Welcome Stranger: 150 Years
Release date: 26 February 2019
The Victorian gold rush of the mid-19th century attracted prospectors from all over the world eager to make their fortune. On 5 February 1869, Cornish miners John Deason and Richard Oates literally struck gold near the town of Moliagul with their remarkable discovery of the massive nugget known as the Welcome Stranger. Measuring approximately 61 centimetres by 31 centimetres, the nugget lay only three centimetres below the surface, near the base of a tree in Bulldog Gully goldfields. It had a gross weight of over 100 kilograms and after trimming was taken by spring cart to the London Chartered Bank in nearby Dunolly, where it had to be broken on an anvil to fit on the bank’s scales. The smelted nugget yielded 2,284 troy ounces (71 kilograms) of gold, for which the bank paid Deason and Oats £9,583 (today’s value would be nearly $4 million). Converted into ingots, the gold was transported to Melbourne, then loaded on the steamship Reigate for the voyage to the Bank of England.
An obelisk commemorating the discovery of the Welcome Stranger was erected near the spot in 1897. Several replicas of the nugget exist, including at Museum Victoria, Melbourne and the Natural History Museum, London.
The Welcome Stranger remains the largest alluvial gold nugget ever found. The second largest, the Welcome Nugget (69 kilograms), was found in Ballarat, Victoria, in 1858.
Read our interview with geologist Richard Maddocks
$1 Welcome Stranger discovered 1869
The stamp design, by John White of the Australia Post Design Studio, features a photograph by William Parker showing Richard Oates, John Deason, Catherine Deason and others re-enacting the discovery of the nugget at Moliagul in 1869. The stamp also shows a replica of the nugget at Sovereign Hill, Ballarat.