Randell finds fortune in friendship

METAL DETECTING: Kerry Randell has found fun and friendship at the South East Detectors Club. Picture Jeff Huddlestone

Jeff Huddlestone

Kerry Randell’s long term interest in prospecting and metal detection was renewed last year after the passing of his wife of 55 years and his resultant need of friendship.

“There was nobody around doing panning or sluicing, so I got in touch with the local club,” he said.

“They’re the best bunch of guys I could ever find.”

Born in Sydney in 1944, Mr Randell, who is the eldest of three siblings, was educated at Annandale Primary and Roselle High Schools and before joining the army.

“It was a good grounding and taught me a lot of things,” he said.

Mr Randell was a Corporal in the head office at Victoria barracks, he married in 1966 and has five children.

In the civilian workforce, Kerry spent 40 years in the Occupational Health and Safety sector, advising and writing policy and procedure documents for companies.

As a member of the South East Detectors Club in Mount Gambier/ Berrin, the 79-year-old joins in on trips and attends monthly meetings at Hastings Cunningham Reserve.

“We visit various locations in which to detect metal,” he said.

“Everyone gets a tray to put their finds on at the meeting and we all vote for them.

“Finds include coins, bottle caps and ring-pull tabs, but no gold.”

Equipment includes a shovel, a detector with headphones, a smaller hand-held device and a special machine for beach searching.

Mr Randell said the best thing about the detectors club was definitely the friendships, which far outweighed any potential fortunes people may make in the metal detecting game.

“It’s a hobby, that’s all,” he said.

“Some people take it too seriously and put a lot of money into it, it’ll never pay.”

The club’s next major detection activity is at the Mount Gambier Showgrounds on May 26, where it has exclusive detecting rights following events including the Great Moscow Circus, Fantasy Medieval Fair and Mount Gambier Show.

“We go through the carpark and other areas, and last year I made $12,” he said.

His favourite find was a 1930 penny, unearthed at a showground near Bathurst, New South Wales.

“I keep it with me all the time,” he said.

But Mr Randell’s most famous detection was a 1893 Bannock County, Idaho, Deputy Sheriff badge, found in the mid 1960s at Sofala, also in the Bathurst Regional Council area.

It was stored in a drawer at Mr Randell’s home for about 20 years, before he did some research on its origin.

He offered to return it to the Bannock County Sheriff and the American authorities paid for and hosted a trip, which Mr Randell undertook in 1988.

“I didn’t realise that 10 cents worth of brass would be worth so much,” he said.

Mr Randell said anyone could get involved in metal detecting, but he had some advice.

“Only leave footprints, don’t leave holes and always get permission to detect on private land,” he said.

“If you’re not sure on how to use the equipment come down to the club and we’ll teach you.”