September, 30 2012
Marble Bar Rd, before Marble Bar
Ketaki Sheth
Photography

Rodney

 

It’s a good feeling to find gold, but greed ruins a lot of people, I had one bloke who got his company plane and every weekend, he’d be tracking me, following me around when I went out looking. There’s a story in Marble Bar about a bloke who found a huge gold bar, he went to the Iron Clad to celebrate and asked the bar tender to put the gold behind the bar and got blind drunk. He forgot about the bar and walked home where he passed out and hit his head on the pavement, next morning he woke up with a giant lump on his head and thought he’d been mugged so he went to the police.

I go looking for gold as a hobby on the weekends, but I still make money from it, the biggest piece was worth ten ounces, which would be valued at $16,000 and the nugget I’m holding in the photograph is worth $10,000. It’s the local Aboriginal people who know where to go; they’ve found bars worth about $100,000. I’ve been putting the gold away for my retirement, but if I want to sell I go to the Perth Mint and there are also buyers from Victoria and New South Wales. I’m in the process of buying a farm near Bundaberg, it’s a hobby farm; everything will be organic.

I was born in Wollongong, New South Wales. I travelled around Australia with my family and back to Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory. By the time I was 14 my parents had split. I moved to Alice Springs with my mother, two brothers and a sister. I was doing labouring jobs and over the years have worked all over Australia, except Tasmania. I’d heard about the fishing and mud crabbing on the coast in Hedland so I decided to make a trip there. Working in Port Hedland I met my current boss who showed me some gold nuggets in a jar that he’d found with a metal detector near Marble Bar, which is in the main centre for gold in the Pilbara. Gold is found in a 120 kilometre radius around the town. He offered me a job at Marble Bar Electrical, and I thought ‘why not’, I was going to stay for 12 months and in that time I found some gold and bought a house; that was in 2003, I liked Marble Bar, it’s a quiet town.

I joined FESA and after three or four years I inherited the captaincy. Most members are transient. In 2011 I won Emergency Volunteer of the Year. We attend to vehicle accidents, fire searches and look for missing people. My work involves labouring, concreting, fencing, building, plumbing, operating trucks and backhoes - a jack of all trades and a master of none.

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