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Kathy Sykes' Diary

Day 27: Extracting Gold

A really nice, mellow day - apart from sand flies and diesel. Our challenges this time: Jonathan and Ellen - lucky things - are finding 'treasure' from a map. What a nice idea! Mike and Mike are trying to extract gold from the hunks of rock they found on the mountain. Mike B is 'making' (extracting) mercury from a beautiful pink rock (cinebar) to help. Rather him than me! Don't fancy working with mercury!

Photo: Kathy and Kate on black sand beachI'm working alone - trying to get gold from black sand. Began by going to Gallespie Beach to seek black sand. It's a beautiful black beach littered with crazy, twisted hunks of tree - gnawed by the sea and spat out onto the beach. From the beach, looking inland, there is an amazing range of textures. Beyond are smooth pebbles and then there's a layer of those crazy twisted gnarled tree trunks. And further beyond, old, majestic trees with beautiful trunks. And snowy mountains as a backdrop. Just gorgeous that we get to work here!

But, it was hard to find the black sand. We''d come here two days ago to check that it was here and it was so easy to find that time. Great lashings of it - strewn down the beach. But today - where there was sand - there are now pebbles. The whole character of the beach has changed! Astonishingly so! But we did manage to find some black sand eventually.

Filmed what we needed - while being eaten alive by sand flies. They were monstrous! Relentlessly finding their way through layers of clothes to bite your most tender flesh. Amazing how such a beautiful beach can be spoiled by such small creatures!
Back at the saw mill I tried out a few things.

Photo: Kathy back at the saw millTried using a magnet to cohert the iron ores from the sands. A few bits of sand leapt onto the magnet but so few it was pathetic. I then tried another approach - whipping up the sand in water and diesel. The idea is to get the gold flakes to stick to air bubbles formed by the diesel. Don't know yet if it worked but felt so sick from breathing diesel fumes - don't think I want to use this method! So, I'll probably try make a sluice box tomorrow designed to catch my gold flakes.

Meanwhile still feeling sick from the diesel!

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Photo: Kathy Sykes
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