BURIED TREASURE: 5600 historic coins found on TSRC site

A TREASURE trove of more than 5600 coins, some of them dating back as far as the 19th century, has been uncovered on the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing construction site.

The Chronicle can reveal details of the incredible historic find for the first time following the recent completion of a Department of Environment and Science investigation, which saw the treasure-finder - a former Nexus employee - fined $1828 for failing to comply with the Queensland Heritage Act.

The man stumbled upon the coins, buried in a metal container, during initial earthworks in October 2016.

A Department of Environment and Science spokesperson said further investigation showed the coins were of archaeological significance, varying from copper to silver, with a date range from 1882 to 1940.

The coins are in Australian currency. The State Government has released a photo of one of the coins - a 1927 silver florin.

One of the coins - a 1927 silver florin - found during construction of the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing.
One of the coins - a 1927 silver florin - found during construction of the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing. Contributed

Florins were a coin used in Australia before decimalisation in 1966. Between 1910 and 1945 they made from 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper.

"While the financial value of the coins is unknown, the historical value and importance is high," the spokesperson said.

Investigations into who buried the coins, and why, are ongoing.

The DES, Department of Transport and Main Roads, archaeological experts, and Nexus, have been working to determine the cultural and historical significance of the find over many months.

A DES spokesperson said the department had recently completed an investigation "into the reporting process regarding the discovery of a number of historic coins".

Toowoomba Second Range Crossing.
Toowoomba Second Range Crossing.

"The department's investigation concluded that the company involved complied with the Act. However, an individual, who was an employee of the company at the time of the offence, was issued a penalty infringement notice for the amount of $1828 for failing to comply with the Act."

Under the Queensland Heritage Act 1992, a person who discovers and archaeological artefact that is an important source of information about an aspect of Queensland's history must notify the DES as soon as practicable after making the discovery.

A TMR spokeswoman said the department was unable to release the location of the find, "due to the potential risk of illegal trespassing on site".

The coins are currently being kept in a secure location agreed between TMR and Nexus.

TMR, Nexus, and the Queensland Museum are in discussions regarding the long-term home of the coins, with the final location to be confirmed.