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Experience Gold Panning at the SA National Gold Panning Championships

Frieda Paton

The SA National Gold-panning Championships is taking place in Pilgrim’s Rest from September 24-28. Anyone can join in the competition and fun.

What happens at a gold panning competition? At the start of each event, competitors each get a bucket filled with 20 Kg of sand and gravel, seeded with between 5-12 tiny flakes of gold. The number of flakes is the same for each competitor in the heat but you don’t know how many there are.

Competitors line up in sandpits filled with water. After the starting bell, you pour the sand into the pan in portions and swirl it out in the water, until only the gold remains in the bottom of the pan. This seems miraculous when you experience it for the first time, but the force of gravity does provide some assistance.

However, you have to do the swirling just right to prevent your gold from also spilling over the edge of the pan. This is what separates skilled panners from beginners. The next step is to transfer the gold flakes from the pan into the tube – and here you also need to learn some tricks of the trade.

The winner is the one who finds all their gold in the fastest time, with a time penalty added for each gold flake lost. Top panners usually log times of just over one minute!

Gold panning is truly a sport for the whole family with events for pikkies (under 5’s), children, juniors, seniors – beginner and proficient, and veterans. There are also team events and fun events like funny couples and the winner-takes-all joker.

Competitors can enter in Pilgrim’s between September 23-24, and also arrange for a trainer if they haven’t panned before. Late afternoon on September 24 sees the street parade and the official opening. The traditional wheelbarrow race takes place on the following afternoon. On Friday evening you can join the Pub Crawl and enter a lucky draw if your card was stamped at each participating pub.

You can call 013 768 1471 or 082 877 0639 for more information.

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