A man who stumbled across a bizarre reddish rock whilst hunting for gold has found out years later that it is actually an incredibly rare, billions-of-years-old meteorite.

David Hole found the galactic rock in yellow clay in 2015 as he scoured Maryborough Regional Park close to Melbourne, the site of the famous Australian gold rush in the nineteenth century.

Convinced it contained a valuable gold nugget, Mr Hole tried for years to open it up but was unsuccessful.

Six years later he took the mystery find to Melbourne Museum, where he was told that its value was out of this world, reports The Express.

Dermot Henry, geologist for the museum, described how in his 37 years of working in the area he had only come across two genuine meteorites.

Speaking to Channel 10 News, Mr Henry commented: “I've looked at a lot of rocks that people think are meteorites.”

Mr Henry told The Sydney Morning Herald: “It had this sculpted, dimpled look to it.

“That’s formed when they come through the atmosphere.

“They are melting on the outside, and the atmosphere sculpts them.”

Fellow geologist Dr Bill Birch added: “If you saw a rock on earth like this, and you picked it up, it shouldn’t be that heavy.”

Speaking of its scientific value, Mr Henry said: "Meteorites provide the cheapest form of space exploration.

“They transport us back in time, providing clues to the age, formation and chemistry of our Solar System.

“In some meteorites, there is 'stardust' even older than our Solar System, which shows us how stars form and evolve to create elements of the periodic table.”

He predicted: "This particular meteorite most probably comes out of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and it's been nudged out of there by some asteroids smashing into each other, then one day it smashes into Earth.”

Researchers estimate the meteorite to be around 4.6 billion years old.

Carbon dating analysis puts its time on Earth somewhere between 100 and 1,000 years, with various meteor sightings in the past 150 years potentially offering an explanation for when it crashed here.

They named it after the place where Mr Hole unwittingly discovered it – Maryborough.

It weighs a hefty 17 kilograms, or just shy of 40lbs.

And it’s rare – Mr Henry detailed to Channel 10 News: “This is only the 17th meteorite found in Victoria, whereas there have been thousands of gold nuggets found.”

“Looking at the chain of events, it's quite, you might say, astronomical it being discovered at all.”

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