[WRAP]http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQdBy3FnvW0UqtfzQ9ckIRoMuHpIGnzkibohRZdoLO9At8TcSTB[/WRAP]It's like the middle of the nineteenth century again with a gold rush revival (of sorts) under way across FNQ, with recreational prospectors and small mining operations striking it rich on the back of soaring Gold prices. As the price of gold hovering around $1760 an ounce, local mining experts said the interest in gold prospecting and panning was at an "all-time high". One prospector near Mt Mulligan, about 170km west of Cairns, had found about $20,000 worth of gold in the past few weeks alone. Experts said the intensity of the past wet season unsettled alluvial gold deposits previously covered by sand and gravel in rivers, sending it downstream to new, accessible locations. Small towns on the Tableland and in the Gulf are reaping the benefits of the renewed interest, with accommodation regularly booked out on weekends by recreational prospectors. The North Queensland Gold Panning Championships held at Mareeba was so popular the organisers are searching for a bigger venue for next year’s event to cope with ever-increasing crowds and entrants. Hot spots in the new hunt for gold include areas near Georgetown, Mt Mulligan, Forsayth, Gilbert River and the old gold stomping grounds of the Palmer and Hodgkinson rivers. George Mayer, who is experiencing the busiest period of trade since he opened the NQ Miner’s Den in 1987, said the high price had sparked unprecedented interest. He regularly sells out of exploration and prospecting equipment such as metal detectors, ranging in price from $300 up to $6000. "There’s a good cross-section of people getting into it now from the serious prospector to mums and dads who want to take the kids out bush and do a bit of gold panning," he said. "Every wet season has the effect of moving tonnes and tonnes of soil around, but when you get an extra heavy season like we’ve just had, it is possible that areas that were previously covered by river gravel can now be exposed. "Sometimes that can uncover deposits that have been out of reach for the normal fossicker. Customers of mine are finding gold worth anything from a few hundred dollars up to thousands." Liam O’Toole, 21, is the caretaker at Mt Mulligan campgrounds, where he takes guests on gold panning tours. He has been prospecting for gold in the area since he was nine, learning the tricks of the trade from his father, a prospector for more than 30 years. Liam recently found an estimated $20,000 worth of gold in the space of a few weeks using a metal detector and an intimate knowledge of the land. "I think it’s a bit like fishing, because finding the gold is not that difficult, it’s just a question of knowing the techniques and understanding the make up of the land," he said. "The streams all hold gold and with a gold pan and a little time, all ages can experience their own bit of gold fever. North Queensland Miners Association vice-president Frank Markert said the revival" of gold prospecting in the Far North was under way. "With the price of gold rising towards $2000 an ounce everybody wants a piece of it," he said. "Our membership has grown steadily over the last three years and we’ve now got 130 or so paid up members, mostly small miners and small company miners. Tropical Tablelands Tourism vice-chairman Bram Collins said renewed interest in gold prospecting had wide-ranging benefits for the region.