The best place to sell gold pans is at the Gateway to the Rocky River

Karen Johnson and Mike Schill now sell gold pans at their community shop at Drake.

Susanna Freymark

More than two years ago Mike Schill and Karen Johnson opened a rustic looking shop on their property at Drake.

The Drake Community Store sells the basics – milk, bread, honey, eggs, pies from Country Crumbs Bakery in Casino and more.

“We know our clients now, there are lots of locals and tourists stop here too,” Mike said.

“One woman rides her horse here to buy milk,” Karen said.

The shop is located on Long Gully Road – a dirt road leading to Rocky River where for decades gold was mined and prospectors came in search of the precious metal.

Panning for gold in the Rocky River.

The road drive winds through stunning country taking in views of the Rocky all the way to Tenterfield.

Mike said the road is a Gateway to the Rocky and he is organising a sign to say just that.

For the tourists in search of gold, the store sells gold pans, portable, foldable spades, glass vials to put all the gold you find and other gold panning equipment.

The gold panning equipment for sale at Drake.

Mike and Karen started stocking gold panning gear because there was nowhere in Drake for tourists to buy the equipment.

Now on the way to explore the Rocky River tourists can buy the tools they need to find gold, have a coffee and a pie and be on their way.

A gold pan costs $25. A foldable shovel is $25.

All tourists need now is a map where they can access Rocky River.

Mike and Karen would have liked to provide them at the store but can’t find one. If you know if a decent map exists email

The Rocky River in its gold mining heyday. Photo on the wall at the Lunatic Hotel in Drake.

Mike and Karen are exploring the idea of having a food hub for locals at the shop.

“There’s one in Tabulam but it’s only open one day a week,” Mike said.

“We’ll be open seven days a week.”

Mike and Karen live on the property with the chickens (the eggs are sold at the store) and their big pig Jasmine.

The Drake Community Store is open every day 7am–5pm.

Read about the adventures as a gold prospector.


Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au (from the Latin word aurum) and the atomic number 79.

Jasmine the pig at the Drake Community Store. Photos: Susanna Freymark

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