A while ago I was at home looking on the internet when an old racecourse caught my eye. As I searched TROVE I became more intrigued. The racecourse had operated on and off for about 25 years and eventually closed about 1900 because of the distance it was from town. Searching old maps of the area revealed a “Racecourse Reserve”. It was on private property. I drove past the area several times for a look. In the past I have very rarely followed up on leads like this, but this time thought, blow it I'm going to try and find out who owns the land and ask permission to detect it. Armed with the research I knocked on the door of the closest house. No-one home, bother! I tried across the road and he was the cousin of the owner. A quick phone call to the owner, but no answer. The cousin was very interested in the research material and we talked for a while. The phone rang and the owner said yes, go for it. I did not have the detector with me. I mentioned to the cousin I would love to find a gold sovereign. We arranged that I would come for a look the following week.
On arriving at the property, the owner was there. We had a brief chat and then the hunt was on. But where to start? It was a big paddock with no clues at all. There were 2 possible roads where the entrance could have been, and all I knew was that horses in Victoria run anticlockwise around racecourses and the finish line is at the end of the straight. I would have liked a photo to give me some clues to where the finishing line might have been, because most of the people would gather around there, but none could be found. A spot was chosen, and after about 15 minutes a 186? half penny was found!
Bingo, I thought, I'm onto it. I GPS’ed the point and continued searching, going around and around, but the only other find was 2 cents! What is going on? This can't be the finish line. So back to the internet for some more research. One article mentioned a stand, and the owner said his father remembered a building over the other side of the paddock on a slight rise. Could that be the spot? Spending some time detecting around this new spot revealed coat hook, nails and bits of building material and part of an old mouth organ. Could there have been a band playing at the races to entertain the patrons? Could this be the site of the old stand? Then I found the first coin, a threepence from the 1880's, and then another from the same period, and then another. Yes, this is the spot! I ended up with 5 coins, all buried about 10 cm, and most from the 1880's.
There were still some questions though. Where was the entrance gate and are there any photos of the racetrack? No photos have yet been found, but after some more research, one line in a newspaper article mentioned that the “road should be finished between a certain property and the racecourse gate”. After speaking with the cousin, it was narrowed down to a particular spot, so I had a detect around there for a while, but without success. I still had some time, so I thought I would have another go near where most of the other coins had been found. After about 30 minutes I got a signal, a solid 18 sometimes 19 on the screen of the Equinox 800. So out with the Pro-Find 35 pin-pointer to locate it more accurately and start digging around the target. After digging about 8 cm down and taking out another clod of dirt, there it was, a gold coin. It was a sovereign! 1899 and in beautiful condition. One of my best finds ever.