Pauline Conolly with replica of the Golden Eagle nugget
Would they notice if I rode off with it?

Many years ago one of my elderly Larcombe aunts sent me a yellowed newspaper cutting of a famous gold find in Western Australia,  It was  The Golden Eagle nugget, discovered  in 1931.  I  can only presume that the Jim Larcombe in the article was a distant relative.

The find was a symbol of hope during the Great Depression.  When Mrs Larcombe  was  first told, her  informant said it only weighed about 25oz.  It was feared she may collapse with shock if its true size  of  1,136oz (32.2  kilos) was revealed.

Father and son display the 'Eagle' gold nugget.
Father and son display the ‘Eagle’.

The nugget was actually found by Jim Larcombe’s 17 year old son, who had only been working with his father for about five weeks.  It was quite close to the surface, in an area where many people would have walked or driven  over it.   There is an urban myth that  when  the lad held it up his father said. ‘Put that dead bird down and keep digging, Jimmy!’   To be honest, it was far too heavy for Jimmy to have  lifted by himself.

The Larcombes were working a small claim  at  the Larkinville goldfield near Coolgardie.    A previous prospector had abandoned the claim after spending six weeks  on it without result.

The gold nugget being displayed in town, guarded by a policeman.
The nugget being displayed in town, guarded by a policeman.

Most people would have  lodged  the nugget in a bank vault, but Jim Larcombe had other ideas,

‘We’ll take it home’, he decided.  And so the Golden Eagle was transported to his humble  house. ‘I wanted to put the bedstead across the doorway,’ said Mrs Larcombe. ‘But Jim said ‘Don’t be silly,  it’ll be alright on the kitchen table.’    Quite sensibly, Mrs Larcombe was taking no risks. She made her husband put the nugget under the bed, and Jim Larcombe, tired out by weeks of hard work and excitement, was soon fast asleep.

At 4am Jim heard a noise and sat bolt upright. Good God, had someone broken in?  But it turned out to be his wife, trying to drag the huge nugget from under the bed.  She  hadn’t slept a wink, and told her husband  she was going to scrub it in the bath, to see if really was  gold.  ‘ Don’t  worry, it’s all gold alright’   Jim told her. He was worried  she was gong to rip the lino dragging it across the floor.  But Mrs Larcombe insisted on giving the nugget a good scrub in the bath, revealing the glistening  gold in all its glory.  By this time it was morning, and she  made Jim take his find straight to the bank.

Gold nugget found by J. Larcombe and his son.

After being offered six thousand pounds by a private collector, the Larcombes sold the Golden Eagle to the Western Australian Government for a similar sum. It was melted down to boost  the State’s coffers, but fortunately a replica was made. I had a chance to handle it at  The Perth Mint recently.

Pauline Conolly holding a replica of The gold nugget called the Golden Eagle.
A golden moment!

In true Aussie style the Larcombe family  bought a pub with the proceeds, calling  it THE GOLDEN EAGLE.

The Golden Eagle Hotel, funded by a huge gold nugget.

What else would a thirsty miner buy with his new found riches?

Of course the Golden Eagle did not come close to equalling  the largest ever alluvial gold nugget. It was found on 4 February 1869 at Moliagul in Victoria. This nugget weighed  an astonishing 71 kg .  Today it would be valued at around four  million dollars.

The lucky miners who found the famous Welcome Stranger gold nugget.
The lucky miners who found the famous Welcome Stranger gold nugget.

Now  it doesn’t quite equal the find by Jim Larcombe and  son , but my great-grandfather John Singleton once  struck gold on his property  called Springhill, near Ulverstone in Tasmania.

John Singleton, who found on;y 'gizzard gold!'
John Singleton, who found only ‘gizzard gold!’

The story was written up in The Examiner, on May 26 1908;


Mr J. Singleton of South Road, North-West Coast, had occasion a few days ago to kill some ducks, and in the gizzard of one of them were found several well worn specimens of a yellow metal, which Mr Allen, an Ulverstone Jeweller, has pronounced to be pure gold. The ducks are generally about a creek adjacent to the house, and it is supposed the metal was picked up by them in the bed of the stream. Years ago, says the N.W. Post, traces of the precious metal were found in the same creek.’

I’m sure it was really  my great-grandmother Emma who dressed the ducks!  Anyway, there was great excitement and  hopes of untold wealth, but sadly the family failed to find any more.  Oh dear, my life could have been so different.


Here is a link to another story about Australian Gold. It involves  Elizabeth Macquarie,  wife of one of our most well known early governors.


  1. A friend told me about a Victorian man finding a nugget. I think it’s just a recent find. I must do some more research. I can relate to Jim’s wife wanting it out of their house. You only have to mention gold and there’s a rush. The federal gov. over here is taking some of the BLM (public lands), for mineral claims. In my state they are opening up a large area of BLM land near the Nevada border where gold had be found a long time ago. Apparently, there have been positive amounts found with their searches. That’s about 15 miles from our town. I can see a mini gold rush beginning.

    • Pauline

      Hi Heather, yes someone found a 2 kilo nugget in Victoria this week using a metal detector. I think you should do some prospecting yourself!

  2. have included your blog in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at

    Thank you, Chris

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