Leigh Webber, known on social media as the Bondi Treasure Hunter, has a saying.
“Anything could be anywhere!”
In a compilation video showcasing his best finds of 2020, it seems that most stuff is underwater.
The video, posted on January 1st 2021, has over 1,800,000 views on YouTube.
Webber—who takes his name from Bondi, Australia’s most frequented beach—is so skilled at finding lost and sunken treasure that it sometimes seems like he must be magnetic himself.
Among Webber’s best findings of 2020: rings galore, gold chains, piles of coins, even a toy car. He even meets a friendly octopus.
In a WIRED interview from 2022, Webber explains his treasure hunting origins.
“I got started treasure hunting at Bondi beach… it was a flat day. I grew up as a surfer and I still love to be in the water whenever I can.”
“Would I describe myself as a history geek? Absolutely not. I paid no attention in school at all. I was surfing every day.”
Though some days treasure might be hard to come by, for Webber, enthusiasm is never in short supply. Each of Webber’s discoveries is accompanied by squeals of delight.
Throughout the video, the treasure hunter paws away frantically at rocky sand, babbling excitedly, his head ringed in a halo of bubbles, and the waters continue to reward the fabled treasure seeker.
His most valuable treasure? His girlfriend. Webber’s partner, Nikki, accompanies him on most dives.
“Nikki is my girlfriend. She loves diving underwater with the metal detectors. And she’s found a lot of gold doing that, so she’s like keen to do that… some people say she’s the best treasure I’ve ever found.”
Leigh and Nikki even customized a badass camper van, loading it with dive gear and huge magnets.
Now they’re ready to go dig up awesome treasure at a moment’s notice—and, you can guess, the places they trek off to are natural treasures in themselves.
“When I go scuba diving in beautiful places like Thailand or Ibiza with my metal detector I’m looking for lost, usually modern, jewelry,” Webber explains. “Hopefully gold. Australia, you can go out in Australia metal detecting and find chunky gold nuggets out there. I mean, who wouldn’t want to find a big chunky football sized gold nugget and retire on it?”
In order to get down to where the sunken goodies lie, Webber uses a Blu3 Nemo, an ultra-portable, lightweight compact dive system capable of supporting a single diver to ten feet. It is equipped with a rechargeable lithium ion battery pack that lasts 60 to 90 minutes—or more.
And if you want to hunt for gold like Webber, he uses the Minelab Equinox 800 metal detector, and the more robust (and expensive) Excalibur 2. The former will cost you just north of $1,000 for a new unit; the latter will set you back roughly $1600.00.
When it comes to finding lost coins and jewelry, it seems there’s no better place to hunt than the tourist-strewn beaches of Europe.
“Living in our van and just searching for treasures all over the world is so much fun. We go wherever we want, really… It’s kind of like a free lifestyle. I usually like to follow the summers. So if its’ nice and warm and people are swimming down at beaches, thats’s when they’re dropping a lot of things… so we just drive our van and live in it. It’s really the best lifestyle ever. We’re kinda like living the dream as they say.”
But when he’s hunting rusty old bicycles or forgotten relics of war, Webber seems to prefer the continent’s canals and waterways.
In a video from July 30, 2020 he and his buddy Ramon unearth a cannonball at the site of a house in Amsterdam built in 1448.
In that same video, Webber and Ramon dredge up an old pink Vespa Piaggio scooter encrusted in mussels.
“Molly Malone would be proud,” Webber jokes, referencing the 1983 song by The Dubliners.
Speaking of clams, what is Webber’s favorite find? A discarded pair of panties, with a gold ring entangled in it.
“This has gotta be one of my favorite all time finds,” Webber says, showing the camera. “It is a pair of panties… there’s a ring tied in a knot attached to it. So some girl lost her panties—and the ring—both at the same time.”
“Nikki didn’t want me to keep them,” Weber adds with a laugh.
How does it feel to be a grown up finding success as a treasure hunter?
“It’s kind of childish in a way,” Webber reflects. “But in a way it’s also reality.”