trees with large overhanging branches, coins fell out of pockets of children either climbing trees or jumping off ropes. People often buried their valuables using fence posts as markers, and the posts either disappeared or they could not be identified again, hence leaving their treasure buried to this day.

Pay particular attention to the pathway from the front door to where the letterbox was, or even out to the footpath – this is also a haven for lost coins. Remember, a lot of tradesmen including the milkman and baker used to travel along this route, and in their haste used to drop the odd coin or two. In the early days children (and that included me) had a habit of playing around near the down-pipe – old toys can be found here. As a treasure hunter myself, I just stop and think of the possibilities where else you can also find treasure. Inside the house is another spot – within built-in cupboards and drawers, near fireplaces, hidey-holes in walls – the list is endless!


As I have mentioned above, coin hunting is possibly one of the most enjoyable facets of treasure hunting. Countless millions of coins have been lost and await recovery by the metal detector hobbyist. It appears that people are losing more coins today than the treasure hunter is finding. Coins are lost everywhere people go and coins are being found everywhere people have been!

To give you an idea what has been found: When the Brisbane Airport was being extended, the town of Cribb Island (here in Brisbane) was completely demolished – shops, school, halls, houses – the lot! Under the laundry floor of one old house a hoard of 81 gold sovereigns were found valued at over $20,000. Another treasure hunter found a tin of old coins buried under a concrete path of a house being demolished. Yet another treasure hunter found hundreds of pre-decimal coins and 3 sovereigns on an old abandoned country racetrack not far from Brisbane. There have been also numerous other large finds reported around Australia over the past few years.

The best time for coin hunting is a couple of days after heavy rain when the ground is moist and targets become more conductive. A point of interest: How many Australian coins have been circulated? The answer: Well over 20 + billion! How many have been lost or buried? The mind boggles!


This can be a varied subject. Treasure Hunting relates to finding valuables, relics and artefacts. Some treasure hunters prefer to find old convict relics whilst others search bushranger hideouts, ghost towns, old mining towns and so forth. Many a time a cache (pronounced ‘cash’) of coins or even gold nuggets buried in an old steel matchbox tin have been found around the foundations of a fireplace of an old bush hut or other places within close proximity or even under the bush lemon tree out the back. Old rubbish dumps are a good place to find old relics, old bottles and even coins. These are generally found about 100 metres away.

In the early days, there were numerous old hotels and coaching stops – these are ideal places to search for lost treasure. Again, research plays an important part. If you travelling the outback keep your eye out for large sheep stations and shearing sheds – the main pastime for the workers was "two-up" – lots of coins can be found here.


As the name implies: Beachcombing is combing the beach with a metal detector. A wide variety of valuables can be found ranging from rings, jewellery, watches and coins. The best time for beachcombing is about 2 hours before and after low tide – this enables you to search the area where people generally swim. Search both the dry and wet sand areas. You will of course find more trash items in the dry sand but not all trash is junk!

One treasure hunter detecting on a Queensland Sunshine Coast beach dug up a cigarette packet inside a plastic bag, which also contained over $10,000 of cut opals. Another treasure hunter found a jar full of two shilling pieces in a sand dune on a Queensland Gold Coast beach, which must have been buried for over 40 years! Another lucky find for another person was a $2,500 diamond ring found on his first day out.

A bonanza for the beachcomber is when rough weather and or cyclones or even strong westerly winds chop away at the sand dunes and banks exposing hundreds of coins and valuables. It is very important to use headphones when detecting, so you can hear those deep signals whilst eliminating the noise from the surf. Be sure to use a sand scoop and a trowel to avoid any nasties! Before detecting the beach proper, make sure you search the walkways that lead to the beach as numerous coins and goodies are found here.

For those of you who can’t get to the beach, don’t overlook searching inland lakes and recreation areas – people lose valuables here too! In either location, make sure you check out some of the following areas: under jetties, near boat ramps, rocky outcrops, sunbaking areas, under shady trees, around dressing sheds and picnic areas – it is amazing what you will find!

However, beaches are great, there are a lot of them and a lot of sand too. You can’t expect to hit the right spot every time out. The almost unending number of locations and areas to search time and time again with a detector makes beachcombing, perhaps, the most interesting and profitable hobby around – provided you know your detector, have some patience, persistence and a little luck!

As a treasure hunter myself, I love the outdoors, researching history as well as metal detecting. I started out when I was 10 years old (that 48+ years ago) wandering along the old Roman roads in England looking for that lost roman coin! Through the years I have detected in many countries around the world as well as throughout Australia and have come up with the same conclusion – it doesn’t matter which detector you use, what brand, whatever – it’s a matter of knowing and learning your metal detector – practice + experience = SUCCESS!

Good hunting!

David Cooper

© 2014





Some things to consider when buying your first detector:

To start, you’ll want to consider what you’d like to accomplish when detecting … what application would you be most interested in? Or, would you prefer to remain versatile with the metal detecting hobby? Ask yourself these questions before assessing the features you will need.

There are many applications for metal detecting including: relic hunting, cache hunting, coinshooting, jewellery hunting and beachcombing. Each one of these applications would predetermine what features you would be looking for in a potential detector. For instance, if you’re planning on coinshooting, you’ll want a detector with target ID / depth readout which will enhance your coinshooting capabilities. If you’re planning on relic hunting, you’ll want at the very least a non-motion all metals capability to delineate what you’re targeting.

As a stark beginner, you’ll want to start out on a turn-on-and-go type system that will not leave you frustrated with the hobby. Once you’ve tuned into the hobby with a basic system, you’ll have the competence to move on to more complicated systems and bypass the normal frustrations that are usually encountered when first starting out.

