About Metal Detecting

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Getting Started

Once you’ve made the decision to buy a metal detector and get home with it, you no doubt can’t wait to get started with some detecting. But where exactly should you start? You can take your detector with you practically anywhere – the opportunities are endless and limited only by your imagination. Finds can be made anywhere; you only need to take a look at any recent detecting magazine or website and you will see that there is an abundance of amazing finds being made. This shows there are still plenty of treasures waiting to be found, but some sites are more productive than others, so it helps to know the best type of places to go detecting. All it takes is a little bit of research to identify the most promising and productive goldfields or treasure hunting sites to detect.

There are many different types of valuable objects you can find with your metal detector, such as rare coins, ancient relics of past civilisations, lost jewellery and gold nuggets. Nuggets are generally found in different places to where you would typically find coins, relics or jewellery, so where you go detecting depends greatly on what you would like to find.


Ideal sources for research are the local library or historical society, Government Department of Mines, newspaper archives, local town plans, etc. Don’t forget to talk to the local elders. They’ll often tell you about the popular swimming holes they used when growing up, the field that used to be a sports ground or perhaps a park that was used as a local market. These links to the past are all potential hot spots for you and your detector. The older the site is, the better – as your potential to find coins and relics from long ago increases. Always remember to obtain permission to enter and detect on private property.

Also, find out if there is a detecting club in your area. Joining your local club is a great way to learn tips and tricks about how to detect and where to search. You can also make new friends who are passionate about detecting too.


Treasure Hunting

When detecting for coins, relics or jewellery, use your imagination – anywhere people are likely to have left things behind – you are likely to make good finds! Also, don’t forget the places right under your feet; you never know what you might dig up even in your own backyard. To help get you started here is a list of locations that are generally more productive for finding coins, relics or jewellery:

  • Showgrounds and racecourses
  • Picnic areas
  • Battlefields
  • Camping grounds
  • Swimming holes
  • Parks, playgrounds and school yards
  • Ploughed fields
  • Pastures
  • Woodlands
  • Ghost towns and ancient town sites
  • Old homes and public buildings
  • Sports grounds
  • Beaches
  • Jetties and piers

There is still plenty of treasure to be found in many interesting locations around the world.


Gold prospecting

The best places to detect for gold nuggets are where gold has previously been found, and surrounding areas with similar geology. So again, do your research to find out about historic goldfields. Such as:

  • Tailings from goldmine sites
  • Old diggings (areas where prospectors dug for gold in the 1800s)
  • In or near streams where gold can be panned
  • Dry-blowing locations (usually in arid areas where water was scarce)
  • Old reef mine dumps and slopes

There is plenty of gold waiting to be found. Now that you know where to search, all you need is a good detector to get started.

Detection Depth Factors

The most common question about metal detectors is ‘How deep do they go?’ The answer is not as simple as you might think and usually starts with ‘It depends...’ The depth that a metal detector can detect a target depends on a number of factors:

Ground Mineralisation

Ground Mineralisation

A target in low mineralised ground can be detected deeper than a target in highly mineralised ground. The level of ground mineralisation has a significant influence on detection depth.

Target Size

Target Size

Large targets can be detected deeper than small targets.

Target Shape

Target Shape

Circular shapes like coins and rings can be detected deeper than long thin shapes like nails.

Target Orientation

Target Orientation

A horizontal coin (e.g. lying flat) can be detected deeper than a vertical coin (e.g. on edge).

Target Material

Target Material

High conductive metals (e.g. silver) can be detected deeper than low conductive metals (e.g. lead).

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