Metal Detecting On The Beach


The term metal detecting conjures up images of a weird old bloke in glasses and an anorak, shuffling up and down the beach. Admittedly, I do wear glasses. I also sometimes shuffle up and down beaches. But I don’t wear an anorak, I promise.

Stereotypes aside, metal detecting is a highly addictive hobby which has led me to some thrilling discoveries in rural Australia. I love being able to hold something physical in my hands that is a relic of Australia’s rich history. I get a very real buzz digging up an old coin or button from early Australian settlers, and most people who metal detect are just history enthusiasts like myself.


If this sounds like something you might enjoy, then you probably want to know how you can give it a go. Entry level metal detectors are surprisingly cheap. They also hold their value well, so if you don’t like it you can sell your detector without being too out of pocket.

A decent metal detector will cost between $150 and $400. For this sort of money you will find a good all-round detector. Go for a respected well-known brand. I would also start out with a good pair of headphones. While you are still experimenting, and getting to know the different tones, it is best to hear them clearly. It will take a few outings before you can identify the noises which signify something interesting and those which signify some old rubbish. Some entry-level packages will come with headphones, but you can use any headphones on your metal detector. You will also need to pick up a small shovel to dig with. These can cost around $20 or $30.


The most important thing is to ensure you have permission to metal detect on the property. Not all public places permit metal detecting, so check with the relevant authorities before you dive in. Beaches are good places to start because they are usually open to metal detecting and publicly owned. They are also usually well stocked as they have a lot of footfall.

If you are looking for treasures of historical importance, check the historical maps for your area. Find where old schools, town halls, courts, and churches were located and try and detect in these places. If you need to seek permission from landlords to hunt on private property, I always find the best way is to knock on their door and chat face to face. This usually puts them at ease, but it’s also a good opportunity to ask them for any hints of where to start. They might have found something interesting on their property before and can point you in the right direction.


Metal detectors don’t have the best reputation. Some landowners have had bad experiences with night hawkers trespassing on their property to metal detect. For this reason, it is imperative that we are mindful of landowners to restore the reputation of metal detectors. Don’t leave gates open, don’t damage anything, fill in all the holes you dig and take any litter away with you.

Next time you see me shuffling along the beaches of Queensland, come and join me. Dip your foot into the surprisingly addictive world of metal detecting and see what you can unearth.


Is there anything you would like to add? Share your thoughts below.

Oli Ward
Oli Ward

Oli has camped and hiked his way around Australia and most of Europe. He also loves writing about his experiences and sharing his knowledge.