The story of the Holtermann Nugget

GOLD GOLD GOLD FOR AUSTRALIA! Well not quite, just like at the Olympics, what looked like a lot of gold turned out to be about third as much. But none-the-less is still the largest “gold specimen” ever found, and it was found by a prominent Sydney resident.

The “Holtermann Nugget” was found in 1872 at Hill End by Bernhardt Holtermann. It was 1.5 metres long, weighed 286kgs and was composed of a mixture of quartz and gold. But don’t be fooled by my opening statement, it still contained 93kg of gold!

Holtermann was born in Germany in 1838 and came to Sydney in 1858. He moved to the goldfields in 1861 where it was tough going for 10 years before this big discovery.

Due to his mining exploits, Holtermann returned to Sydney and built a mansion at St Leonards (now part of Shore Gramma) which included a tower and a stained glass window of himself and the “nugget”. His real passion however was photography and his work in this area is of significance to Sydney’s history.

One particular photograph, known as the “Holtermann Panorama”, was taken his mansion’s tower and joined 23 “albumen silver photographs” to form a continuous 978cm view of Sydney Harbour. A special image which won various international awards at the time.

Holtermann’s exploits didn’t stop there. He was also elected into the NSW Parliament in 1882 as well as dabbling in the formulation of medicine. He passed away in 1885 but I think you’d all agree he sounds like he was quite a man!

I’ve been having a sniff around’s blog lately which sparked this post. They’ve recently released 3.3 million records from the Victoria Coastal Passenger Lists which included Holtermann’s travels via Melbourne. This was one of the main modes of travel at the time so may be worth looking at if you’ve previously struggled to track down your ancestry.

Note: I try to be as accurate as possible but make no guarantees. Please use this information at your own risk.

Photo courtesy the State Library of NSW via Flickr

The Holtermann Nugget

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