Make sure that you’re comfortable with both the warranty and the retailer where you’re purchasing your detector. When buying a detector, as is true with most anything, consider all facets of the purchase. It’s not only the unit that you’re purchasing, you’re also purchasing the service behind the unit or the personal instruction provided by the dealer … be sure to research your purchase … for starters, ask others who have used the same unit what their true opinions are and if their true opinions are and if they have had any problems with the difficulty in learning the detector.

The main points to consider:


Always read the fine print and make sure the length of the warranty covers both parts and service.

Difficulty in Operation:  

As a beginner, this should be one of your main concerns. Assess whether the detector is a turn-on-and-go system … or whether there is programming involved. At the very least, make sure the detector does have an auto mode … such as the Auto Notch available which is found on some of the Bounty Hunter models.


Considering the fact that as a detector user, you’ll have to haul around the equipment … and if you really get into the hobby, you’ll find yourself carrying the equipment for 8 to 10 hours straight. Carefully weigh in each detector you’d like ti purchase … a good weight balance also means that the detector has a easy centre of gravity … in that, it is not top or bottom heavy but balanced so that, as you swing your coil, it does not drag you down.


As is true with all products, reputation will always follow. Do your research through magazines, the Internet, other avid users, etc. In addition, remember that there are a lot of brand loyalists who may misinform you about other brands; if they’ve never used the detector, how can they formulate constructive opinions.

Regarding Used Metal Detectors:  

Be very careful when considering the purchase of a used unit … warranties are usually void, and you never know truly what you’re purchasing … how the detector was taken care of … whether it was properly stored … whether parts are still available … whether the electronics / features are obsolete … and on and on. Most likely, your best bet is to avoid purchasing an older, used detector. Additionally, many times, you can find a newer unit for the same price and have a new warranty and factory support to go along with it.

Remember, the most important aspect of purchasing your first detector: does it fill your needs? Others’ opinions, expert or otherwise, are irrelevant to the fact that you yourself will be using the detector … and, your opinion is the most important consideration.

Once you’ve settled on your detector of choice, GET OUT AND HAVE FUN !!! Approach the hobby with that sense of adventure you had in your childhood years. Don’t take the hobby so seriously that you lose that enchantment! Treasure finding is an art form, and every target has its promise. What entrances me the most is the excitement of not knowing what will come out of the ground next …

Keep your coil to the soil … Mickey


Mickey Cochran © 1999

Originally published in "Lost Treasure", January 1999





For those who are unsure as to metal detector terminology, the following GLOSSARY OF TERMS should help you.  

Control Box: This encloses the electronic circuitry of the detector. The control box generates the Tx (transmit) signals sent by the coil and processes the Rx (receive) signals detected by the coil. All user selectable functions are located on the front and rear panels of the control box.

Discrimination: The ability of a detector to determine if a located target is made from ferrous metal (iron or steel) or non-ferrous metal (non-magnetic).

Double-D Coils: Two windings of wire that overlap in the shape of two D's (one reversed). The characteristics of a Double-D coil are stability, especially in heavily mineralised ground, good depth and sensitivity and a very thorough search pattern.

Electromagnetic Field: Commonly called the 'signal from the coil'. An electromagnetic field is generated within the wire windings of the search coil and this field is pulsed or sent into the ground. The presence of a metal target in the ground will disturb the pattern of this field and this disturbance is sensed by the receive system of the detector and indicated to the operator by an audible 'beep'.

False Signals: These sound similar to target signals but are caused by other factors. Common causes for false signals are incorrect Ground Balance, hot rocks, signals caused by knocking the coil on obstacles, etc. With experience, the operator will learn methods to minimise false signals and to hear subtle differences between target signals and false signals.

Ferrous Metals: Metals composed of or containing iron. A ferrous item will be attracted to a magnet and is predominantly or completely made of iron or steel.

Ground Balance: The ability of the metal detector to compensate for the effects of ground mineralisation.   For instance: The GPX 500 has 'automatic Ground Balance'. When Ground Balance is used in the Tracking setting it continually compensates for changes in the ground mineralisation.

Halo Effect: After a metal object has remained undisturbed in the soil for a considerable amount of time, a diffusion occurs around the object. This has the effect of the object appearing to the detector to be a larger size.

Hot Rock: An individual rock which has a high degree of mineralisation in comparison to the surrounding ground around it. Due to this difference, the detector does not have the opportunity to Ground Balance to the individual hot rock so therefore gives a false signal. The signal will diminish rapidly by increasing the coil height above the hot rock.

Interference: Electricity or radio waves in the area being detected can cause instability or chattering of the Threshold. Interference commonly occurs due to power lines, underground cables, radar, other detectors or climatic conditions like thunderstorms.

Mineralisation: Most ground contains some minerals, which can cause false ground signals to be detected. Heavily mineralised ground requires different detector processing than does neutral or lightly mineralised ground. Ground containing heavy salt concentrations require entirely different processing again.

Monoloop Coils: Monoloop coils are the style of coil where the multiple strands of wire are wound in a single loop around the circumference of the coil. The field of search of Monoloop coils tends to be cone shaped. They provide greater depth and sensitivity compared to a Double-D coil of equivalent size in low to medium mineralisation.

Non-Ferrous Metals: Metals that do not contain significant levels of iron. Non-magnetic metals such as Gold, Silver, Copper, Brass, Lead or Aluminium.

Pinpoint: The method of determining the precise location of a target prior to digging. Pinpointing uses the design of the search coil windings to determine the exact position of the detected target.

Rx (Receive): Refers to the response or electromagnetic field which is received back by the coil and is used by the control box circuitry to detect a metal item in the ground.