The hidden treasure still waiting to be found

By Paul Ewart

There's plenty of sunken treasure still waiting to be discovered. Photo / 123RF
There's plenty of sunken treasure still waiting to be discovered. Photo / 123RF

Wannabe Indiana Joneses and Lara Crofts, listen up! While you might think that buried treasure only exists in the fictional pages of a Robert Louis Stevenson novel or a big screen blockbuster, in reality there's a veritable trove of treasure out there waiting to be discovered. You just need to know where to look.

From forgotten 17th century pirate shipwrecks laden with jewels, to sunken Nazi gold; why not make your next trip overseas a treasure hunting one?

Here are the top destinations where you can potentially strike it rich.

CORNWALL, UK

The Cornish coast is a shipwreck Mecca. Photo / 123RF
The Cornish coast is a shipwreck Mecca. Photo / 123RF

When it comes to long forgotten, sunken, treasure-filled shipwrecks; the Cornish coast reigns supreme.

There's a string of wrecks peppering the coastline and many of them contain priceless gold, silver and gems. Less than a decade ago, the world's most valuable shipwreck was discovered with salvage teams bringing up around $600 million worth of gold and silver coins, but despite the enormous haul there's still much more waiting to be found.

Amateur divers can try their luck at spots such as Rill Cove, where a wreck from 1619 lies with the bulk of its gold cargo still intact, or at Hanover Cove, where $15 million of riches from the The Hanover ship lies on the seabed.

And there's even potential for treasure to be found on dry land. At the appropriately named Dollar Cove, silver coins from a wrecked Spanish galleon have still been known to be washed up on shore. Keep your eyes peeled.

LAKE TOPLITZ, AUSTRIA

Stunning Lake Toplitz in Austria is known to contain chests full of Nazi treasure. Photo / 123RF
Stunning Lake Toplitz in Austria is known to contain chests full of Nazi treasure. Photo / 123RF

Stolen gold, diamonds, fake currency and containers of priceless artworks - all sunk into a remote lake in Austria.

Faced with imminent defeat towards the end of World War II, the Nazis - logical to the end - decided to sink containers housing millions of dollars of fake currency, riches, artwork and other items into Lake Toplitz, located at the top of the Austrian Alps.

Several expeditions have managed to find a tiny fraction of the Nazi's counterfeit money, alongside missiles and even a printing press, however, dangerous sunken logs and scarce visibility have also meant that several divers have lost their lives during the process.

Though obviously precarious, the gold and artwork - which some speculate includes the famous Russian Amber Room panels - is still waiting to be recovered.

NEW ORLEANS, USA

Lake Borgne in New Orleans is thought to have treasure buried within it. Photo / Wikimedia Commons
Lake Borgne in New Orleans is thought to have treasure buried within it. Photo / Wikimedia Commons

One of the most famous pirates to have frequented the states was French buccaneer, Jean LaFitte, who - along with his brother - became the scourge of the high seas.

Rumoured to have accumulated so much wealth that he resorted to burying much of it, after his death the legend of his hidden treasure began to grow.

There are several reported locations dotted around New Orleans, varying from somewhere along the shores of the Contraband Bayou or in the connecting Lake Borgne (right off the coast of New Orleans) or on Jefferson Island in the southernmost part of Louisiana's delta country.

COCOS ISLAND, COSTA RICA

Cocos island, Costa Rica, looks like it's straight out of a treasure hunting movie. Photo / Getty Images
Cocos island, Costa Rica, looks like it's straight out of a treasure hunting movie. Photo / Getty Images

The gold and jewels of the Incan empire is the stuff of legend. So understandably, after conquering the Peruvian Incas and amassing years worth of untold riches, in the face of a revolution the Spanish conquistadors were eager to take their ill-gotten gains back to their homeland.

A British sea captain was entrusted with the task of ferrying the loot, however, struck with temptation he and his crew murdered the Spanish guardsmen accompanying them and are believed to have buried the entire haul on Cocos Island, near present day Costa Rica.

An inventory at the time listed 200 chests of jewels, 1,000 diamonds, gold crowns and hundreds of gold and silver bars and the haul would now be worth an estimated $200 million-plus. A very tidy sum for the lucky treasure hunter that unearths it.

THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS, USA

A photo provided by Forrest Fenn shows a chest purported to contain hundreds of gold coins, gold nuggets and other artefacts that he says he buried in the mountains. Photo / AP
A photo provided by Forrest Fenn shows a chest purported to contain hundreds of gold coins, gold nuggets and other artefacts that he says he buried in the mountains. Photo / AP

Eccentric millionaire art dealer, Forrest Fenn, sparked a modern day treasure hunt in 2010 after he revealed that he had buried an antique bronze chest full of gold and other riches somewhere in America's Rocky Mountains. After hiding the loot, he then published a memoir, which contained a cryptic poem with various clues directing would-be treasure hunters to its mystery whereabouts.

Despite thousands of prospectors trekking through the mountain range (a range that traverses Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming) the $2 million-plus trove still remains somewhere in the ground.

COOBER PEDY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Coober Pedy is famous for its underground network of tunnels and valuable opals. Photo / Getty Images
Coober Pedy is famous for its underground network of tunnels and valuable opals. Photo / Getty Images

You don't necessarily need to go far to go treasure hunting.

Given that the earth beneath Australia provides nearly 100 per cent of the world's opal supply, there's booty potential just over the ditch. And at the centre of the country's opal rush is Coober Pedy.

Located half way between Adelaide and Alice Springs, more than half of all opals are mined in and around this unassuming South Australian town. While its professionally mined, visiting opal hunters - or "noodlers" as they're known locally - are free to sift through the "Jewell Box" dumping area for small opals or pieces of potch (low-quality opal).

And given that only an estimated 10 per cent of the area has been mined, there's still plenty of gems to be found.

- news.com.au

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