A Trio of Great Finds
The one thing that metal detecting is sure to do is spark an interest in Australian history. I was never much of a history buff but at school but when you unearth an unexpected item while detecting and you are actually holding history in the palm of your hand, it’s much more exciting than poring over some musty old textbook.
I was detecting a Victorian era picnic site when the E-Trac gave a lovely mellow signal on a target about six inches down. I carefully carved my plug and removed the topsoil. I kept on digging and when the probe told me I was close, I took extra care with the Lesche digging tool as more than one coin has been nicked or ‘kissed’ by a wayward scoop. As I honed in on my target I saw a flash of gold. Was it that elusive sovereign or half sovereign. The gloat meter was already in overdrive but the smug email to my brother-in law Marty would have to wait. How quickly hope eternal fades to nothing.
The gold I’d seen was the edge of a gilt medallion commemorating the Federation of Australia. The reverse showed Lord Hopetoun, who was Australia’s first Governor General. Hopetoun had previously held the role of Governor of Victoria from 1889 to 1895 and was seen as the natural choice for this inaugural position. It was his responsibility to appoint Australia’s first Prime Minister on January 1st, 1901, to head an interim government until the first federal election was held in March of that year. That’s right, our first Prime Minister was not elected but appointed! Unfortunately he managed to stuff this up by appointing Sir William Lyne who had actively campaigned against Federation. Lyne was unable to form a government and Hopetoun had to suffer the embarrassment of proffering the role to his second candidate, Edmund Barton. Barton was a more popular choice as he had been instrumental in the drafting of our constitution and a leader of the Federation movement. Hopetoun only held the position till 1902 when he resigned due to a conflict over his pay entitlements.