Way back in the dark ages of the early 1970’s I read an article in the newspaper of how treasure hunters had located Allied military bases that had been abandoned. The treasure hunters had found a stash of goods worth hundreds of thousands. This fuelled my desire to be one of theose treasure hunters who led a life of sailing Pacific atolls and recovering abandoned allied stuff that had been abandoned as it was more expensive to bring it home than to leave it when the war ended. Time paid full credit to the end of the last war and how the material of war was just left behind. That was the dreams of my youth in hunting for abandoned treasure and making a quid from it.
It did not go as imagined.
I never lived my Errol flyn adventures of sailing the seven seas but I did manage to explore the country I live in. Reflecting on this I have found treasures lost. I have dug gold and gems from forgotten seams, spec’d gold from ancient water courses, dug long forgotten towns and recovered bits and pieces of daily life. I found forgotten homes and towns that are now just paddocks, and dug the mementos of those lost days and dreams of those who struggled to carve a living from the land. I have found crashed planes from the last war complete with those who lost their lives. I have dug Jardines beach and found a huge old anchor at the top of Australia amongst other things. The most sobering thing to find is the grave of a child, lost to time but still intact in the bush and the realisation that people have historically struggled and sacrificed in the pursuit of something better.
At the end of it all I found that humanity is tenacious and fleeting in its adventures. As a species we will endure the most horrendous conditions in the hope of having something better. It is the timeless story of humanity. This is what creates forgotten and abandoned places.
I made a pact with a friend I made while working in the desert country of Queensland building a gas pipeline. The pact made, after a few years of digging up old Cobb & Co staging posts, and the occasional home brew session in his shed was that before our health degraded we would once more visit the desert country that had infiltrated our bones before we were too physically screwed to hunt treasure. We may not achieve this aim but it is a testament to us in that the places we love the most are the last places we want to see before we shuffle off this mortal coil. The desert country ingrains itself more than anything else when all is said and done and those memories are never forgotten.
I wouldn’t have missed a minute of my adventures for anything, yet the price paid for those adventures have taken a toll. I have found and given away a fortune in the lost treasures of the past. My health has been screwed by this life and yet it is without regret. Nothing like portayed in documentaries, but in the handing down of history as it is the right thing to do. We gave the local historical societies a collection of coins, tokens, and daily life dug from the local area as that is where it should remain in the hands of the locals it relates to. There is a multidude of places regardless of if it is by intent or by accident that these legacies were left to describe what came before us. That is what adventure is when it comes down to it, the realisation of a dream and not just the treasure and what you can get from it.
I stunbled into treasure hunting, as most people do, and it has been a mixed bag when it comes to the life you live. Many follow a path of building security and raising a family free from the uncertainty of life as much it stands. I followed a different path and it has been a challenge at times.
I remember my first awakening as I learnt that fools gold is not the real thing in ore samples from my digs. I learnt to find the homes of miners long gone, and dug for their buried wealth as was the norm back then to bury your wealth whatever that might be. I dug abandoned mine shafts and found gold. I learnt to see what was beyond the bush that had regrown to hide the ventures of humans and then seek what they had left behind.
I raised a child along the way and he may or may not understand what drives me. I seek the past as it stands and the payday that comes fom that. The payday is most often just a sense of doing the right thing rather than wealth. My son understands that the past can be a source of wealth and at the same time be source of unimaginable hardship.
My son will inherit my ‘memory trunk’ filled with the adventures of a lifetime and he will make of that what he will. The future will always be linked to the past and that is the legacy I leave my son in the hope he follows in my footsteps.