The Welcome Stranger is the biggest alluvial gold nugget found, which had a calculated refined weight of 97.14 kilograms (3,123 ozt). It measured 61 by 31 cm (24 by 12 in) and was discovered by prospectors John Deason and Richard Oates on 5 February 1869 at Moliagul, Victoria, Australia, about 14.6 kilometres (9 miles) north-west of Dunolly.
Found only 3 cm (1.2 in) below the surface, near the base of a tree on a slope leading to what was then known as Bulldog Gully, the nugget had a gross weight of 109.59 kilograms (3,523.5 ozt) (241 lb 10 oz). Its trimmed weight was 78 kilograms (2,520 ozt) (210 lbs), and its net weight was 72.02 kilograms (2,315.5 ozt) (192 lbs 11.5 oz).
Deason, Oates, and a few friends took the nugget to the London Chartered Bank of Australia, in Dunolly, which advanced them £9,000. Deason and Oates were finally paid an estimated £9,381 for their nugget, which became known as the "Welcome Stranger". At August 2019 gold prices, it would be worth US$3.4 million [2.3 million GBP]. It was heavier than the "Welcome Nugget" of 69.0 kilograms (2,217 ozt) that had been found in Ballarat in 1858. The goldfields warden F. K. Orme reported that 2,269 ounces (189 lbs 1 oz) 10 dwt 14 grains (70.5591 kg) of smelted gold had been obtained from it, irrespective of scraps that were given away by the finders, estimated as totalling another 47 ounces (3 lbs 11 oz) 7 dwt.
The nugget was soon melted down and the gold was sent as ingots to Melbourne for forwarding to the Bank of England. It left the country on board the steamship Reigate which departed on 21 February.
An obelisk commemorating the discovery of the "Welcome Stranger" was erected near the spot in 1897. A replica of the "Welcome Stranger" is in the City Museum, Treasury Place, Melbourne, Victoria; another replica is owned by descendants of John Deason.
John Deason was born in 1829 on the island of Tresco, Isles of Scilly, 45 km (28 mi) south-west of Cornwall, England, UK. In 1851, he was a tin dresser before becoming a gold miner. Deason continued with gold mining and workings most of his life and, although he became a store keeper at Moliagul, he lost a substantial proportion of his wealth through poor investments in gold mining. He bought a small farm near Moliagul where he lived until he died in 1915, aged 85 years.
Richard Oates was born about 1827 at Pendeen in Cornwall. After the 1869 find, Oates returned to the UK and married. He returned to Australia with his wife and they had four children. The Oates family, in 1895, purchased 3.2 square kilometres (800 acres) of land at Marong, Victoria, about 24 kilometres (15 mi) west of Bendigo, Victoria, which Oates farmed until his death in Marong in 1906, aged 79 years.
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- Potter, Terry F. (1999) The Welcome Stranger: a definitive account of the worlds largest alluvial gold nugget. ISBN 0-646-38709-X
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- Knight, Katherine (April 2000). "The Real Welcome Stranger Story". Gold-Net Australia Online. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
- "Mr John Deason". Scillonian.com. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
- "Unearthing the Welcome Stranger Nugget (picture)". State Library of Victoria. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
- "John (John Jenkins) DEASON". freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
- ""Welcome Stranger Nugget": Death of the Discoverer". The Western Argus. 19 October 1915. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
- "Richard OATES". freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
- Samueli, Michael (5 February 2015). "5 February 1869: World's biggest gold nugget is found". MoneyWeek. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
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