A day in the life of our gold pourers

Dec 8, 2023

 Sophie McDonald, Paul Couchman and Fred Woolhouse, gold pourers at The Perth Mint

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a tour guide and gold pourer at The Perth Mint?

We’ve quizzed a few of our long-standing guides to find out what life at Western Australia’s oldest mint is really like.

Q1: What was it about the job that made you apply for the role?

Oliver Ou: As a former tour guide in southern China, I love being a guide again after COVID restrictions were lifted. Being a gold pourer at the Mint has built up my tourism career in an English-speaking environment. After all, it’s not every day you can find a job that allows you to do cool stuff like pour gold.

Oliver Ou, gold pourer at The Perth Mint

Sophie McDonald: I thought it was a pretty unique opportunity. Before starting here, I didn’t know anyone in the precious metals industry, so I thought it would be pretty cool to do. Also, I’m a bit of a history buff so it really appealed to that side of me as well.

Fred Woolhouse: It was an exciting opportunity that incorporated both my passion for history and the tourism industry.

Paul Couchman: The gold pour! I was actually looking for a ‘real job’ at the time but the opportunity to play with gold was too good to pass on. I’ve also been lucky enough to go on plenty of tours myself (11 whisky distilleries in Scotland to name a few), to the point that I wondered if it was something I would enjoy doing, and here we are.

Q2: What do you love most about your job?

Oliver Ou: Playing around with gold bars but not getting into trouble! I would also say that it is about bringing joy to others. Especially when I can become the connection between the Chinese speaking visitors and improve customer experience.

Sophie McDonald: Pouring gold! But in all seriousness, I think the most rewarding part of the job is when people come up to you after and say that they really enjoyed being on the tour and had a lot of fun.

Fred Woolhouse: Receiving a round of applause at the end of a tour. There aren’t many jobs that you get this kind of reception!

Paul Couchman: Definitely the gold pour! It’s really hard to top, both for us and for the crowds. Honourable mentions go to the customers that have their own unique stories to tell – and the ones that have creative medallion ideas that we get to bring to life. Being paid to talk about interesting topics and come up with jokes to go along with it – to be performative without having to perform a part – can be satisfying, as long as the crowd laughs at your jokes, of course.

Q3: Do you ever get nervous in front of the crowds?

Oliver Ou: Of course, especially when I started the job. But with the accent training and getting to know more about the gold industry, I feel more relaxed in front of the crowds.

Sophie McDonald: Strangely enough, only when there are a few people on the tour. For some reason it’s a lot easier to do it in front of a larger audience.

Fred Woolhouse: When I first started, absolutely! It gets much easier as the years progress.

Paul Couchman: Absolutely – though definitely not as much as the first few tours. There can be a lot of unpredictability – motorbikes, helicopters, crying babies, and more – but if you can find a way to laugh at what would otherwise be a stressful situation the crowd usually laughs along with you.

Q4: We get plenty of amazing reviews about our tour guides, is there a friendly rivalry behind the scenes?

Oliver Ou: I feel more like we are inspiring each other to become our greater selves instead of competition. I would say all of us have different styles to run our tours. It's great that we have diversity.

Sophie McDonald: Not so much around each other. We’re a pretty friendly bunch, so it’s more just a bit of banter between mates. Although, secretly I do get a bit smug if I have the most positive reviews at the end of the month.

Fred Woolhouse: Not that I've ever come across. The great thing about the exhibition team is that we all recognise each other's strengths and celebrate each other's successes.

Paul Couchman: Absolutely! There’s plenty of opportunities to trash-talk each other when guests are giving compliments – can't let anyone get too much of an ego. There’s certainly no debate that I have the best hair though.

Q5: Have you ever encountered anything odd whilst working at the Mint? i.e, ghostly sightings.

Oliver Ou: Nothing odd or spooky that I can think of sticks out. But let me know if you need a ghostbuster.

Sophie McDonald: It was Perth Heritage Month and we were all dressed in period clothing. I thought I saw the ghost of a Victorian child wandering the grounds... turns out it was just one of the guides in costume.

Fred Woolhouse: Not a single day goes by where we don't get asked a funny question. My favourite was when a kid asked me, "What would happen if I ate the molten gold?"

Paul Couchman: I can’t say I’ve experienced anything supernatural, but we definitely get our fair share of interesting customers. People are more than happy to hand around nuggets they’ve found, or rare sovereigns and fancy gold jewellery. We’ve had old employees give us a few handy stories to pass on. Plenty of people are also happy to claim they were involved shipping the one tonne coin or finding any of the nuggets and specimens we have lying around.

Book your tour

If you’d like to come and meet out wonderful gold pourers, book your tour here: https://www.perthmint.com/visit/book-a-tour/