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Reviving the tradition of panning for gold along the Drava Cycling Route

The Slovenian part of the Drava Cycling Route is an increasingly attractive destination for both domestic and foreign cyclists. Under the slogan "An Experience Around Every Turn," it hides many adventures along and on the river Drava, from rafting, rowing, and swimming, to enjoying a variety of culinary delicacies, to learning about the cultural pulse of riverside towns. In the future, existing experiences under the brand Drava Bike will be joined by a new one, gold panning, which is being developed in the Municipality of Starše as part of the ZLATA DRAVA (Golden Drava) project.

The Partnership for the Drava Cycling Route, in cooperation with the Municipality of Starše, carried out "panning for gold" on a cycling trip along the Drava Cycling Route on Saturday, September 12th, 2020, as part of the GOLDEN DRAVA project in the Municipality of Starše. As part of the mentioned project, they are reviving stories about gold prospectors, with which they want to pass this cultural-historical tradition of panning for gold in Zlatoličje on to subsequent generations. With the start of the next cycling season, we can hope for a new experience along the river Drava, which will enrich all that the Drava Cycling Route has to offer. The Municipality of Starše applied for the Golden Drava project at the invitation of Local Action Group (LAG) Lastovica, and the partners in the project are Gradnje Starše, the Starše Tourist Association and the Zlatoličje Sports Association.


Last Saturday, two groups of cyclists, one from Maribor and the other from Ptuj, rode to Zlatoličje, where the Golden Drava project provided a re-enactment of gold prospecting. The event began with a presentation of local providers (Beekeeping Lovrec Marjana, Radolič Farm, Golob Farm, Selinšek Farm and Gordana Pajtler) at the Pal Farm, which also displays an Oldtimers' Museum. The presentation was followed by a demonstration of gold panning, as it used to be done before World War II when about 200 gold prospectors made a living with this activity. Stories of gold finds in the Drava alluvium date back to the sixth century BC. After the historical presentation, the participants of the event also grabbed shovels and special dishes for panning gold, and the first enthusiastic shouts followed shortly when the first Drava gold nuggets were shone. The Ptuj maker of wooden jewellery, Srečko Molk, also uses Drava gold nuggets for his unique jewellery.


The group of cyclists from Maribor was led by Uroš Rozman, director of the Maribor Development Agency (MDA), who said: "The Drava Cycling Route in Slovenia, under the coordination of the MDA, is being improved infrastructurally from year to year, which is taken care of by the municipalities along the river Drava and the Slovenian Infrastructure Agency (DRSI). In the area of the Municipality of Starše, we plan to arrange rest areas and information boards next year, and we are also striving to pave at least the most endangered parts of the cycling route. However, a cycling route without a tourist offer does not represent an added value in terms of the development of tourism in municipalities; therefore, the support of the Deputy Mayor of the Municipality of Starše Sandi Furek in the gold panning project, which has potential to become one of the key building blocks of the tourist offering along the Drava Cycling Route in the future, is very important."

The Municipality of Starše managed the organization and presentation of the local offer as well as the gold prospecting re-enactment. Visibly satisfied with Saturday's event, Deputy Mayor Aleksander Furek, local tourist guide and idea leader of the Golden Drava project, entrusted to us "that it was a great pleasure for him, that, as the idea leader, he awaited the implementation of the first workshop of the Golden Drava project,” and, he continued, it was “A beautiful event that presented the product of field and historical re-enactment of gold panning in the river Drava, a business opportunity in tourism, promotion of local providers, promotion of sports and recreational events, as well as connections with other tourist events and destinations. As part of the Golden Drava project, we also want to arrange cycling pit stop points, crannogs glamping camp, RV parks, educational paths, Motorikpark, entry and exit points, a cableway across the river Drava... With its products and vision, the Drava Cycling Route offers enormous opportunities for successful tourism, it has a vision, a wealth of adventure tourism and offers the development of tourism in the wider and narrower local community."

Even Dr Sašo Šantl, from the Institute for Water of the Republic of Slovenia (IzVRS), who has been visiting the river Drava for many years and presented to the participants both the history of gold prospecting and the panning process, is not hiding enthusiasm about the Golden Drava project: "Gold is a durable metal that can also be easily shaped. There is not much gold in human possession, and it is also difficult to obtain new gold. Because it is rare and at the same time durable, at first, humans regarded it as something beautiful and powerful. Gradually, however, with the development of society, people began to use gold as a unit for exchanging various goods. Silver and copper, for example, was also used as a means of exchange, but the gold unit was intended for the exchange of higher-value goods, especially the exchange of property, other metals, glass, leather, pottery, and larger quantities of food."

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Photos: Jernej Borovinšek for Drava Splash
Maribor Development Agency (MDA) and Maribor – Pohorje Tourist Board for Partnership for the Drava Cycling Route and Municipality of Starše

Reviving the tradition of panning for gold along the Drava Cycling Route
Reviving the tradition of panning for gold along the Drava Cycling Route
Reviving the tradition of panning for gold along the Drava Cycling Route
Reviving the tradition of panning for gold along the Drava Cycling Route
Reviving the tradition of panning for gold along the Drava Cycling Route
Reviving the tradition of panning for gold along the Drava Cycling Route
Reviving the tradition of panning for gold along the Drava Cycling Route
Reviving the tradition of panning for gold along the Drava Cycling Route