Metal Detector: Exploring the Sunshine Coast

Story and images by Richard van Ryneveld

‘Why the hell are you digging up my lawn?’ My beloved was almost apoplectic with rage. It’s funny how ownership switches around when the selfsame lawn needs mowing − ‘Isn’t it time you mowed your lawn?’ But I digress. I had dug a pretty deep gat in the lawn… but I had found a R2 coin, after all. I was treasure-hunting for the first time in my life, and I’d been totally hooked from that first divot in the grass.

I was just back from our office in Cape Town, where George Olivier from Minelab had given me a pretty thorough demonstration of their new Minelab Safari metal detector. My mission, in turn, was to fly to Port Elizabeth, collect the latest offering from Opel (the new Opel Mokka SUV), a tent, and accessories from OZtrail. Then I had to go treasure-hunting along the Sunshine Coast. Stretching from Tsitsikamma to East London, this coastal area with its rivers, lakes, lagoons, sub-tropical forests, countless seaside hamlets − and especially the beaches − was just waiting to be explored.

I started the adventure at Pine Lodge, a couple of minutes’ drive from PE airport, bordering on the Cape Recife Nature Reserve. When studying the four-star graded caravan park on Google Earth, I’d seen that it was just a hundred metres from the beach. Driving along Marine Drive from Summerstrand, on my way to Pine Lodge, I stopped at a parking area on the beach. I reached into the back of the Opel, unzipped the Safari canvas carry bag and hauled out my detector. The treasure-hunting bug had bitten me as deeply as I’d been hooked by my passion for fishing.

The metal detector is quick and easy to set up, and soon I’d started sweeping the beach. After my assault on the lawn, I had taken the Minelab Safari out to practise on some old ruins in the Overberg, where I live. Near the remains of the mud brick walls, the Safari had beeped and buzzed like a Geiger counter at Chernobyl – it had found enough iron to open a scrap yard. I started learning how to use the ‘Discrimination’ setting found on an advanced detector like the Minelab Safari. If you are picking up too much of one kind of metal, you learn to cut this signal out. On that first night’s sweep of the beach in PE, I found a couple of R2 coins and a R5 coin. Plenty of bottle tops… but, like the newly addicted, I had the feeling that bullion, gold rings and, perhaps, a watch like Julius Malema’s Breitling awaited me the next morning.

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