In January 1931, 17 year old Jim Larcombe discovered the largest gold nugget ever found in Western Australia. The nugget, named Golden Eagle for its resemblance to a bird, weighed 1,136 ounces or 32,200 grams. It measured over 620 millimeters in length and required two men to lift it properly.
Larcombe and his father, also Jim, had been prospecting in Larkinville, near Widgiemooltha, for a few weeks and were considering moving to richer ground when they unearthed a 2722 gram nugget. This find convinced them to stay in the area.
Larcombe Sr had spent the majority of his life prospecting for gold in Western Australia, primarily around Coolgardie and the surrounding goldfields where he had found plenty of gold.
On the day of the momentous find Larcombe Jr had dug less than half a metre before hitting something solid. Other diggers nearby reportedly heard a ‘terrific yell’ from Larcombe and rushed to the scene to find the teenager ‘staggering about with a massive slab of gold in his arms’.
Larkinville Gold Rush
The discovery of the Golden Eagle during the Great Depression caused a rush to the Widgiemooltha area.
The Larcombes sold the nugget to the State Government for £5,438, the equivalent of $470,000 today (2015). In the early days of gold mining, it was simply the gold content alone that determined the value of a nugget. Today a collector would pay a hefty premium for such a spectacular specimen.
At today’s gold price (November 2015) it would be worth $1,689,550 and with a premium of 20% the Golden Eagle would be worth just over $2M.
There is a cast replica of the nugget at the Western Australian School of Mines’ Mineral Museum in Kalgoorlie.
For further information read :
Bridge, Peter J., The Eagles Nest. Larkinville, the Golden Eagle, and the Great Depression, Hesperian Press, Carlisle, 1999.
Western Australia’s last great traditional gold rush occurred at Larkinville during the depths of the 1930s depression. The largest gold nugget found in Australia in the 20th century, the Golden Eagle, was discovered in the Larkinville rush.
This book covers in detail the 1930s at Larkinville. It contains a systematic collection of reports of the rush, descriptions of ‘Larkinville City’, details of all the known nuggets found there including the Golden Eagle, biographies of many of the prospectors (well indexed), and an examination of the prospecting schemes and political efforts to counteract the depression.
The Eagles Nest is heavily illustrated with more than 150 photographs and maps.