From valuable jewelry to children’s toys and car keys, Kirk Gray has seen it all on beaches in the Town of Blue Mountains and beyond.
However some more hazardous items he has found in his travels make him pause with concern.
Gray is a hobbyist that specializes in metal detecting. Since his retirement, he and his wife spend about half of their time at their home in the Town of the Blue Mountains, and he spends much of that time combing local beaches with his metal detector, collecting trash and treasures.
“I’m a scuba diver, so my initial interest was to be able to incorporate scuba diving with metal detecting,” said Gray. “I go out in the mornings on the beach and I get to chat with people.”
Gray has had an interest in metal detecting for more than 10 years. He says he finds it to be a social habit where he chats with people along his routes and is sometimes able to reunite them with their items.
Over the years, Gray has found nails, screws, tent pegs, jewelry, toys and bottle caps.
During a typical beach haul, he estimates he’ll find between $3 and $4 in coins.
“Kids will take their toys and bury them,” he said. “I always look for kids on the beach to give them toys back.”
Car keys are a common find as well.
He recalls an instance while metal detecting down south where he found a platinum diamond ring.
“It was probably worth $3,000. I never found an owner. I brought it to the hotel (nearby)... and asked if they’d had any reports, and no,” he said. “No one ever contacted me.”
Gray says there is also a protective component to metal detecting, where he works to keep the beaches safer by removing items from the sand such as nails and tent pegs, which he says are regularly left behind by beach goers.
He worries that some of the items he has found in his travels could cause injuries, which helps keep him motivated to continue.
“If anything, I'd like to point out the amount of sheer garbage I find on beaches with the hopes that people using the beach would be more careful with the trash they leave, especially things like tent pegs that can hurt children,” said Gray.
Gray says he’d love to be able to reunite some of the items he finds with their owners, or assist people who may have lost items on local beaches in finding their property. He also has the appropriate equipment to also search in the surrounding water.
If you’ve lost something on a local beach and would like assistance with trying to locate your items, Gray can be reached via email at email@example.com.