Everyone dreams of finding hidden treasure and becoming rich. As it turns out, you actually can. From Australia to USA, there are many places around the world that let visitors come and look for buried treasure like gold, diamonds and gemstones. And if you’re lucky, you might even go on holiday and come back richer than when you left!
Unearth ancient coins in England There may not be a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow, but there are apparently quite a few buried in the fields and forests of the English countryside. If you find one, apart from making some serious money, you’ll be making history as well. England is very keen on piecing together their archaeological past using the bits and baubles that are discovered by archaeologists and treasure hunters. How to do it: All you need is a metal detector and a dash of luck. Make sure that you take permission from the landowner if you are searching on private property, and that you register anything that you find with the authorities. If by some (not so unlikely) miracle you happen to find a mother lode with a number of coins in the same place, it’s best to report it and let them do the excavation rather than seek instant gratification. You’ll gain a lot of favour with British archaeologists, who are always complaining about treasure seekers destroying the integrity of historical sites.
‘Noodle’ for opals in Coober Pedy If you ever find yourself in this little corner of the world, you’ll find out that noodling is a possibly lucrative but definitely fun activity that has nothing whatsoever to do with noodles. It is actually the word used by locals for opal hunting. Coober Pedy is the opal capital of the world and has been producing the world’s best opals ever since it was founded in 1915. An unusual town, its name is derived from the Aborigine words ‘kupa-piti,’ meaning ‘white man in a hole.’ Don’t be surprised if you go there and don’t see too many people around, just check underground. The people of Coober Pedy escape the desert heat by burrowing into the homes, hotels, restaurants, bars and churches that they have built underground. How to do it: Anyone can come and noodle through the debris from the mine dumps, looking for opals that have been overlooked. In fact, the locals make a fair amount of money by noodling themselves, since it is only the mining corporations that require permits from the Australian government. (www.cooberpedy.sa.gov.au)
Dive for antiques in Florida Florida’s coast is known for three things—wrinkled retirees, crazy parties and scuba diving. So the next time you find yourself under the blue waters of the sunshine state wearing a wetsuit, flippers and an oxygen tank, skip the tour of the reef and head for the shipwrecks. Sunk decades ago by hurricanes, or even more excitingly, in sea battles with pirates, these ships were carrying precious cargo, a good deal of which is still missing. From pottery shards to silverware and exquisite jewellery, there’s no telling what you may find. How to do it: Before you dive, find out the legalities regarding any treasure you might find, and consult with the locals on when and where you should and should not be diving. There are numerous tour operators who will rent you the diving equipment you need and take you out to the reef, like Force-e (www.force-e.com). There are even special diving courses, just for wreck diving, since being around sunken ships can be dangerous without proper training. For example, at the South Florida Diving Headquarters (www.southfloridadiving.com) they have a two-day course for $275 (Rs16,949), which includes four dives, where they teach you how to handle the sharp jagged edges, overhead structures, silt, and possible unstable areas.
Go gold-spotting in Victoria Spending some time roaming around Australia’s Golden Triangle could actually be a profitable pastime. With the possibility of gold lurking in the brush, it’s an exciting place to be. If you are truly lucky, you might find some of the yellow metal. But in case you don’t, the Aussie outback, with its fiery sunsets and mobs of kangaroo will make for memories to treasure. How to do it: Whether you are a beginner who’s eager to prospect for the first time, or a veteran looking for newer pastures, signing up with a prospecting firm that also conducts tours is a good idea; you will be able to join them in prospecting for gold rather than applying for your own permit from the Australian government. They will lend you their equipment, teach you the correct way to search for gold, and in some cases provide your lodging and meals. Some of the options are The Gold and Relics Company (www.goldandrelics.com.au), Golden Triangle Tours (www.goldentriangletours.com.au) and Gold Prospecting Australia (www.goldprospectingaustralia.com.au)
Dig for diamonds in Arkansas, US The Crater of Diamonds State Park is the only diamond producing site in the world that is open to visitors. Happily, they have a finders-keepers policy, allowing you to keep anything you find here, regardless of how valuable it is. Buried under the soil of the park are white, yellow and brown coloured diamonds in addition to various other rocks and minerals, including amethyst, garnet and quartz. Originally the surface of an eroded volcanic crater, the 37 acre site saw many unsuccessful mining ventures, before it was converted to a state park. How to do it: The park has a centre from where you can rent all the equipment you need to dig, as well as people who will teach you techniques if it’s your first time. Your chances of finding something are actually pretty high—on average, two diamonds are found every day! They will verify whether you have found a real diamond or not, and if you have, they will even certify it for you. (www.craterofdiamondsstatepark.com)
Geocaching, India If it’s the thrill of the chase that excites you, rather than actual treasure, Geocaching is for you. A 24x7 worldwide treasure hunt happening 365 days a year, Geocaching has a community of over six million travellers who use the website to post coordinates of places where they leave geocaches for other travellers to find. How to do it: Sign up with the website, select a geocache you would like to visit and use a GPS device to get yourself there. Typical geocaches are just a container with a logbook and pencil, for you to add your name there when you find it. Other geocaches may have a small trinket in them, which you can keep for yourself, if you replace it with another one of equal or greater value. You are welcome to hide your own geocaches as well, by making a container, placing it somewhere and uploading those coordinates to the map. If you hide a trinket you can even log its travels online, tracking it as it journeys across the world. You can even assign it goal, like travelling to a certain country, and then it’s up to your fellow geocachers to help you realise it. For more information, visit www.geocaching.com
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