HEAVEN knows how a cannonball lay undetected on Shire Hall beach for the past 120 years – until Peter and Fairlie Pirouc stumbled upon it last week with their metal detector.
The Croydon couple often use their detectors to search for valuables, but never before had they been to the Mornington beach where the three kilogram ball was found only four or five centimetres under the sand.
“We heard yesterday that it may have been from an old ship that came in,” Ms Pirouc said.
“Or perhaps it came from the fort at Queenscliff with all the dredging? It’s one of those mysteries.”
Whatever its origin, the find caused quite a stir – first for the couple who joked that it could be a bomb, and then for staff at their local police station who feared it was a bomb.
“It looked the same colour as the surrounding rocks and blended in, and then I saw that it was cylindrical and picked it up,” said Ms Pirouc, adding that she was usually the “digger” who follows her husband about as he explores likely terrain with his more expensive detector.
After finding the object with her cheaper $75 detector on Tuesday she called out to Mr Pirouc “and I’ve never seen him scoot up so fast”.
After a leisurely lunch in Main St, and with their find “safely” stowed in the boot, the couple followed a hunch and stopped off at Ringwood Army Barracks on their way home to report it – only to be redirected to Croydon police station.
There, the next day, the possible dangers were quickly realised and the station evacuated.
A plugged hole drilled into the cannonball signalled the danger, and Army officers from Victoria Barracks arrived to take it away and detonate it.
“We didn’t know if it had black powder in it or not,” Ms Pirouc said.
The couple are frequent visitors – and big spenders – at a Croydon metal detecting equipment supplier, which set Ms Pirouc thinking: “We should be getting sponsorship,” she quipped.