Warwick retiree gets gold fever in outback
TONY Ternanov drove himself to Western Australia in search of gold, and he found it, but he almost didn't make it back.
After travelling more than 8000km in the vast dusty wilderness, Mr Ternanov checked himself into a hospital in Leinster in WA suffering terrible nosebleeds.
The attending doctor examined the 75-year-old thrillseeker and told him the constant breathing in of dust was causing respiratory complications and he needed to leave, wear a mask or risk long term complications including lung cancer. So after four months away from home, he left.
Mr Ternanov, 75, a Bulgarian immigrant, spent his life as a heavy truck mechanic in Young, New South Wales, before moving to Warwick five years ago.
Now retired and not at all interested in hanging around the house all day watching TV, Mr Ternanov spent $5500 on a metal detector and told a friend he was heading to the coast to comb the beaches.
"He told me Western Australia was the place to go so we organised a trip,” Mr Ternanov said.
"But then he postponed so I thought 'stuff it, I'll go by myself'.”
Armed with his detector, his trusty ute and a lot of enthusiasm Mr Ternanov set out from Warwick on March 29.
After about a week and $1000 in fuel Mr Ternanov tried to find some prospecting buddies in Kalgoorlie.
"They all told me to p*** off,” he said.
"So I moved on to a caravan park in Laverton and found some new friends.”
The party of six welcomed Mr Ternanov to tag along as over the next few months they travelled to 80 locations dotted across the WA outback.
"We'd spend a few days to a week in a spot and travel out in each direction from there each day, 20 or 30 kilometres,” he said.
"I'd walk several kilometres away from the road, always with my GPS handy.”
Unbeknown to the amateur gold-digger, his hi-tech metal detector emitted various sounds for various types of metal.
It wasn't until he was shown the difference that his efficiency and luck started to change.
"I found my first nugget right out in the scrub,” he said.
"It was 23g or .81 of an ounce.”
Yesterday gold prices were steady at about $1628 an ounce.
All up on his trip, Mr Ternanov found more than 18 ounces of gold, ranging from the largest two ounce nugget to hundreds of smaller ones.
Mr Ternanov said travelling through the outback was expensive.
"Onions were $1 each,” he said. "Fuel was $2.30 a litre and frozen bread was $7.
"We'd travel hundreds of kilometres from fresh water and fuel.”
Mr Ternanov has had enough of outback gold prospecting.
"I want to sell the van,” he said.
"I'll go to the beach next time, it's nicer and closer.”