The Big Gold Panner in Kelso

the big gold panner wearing a yellow shirt and blue jeans looking for gold
The Big Panner in Kelso (Source: Creative Commons)

The Big Gold Panner

The Big Gold Panner in Kelso is found in front of the Gold Panner Inn off the Great Western Highway, Bathurst, New South Wales. He comes with a gold pan, a pick, and a sluice box. 

The Man, as fondly referred to by locals, was constructed in 1979. Bruce Bolam, a businessman who had purchased a motel away from the busy town centre, was the person behind the idea of the Big Gold Panner. He wanted something that would attract visitors to his little-known motel.

A Big Gold Panner was ideal because of the region’s history in gold mining. Bathurst is known as the Gold Country because it was the first region in Australia to discover gold. 

Bolan contracted Hugh Anderson for the construction, who did the initial work at his home in Maroochydore and later transported The Man to the site in pieces. He then welded the pieces together to reveal the 5-metre tall Big Gold Panner. 

After welding the pieces together, Anderson coated The Man with ferroconcrete to make him more robust and long-lasting. Many years on, the sculpture still looks as good as new. 

The Big Gold Panner leans over on one knee while holding a gold pan in his hands. Years after installing The Man, a pool was created at his feet to seem like he is actually panning gold. The sluice box was also added to the masterpiece in 1993.

The Big Gold Planner has been repainted over the years to adorn different coloured outfits. It even wears a red nose on Red Nose Day, a campaign to end child poverty.  

Bolan wanted something that would attract visitors to his motel, and it worked! Motorists and truck drivers who use the Great Western Highway at night are fond of the sculpture. In fact, it has been rumoured that the Big Gold Panner has conversations with some truck drivers who drive by at night.
Talking of gold-inspired Big Things, you’ll love reading about the Big Golden Guitar in Tamworth, also located in New South Wales.

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