The 26 September, 1980, is a date that will be forever etched in Bep Hillier’s mind. She and her husband Kevin were detecting, like they did most days throughout that spring, when they made a discovery that most gold prospectors only dream about. It was a Friday afternoon and after spending the morning detecting near Moliagul, and Rheola, they decided to stop at Kingower, on their way back to Bridgewater, to pick up their four kids from school.
The family had been living in a bus at the Bridgewater caravan park for five weeks while Kevin recovered from a back operation. It had been suggested by his doctor that he should walk every day to strengthen his back. Kevin followed his doctor’s orders and decided to kill two birds with one stone, and whilst walking, he decided to do some gold detecting at the same time.
A Faint Signal
When Kevin and Bep stopped at the Kingower State Park to continue detecting, they both went their separate ways. After some time, Bep thought she heard a scream. She lifted her headphones but heard nothing. She continued to detect and eventually wandered back to the car. That was when she heard the screaming again and Kevin calling out, ‘Darling, Darling!’ At first Bep thought Kevin had hurt himself and rushed through the bush to find him.
When she found Kevin, he was kneeling in the bush, and in tears. He was praying and looked shaken. He had heard a faint signal through his headphones and started digging. In front of him was a hole which revealed, what would turn out to be, just the tip of the gold nugget. They both started digging around the side of the nugget, which seemed to increase in size and never end. Finally, they did get to the bottom, and managed to lift out of the ground, a nugget weighing 27 kilograms. They placed it in the car and slowly started driving back towards Bridgewater in shock.
When Kevin and Bep arrived at the Bridgewater Caravan Park, they made sure the coast was clear before lifting their prize from the car. They placed the nugget in the kitchen basin inside the bus and waited for the kids to get home from school. They told one person, a close friend, who knew a gem dealer that could help them find a seller. For the next few days, they slept with the gold nugget hidden beneath their bed.
That day on the Victorian Goldfields, Kevin and Bep Hillier unearthed a gold nugget that would go on to fetch just over a million dollars when it was sold to the Golden Nugget Casino, Las Vegas. After the sale, the family moved to Western Australia, and purchased their first home. After three years, they decided to move back to Victoria, to be close to the Goldfields, where their luck began, and continued their love of prospecting.