John Deason was born in 1829 at Tresco on the Isles of Scilly in Cornwall, England

Below is taken from the Western Argus newspaper Oct 19 1915. Click here for actual clipping


A few weeks ago the death was reported of Mr. John Deason, the discoverer of the famous "Welcome Stranger" nugget, which ranks as one of the largest nuggets, if not the largest, of which there is any authentic record. Mrs. B. Robinson, eldest daughter of the late Mr. Deason, who resides at North Williamstown, has kindly forwarded a copy of the 'Dunolly Progress." containing an account of the finding of the nugget from which the following is' taken.

"The discoverers -John Deason and Richard Oates had known each other from boyhood in Cornwall, and they came out to, Victoria within a few months of each other. After spending some little time in other places, Mr. Deason came to Moliagul, where soon after Mr.Oates joined him. They became mates and Mr. Oates being then single, lived with the Deasons in Little Bulldog Gully, which is situated about a mile south-west of Moliagul and eight miles north of Dunolly. After mining together for a while, the two men selected a piece of land near the house and cultivated it. They did not discontinue puddling but worked the land in their spare time. In 1869 (the year of the Gipsy rush) they were surfacing on the slope of a small hill near the house. A 9-lb. nugget had been previously found almost on the spot where the house stood and they themselves had found a 34-oz piece close to the same place. From the house they had for over a year, followed a continuous surface trail of payable gold up the hill, which led them eventually to the 'Welcome Stranger.

On Friday Feb 5th 1869, Mr. Oates went to work-in the paddock, harrowing, while Mr. Deason got out dirt for the puddling machine. About 9 o'clock, whilst surfacing a few chains from the house, the pick struck something hard. He picked in two or three different places and each time struck a solid body, which he naturally thought to be a large stone. Loosening the earth around it, Mr. Deason found to his amazement that it was a giant lump of gold. Thus was the nugget found that afterwards became known to the world as the "Welcome Stranger." It was resting on a bed of stiff red clay and was only half an inch from the surface, being covered with but a thumb's thickness of earth. The spot had often been walked over before. The nugget measured about 21 in. x 10 in.

In one part a live stringy bark root ran through the gold, with a solid and unbroken ring of gold completely encircling it. This, next to the weight, was the Welcome Stranger's most remarkable feature. As with the adherent quartz etc, the nugget then weighed 3 cwt so they had to bring up the dray (an open cart, used for beer barrels) to get it to the house. When weighed afterwards at the bank its value proved little short of £10.000. Eventually they wheeled it in a barrow to the fireplace in the house and left it in the fire for 10 hours to burn away the debris.

On the following Tuesday Messrs. Deason, Oates, Brown, Eudie and McCoy took the nugget in a dray to Dunolly. where it was sold to the London Chartered Bank. It weighed 280lb and was worth £9,555. The official return showed that 98.6 of the nugget was puregold.

For some time after the find Messrs.Deason and Oates continued to work together, then Mr. Oates went to England and on returning to Australia went in for farming pursuits and died some years ago at Woodstock, Victoria, where he had acquired a valuable property. Mr. Deason remained on the old spot and did much to develop mining resources at Moliagul. He entered into business as a storekeeper but mining always had its fascinations for him and while attending to business, he sought on his own account to develop at that time the well known Wayman's Reef, on which he expended a great deal of money with not the fullest results he had anticipated. Later he established a public battery, which was a great boon to prospectors and in this he had considerable success. He established a saw-mill, and later on settled led down quietly to farming pursuits at The Springs, Moliagal.

He died on September 13th 1915 aged 85 years, leaving a widow, five sons and four daughters.