The first recorded discovery of gold in Moliagul was in September 1852 and, before long, the area was flooded with over 4,000 miners.
Two of those miners, John Deason and Richard Oates, had arrived in Bendigo in 1854 seeking their fortune. After eight years of little success, the friends moved to Moliagul and pegged a puddling claim.
In February 1869, Deason discovered a nugget near the roots of a tree, just 3cm beneath the soil. With the help of Oates, he uncovered the largest recorded alluvial gold nugget – known as the Welcome Stranger. The 61cm x 31cm nugget was taken to Dunolly to be measured on the bank’s scales, however at 69kg the gold needed to be broken on an anvil to actually fit on the scales.
Today, the Moliagul Historic Reserve is a picturesque picnic spot with a walking track showcasing points of interest from the gold rush era and a granite obelisk marking the spot of the incredible discovery.