Fifty years after finding his first golden nugget, a former farmer and part-time prospector from Western Australia, has struck gold winning $500,000 of gold bullion in Endeavour Foundation’s Ultimate Life Changer lottery.
“The first nugget I found was back in 1972, I think, in Tibooburra in the north-west corner of New South Wales, right out where Queensland joins with South Australia and New South Wales,” remembered Don, now in his 80s.
“But there’s been a lot of dirt between the gold nuggets, let me tell you – it’s a lot of hard work to find it.
“I’ve still got one nugget that I would never sell – it’s worth about $2,600 in today’s prices though it’s not much bigger than your thumb nail.
“You can’t beat holding a lump of gold like that.”
Well, that’s until you win a whopping 5.3 kilograms of gold bullion.
“It’s something you never think of – you never think of winning it,” said Don, about his half-million-dollar prize haul.
Originally from New South Wales, Don made the move to Western Australia 12 years ago. He now lives in the hills on the outskirts of Perth and works for his son’s transport company.
When Don received news of his win after the lottery was drawn at Endeavour Foundation HQ in Brisbane, it, not surprisingly, came as quite a shock.
“I was at work when I heard, and I had to sit down.”
“I’ve never won anything, so it was certainly out of the blue, that’s for sure,” he said.
After he’d had a chance to collect himself, Don was faced with a once-in-a-lifetime decision.
As an Endeavour Foundation Ultimate Life Changer lottery winner, Don could choose between three spectacular prize packages, each valued at $500,000.
While Don admitted the off-road adventure package, including a Toyota LandCruiser 300 and Kedron ‘Topender’ caravan, was mighty tempting the pull toward the gold was just too strong for the prospector.
“I thought, gee the gold would be nice. I’ll just dig a hole in the hill here and keep it for after,” Don joked.
And while Don was welcome to take his hefty haul of precious metal and head for the hills, like all of Endeavour Foundation’s gold bullion winners, he was also given the option to trade his gold for cash with Endeavour’s partner gold bullion house, Ainsley Bullion.
“I was very tempted to take it as gold,” Don said.
“But in the end, I just cashed the lot!”
Despite now being half a million dollars richer, and being well past the typical retirement age, the former farmer still has no plans to slow down.
“I’m happy doing what I am doing. It keeps me active. I couldn’t retire after being a farmer,” Don said.
Instead, the father of two has made sure that his family is looked after before treating himself.
“I have helped out my son and daughter with a bit of money and bought a new car,” he said.
It was Don’s parents’ involvement with people with intellectual disability when he was growing up that encouraged him to become an Endeavour Foundation supporter many years ago.
“I’ve been supporting for at least fifteen years, maybe even close to twenty,” he said.
“I’m a Star Supporter so it’s all automatic – you just see the tickets come in on your phone, but you never think you are going to win.”
But luckily for Don, his prospector’s patience finally paid off, with a gold strike bigger than anything he could have ever imagined. And from a place he never expected.
“I’ve never found anything worth as much as this,” Don laughed about his Ultimate Life Changer lottery win.
Looks like there’s some gold in them there hills after all.