Grey nomad meteorite hunter off on an out-of-this-world adventure

Published: March 22, 2022

Another fragment of a meteorite has just been found on a remote cattle station on the Nullarbor Plain … and it’s getting some grey nomads pretty excited.

When a lump of space rock – or meteoroid – survives a trip through Earth’s atmosphere and hits the ground, it’s then called a meteorite.

On average, one falls to Earth every day, mostly landing in the ocean or in remote areas. And there are a few hardy souls who are ‘driven’ to seek them out.

Seamus Anderson, a researcher at Curtin University, used drones and artificial intelligence technology to find the latest Nullarbor meteorite, which he said fell to Earth last April.

“Because it was a fresh meteorite, it had sort of a black, almost glassy surface that had very, very small cracks in it,” he said.

But it’s not just the boffins using high-tech equipment who are on the hunt for meteorites.

meteorite hunter

Star enthusiast, Bill Ricketts.

As many meteorites contain metallic iron, grey nomad Bill Ricketts says he uses magnets from old speakers to help him identify space rocks.

A lifelong astronomy enthusiast, the highlight of Bill’s around-Australia adventures has been gazing into the night sky … and looking for what falls out of it.

Having recently sold his farm in Victoria, Bill is now heading off on a full-time space odyssey.

“I’ll basically be starting at Port Augusta in South Australia and going up the old Ghan railway,” he said. “Along the way I will be scouting campsites for meteorites and evidence of Aboriginal occupation.”

Bill is also fascinated with Aboriginal astronomy, an interest that started when doing the Big Lap in 2010.

“As I laid back at night, I pondered the view that Aboriginals would have had,” he said. “And I knew they would have their own stories and beliefs about the sky, and I was keen to learn more.”

Grey nomad membership

Bill is setting off on his epic, endless adventure in a few weeks and he hopes that other travellers might be interested in tagging along with him.

He says that, at least as far as he is concerned, hunting for space rocks beats doing crosswords or fishing hands down!

  • If you might be interested in ‘tagging along’ on a meteorite-hunting adventure with Bill, email the Grey Nomads here and we will pass on your details.
  • Are you a night sky enthusiast? How does it enhance your Big Lap adventures? Comment below.
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