The Laanecoorie Gold Bash

Published on 22 September 2017

Members of the prospecting community nationwide come together in a remarkable way each year in the Loddon Valley to celebrate their craft and support cancer research.

The Laanecoorie Gold Bash has become a fixture for hundreds of prospecting enthusiasts and their families since its humble beginnings in 2011 and now raises thousands of dollars every year for the work of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Foundation.

Planned for 6-8 October at the Laanecoorie Lakeside Park, the event honours the late Jim Stewart, former owner of the caravan park, who passed away from cancer in October 2013.

Scheduled activities include prospecting displays, stalls and equipment, gold panning and metal detecting for children, detector training for all skill levels, lectures, raffles, coin and token hunts and a live gold pour.

Gold buyers and first aid staff will be on-site, joined by a four-wheel-drive and camper display offering touring information and advice.

The legendary giant auction on the Saturday is a major contributor to the fundraising effort, bringing in $11,000 last year towards the total amount realised of $17,300.

The Laanecoorie Gold Bash began with a small group of prospecting friends getting together each year at the park then run by Mr Stewart and wife Robin.

After his death, the tradition of meeting up each year continued, with the fundraising focus shifting to cancer research.

Event co-ordinator Melissa Stopps, of St Arnaud, heads a small committee of active volunteers who hail from Melbourne, Laanecoorie, Heathcote, Maryborough and beyond.

“We have more than 40 individuals and businesses involved in the prospecting sector, along with Loddon Shire, who support us with donations of goods, funding and vouchers,” Ms Stopps said.

Last year, we had about 330 people participate, which was up from about 200 the time before. They came from all over Australia and even one from Washington!

“It would be great to get to 450 this year.

“The catering will be provided by the Lions Club of Carisbrook, including our traditional fish dinner on the Friday, while the caravan park does a roast for us the next day.

“We’ll also have a coffee van available.”

Another highlight of the weekend is the announcement of the winner of the Jim Stewart Memorial Award, presented to an individual who displays the kind of character qualities embodied by Mr Stewart.

Nominations close on Friday 8 September.

Visitors can stay in the caravan park or in a free camping area near the bridge; alternatively, many arrive just for the day.

For more details, phone Melissa Stopps on 0419 221 962 or the Laanecoorie Lakeside Park on (03) 5435 7303.

http://www.loddon.vic.gov.au/Lists/Events/2017-Laanecoorie-Gold-Bash .