Camper looking for birds finds coin worth $5,000

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Grey nomads finds rare coin at campsite near Leonora
Michael Cross with his lucky find. PIC: Kate Stephens/ABC

A man camping near Leonora  in Western Australia has stumbled across an 1865 Australian gold half sovereign worth a whopping $5,000.

Incredibly, Michael Cross wasn’t in the area looking for gold or other treasure like most others who camp there … he was there looking for birds.

Armed with a camera and binoculars rather than a metal detector, Mr Cross went to Malcolm Dam hoping to see something special up in the air, not down on the ground.

“It’s very dry up there at the moment, so birds do tend to congregate around permanent water,” he told the ABC. “I was walking back to the ute and I thought I saw a heap of old bottles, I was looking at the ground and I saw this gold coin just looking at me … it wouldn’t have been 10 metres from the dam wall.”

The find is even more incredible considering the number of fossickers who camp there while prospecting in the Goldfields.

“For the last 30 years there would have been thousands and thousands of people camped on that dam wall,” Mr Cross told the ABC. “There’s even a skip bin up there for campers, so the amount of traffic where this coin was, over the last any amount of years, would have been substantial … it’s just beyond belief that this coin could be sitting on top of the ground, being as available as it was.”

The gold half sovereign was the equivalent to today’s $2 coin in that it was the coin that people used on a day-to-day basis. The coin found is apparently one of around 62,000 made and would fetch several thousand dollars … however, it is not for sale.

“I certainly don’t want to get rid of it — I wouldn’t trade a coin for money,” Mr Cross told the ABC. “Maybe one of my grandkids will have it, but I’ll just keep it as a souvenir piece and maybe a good conversation piece.”

  • What interesting things have you found on your travels, perhaps when you weren’t even looking? Comment below.
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