We Buried Treasure in the Australian Outback 7 Years Ago

Happy Friday, everyone!

Today’s story isn’t really about personal finance … But, it does involve finding hidden treasure! 💎👑💍!! And it could also be a cheap-ish adventure of a lifetime that you can plan for your kids! (Or in my case — future kids!)

The story starts about 30 years ago, back when my friend was ~10 years old…

The Backstory …

My friend’s Dad came home from work one day and said there was a rumor floating around town: “There might be some old hidden treasure buried in this area from pirates way back in the day.”

This was in rural Montana, so the idea of buried treasure isn’t that far-fetched. People find old weird stuff in the woods all the time up there. Plus, kids are excited to believe any fun story — especially if it involves pirates and treasure! 🏴‍ ☠️ 

A few days later, the Dad came back from the pub and said there was an old man there who had his tongue cut out! Apparently his tongue had been removed because he knew the location of the secret treasure, and the pirates didn’t want him running his mouth. My friend’s Dad warned his sons not to tell any of their school friends about the treasure, or their lives might be in danger, too…

A few more days passed and the Dad laid on the story even thicker … He said he might have discovered the general location of the treasure! And that maybe he and the boys should go camping that weekend and search the area for any clues.

The weekend came and they went camping at a remote lake in the middle of nowhere. They brought flashlights, shovels, a compass … You know, all the tools they had seen people use in the movies when treasure hunting.

After setting up camp and looking around, one of the boys found a large rock with some strange markings. The Dad told the kids to start digging, and lo and behold, there was a map hidden in the ground! (Actually, it was one-third of a treasure map, with clues to the other missing pieces.)

It took the entire weekend for the kids to decipher the clues, find the various map pieces, and finally locate and dig up the treasure. The treasure itself was a bunch of foreign coins, old jewelry, and other antique trinkets that you could imagine would be inside an old treasure chest. 

It was one of the most memorable weekends of my friend’s life. And the Dad never told the kids he had set the whole thing up. I think at some point in high school my friend figured out it was all rigged — but he didn’t care. It was still one of the best memories from his childhood.

Burying Treasure for Our Future Kids

So when my friend first told me this story, we started joking about doing something similar one day for our kids. We weren’t even married yet, but we always dreamed of giving our kids the same fun childhoods we had.

Then one of us came up with the idea to bury treasure *now,* even though we didn’t have kids yet. Also, since we had many years to plan, maybe we could set up a *global* treasure hunt.

A little while later (this was back in early 2014), my wife and I got engaged and planned a trip down to Australia to visit my family. We invited a handful of friends to join us and thought this would be the perfect time to find a remote location, bury some treasure, and maybe return one day with our kids.

The Treasure We Buried

There were about 8 of us, and we all chipped in various items. Coins, fool’s gold, gemstones and silver jewelry. Some of our parents threw in stuff like old rings, bracelets, watches … I specifically remember my Mum adding a special ring that her Grandma passed down. Not sure if it’s worth much, but kind of cool knowing that it’s there (and that maybe MY kid will dig it up one day).

Here is a photo from the night before we buried the box. We were swapping stories, memories, and making sure all the items inside looked “cool” for kids to find.

The box itself wasn’t too big. Maybe the size of a small shoe box. From memory, we wrapped it up in a garbage bag so the elements wouldn’t eat and rot the wood. Here’s a peek inside…

Where We Buried the Treasure

Not so fast! You didn’t think I was going to reveal the exact location of the treasure, did you? If I were to tell anyone, I think my friends would have my tongue cut out. :)

What I can tell you is this: It is buried somewhere inside the state of South Australia. (Map below if you don’t know where that is.) We went hiking deep inside a nature reserve and buried the treasure off-trail, in the middle of nowhere.

In fact, maybe it’s a little too well hidden. My friends and I joke about not being able to find it with the crappy notes and vague maps we have. I think one of us was smart enough to snap the GPS coordinates with our iPhone, but don’t know how accurate they are. There’s only one way to find out — to take the trip again with our kids one day.

So … When Are We Going to Dig It Up?

My friend has 2 kids, and the oldest one is 5. Our nephews are about that age too, so I think we’re about 5 years away from planning a big family trip to dig it up.

My wife and I still don’t have kids yet. We got introduced to our foster/adopt social worker this month and are in the matching process. We’re requesting kids in the 2-6 age range, so if this ends up happening, all our kids will be about the same age.

Anyway, it looks like 2026 or so is when we’ll head back down — when the older kids are 10ish. Until then, we are still coming up with a narrative for our treasure story to tell the kids. Also, we are thinking of burying more treasure — on another continent maybe — and making this truly a worldwide hunt.

Pretty cool, hey?


Have any of you done something like this? Time capsules or adventures you had growing up that you plan to relive with your kids?

Have a great weekend,

Love, Joel

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  1. KY Math August 20, 2021 at 7:44 AM

    That would be the coolest thing for kids! Very creative!

    1. Joel August 20, 2021 at 1:56 PM

      Definitely for the kids. But I think the adults will all have just as much fun! :)

    1. Joel August 20, 2021 at 1:52 PM

      Cool! I never knew about this! I’d love to do something similar, but my treasure would probably only be worth $20, not $2 mil :)

  2. J August 20, 2021 at 12:59 PM

    Excuse me while I go put on The Goonies. This is the coolest idea!

    1. Joel August 20, 2021 at 1:56 PM

      We’ll have to watch it right before going on the trip :)

  3. Jeff August 20, 2021 at 2:54 PM

    When our kids were 5 or 6 we were heading to the beaches of South Carolina. We bought a couple of small treasure boxes and put costume jewelry, crystals, fake money etc in them. As we were heading to the beach one day, I went early and buried the treasure boxes. When my wife got there with the kids I suggested we see if we can find treasures that pirates may have buried. Long story short, they found the treasures and my son ran around the beach telling and showing everyone he found pirates treasures. Very good memories.

    1. Joel August 20, 2021 at 3:18 PM

      AWESOME!!!!! This is exactly the memories we’re shooting for. Have a great weekend Jeff!

  4. Alaska49 August 22, 2021 at 2:34 PM

    My son was digging for treasure at the beach…..he dug a deep hole. When he wasn’t looking I threw in two quarters…he” found” them…he was over the moon….so I can’t even imagine the fun and excitement your pack will have!

    1. Joel August 22, 2021 at 3:40 PM

      That might be a good back-up plan if we can’t find our original treasure site… I’ll just tell the kids to start diging a random hole and then drop a few crystals in there haha!