Looking for gems, Gemhunting with other people is more interesting than going by your self. Plus it is much safer in groups. There is so many place to go between Mt Isa and Cloncurry, area.
All Year round Fossicking.
In the hotter months you do not do much fossicking because the rocks are even very hot, having a air conditioners in your cars, and having shade when you go fossicking make it a nice day out. You have to start out very early in the morning. Out here it is day light at 6am and it is still day light at 7pm at night, in the summer months.
When there is no rain.
Camping And Fossicking in cooler Months of the year.
I live in Mount Isa. North West Queensland. Only over the past 4 years have I been Interested in Fossicking for Gems- Stone. I am still a newbie. Lots more to learn. Fossicking is all year hobby. When there is rain, no way do you go on a dirt road, you are asking for trouble.
North West Queensland Fossicking Area’s.
You have to have a Fossicking Licence, before you can go Gem hunting in Queensland. If you are looking for gems-stones-rocks-gold, you have to have a licence,
Out here you can explore the country side, bush, if you have a 4 wheel drive and a good GPS. So easy to get lost.
Remember the land belongs to some one, so you could need permission to go on there land. Find out from the locals Lapidary Clubs. Or go to Government website to find out more..qld.gov.au
You are stupid if you go out exploring when it is wet. Raining.
We nearly got caught, 3 times in 2016 June, July and October. We packed up quick, we could see the rain coming. We were lucky we did not get stuck in the mud. The clean up took a week to do. Not much fun.
Weather. No Phone.
In the North West we do not get very good weather reports, our report is possible showers that never happen. over phone coverage is gone 5 minutes out of town. That is why you show have a good GPS. Ours has bird eye view, so you can see the country side ahead of you. It tracks you where you go, and when you get out of the car, you put it in your pocket. No chance of getting lost that way. If you have not got a GPS mark your trip, when you get out the car mark your track, use rocks.
Take your own water.
Take your own water, most of the creeks beds are dry. Water for drinking and washing your hands and stones.
Out of Date Books.
There is a lot of books out there that are out of date. Pictures Most Placers are not accessible in the wet. our country is red/black mud. even a 4 wheel drive can not handle it most of the time. Going on roads after flooding only wrecks the roads for everyone else. No one grades the roads we go on, if you check with your insurance company you will find even your car is not insured on these roads.
Want to go Fossicking. Not Sure where to go.
If you want to go fossicking and you are not sure where to go, Ask your Question, I might be able to answer you. Most people out here are very friendly. Best idea is to go into the tourist shop, in the town you are visiting, buy a sample of the stone you are looking for. ( Remember to support these shops they have to make a living).
Places you can go between Mount Isa and Cloncurry.
1: To search for gold or Precious stones in abandoned workings , rivers ect.
2: To search for something amongst other things.
To search for minerals for a purpose other than commercial gain to a depth 2 meters by.
digging by hand
using hand held instruments
Fossicking is a unique and fun way to see and explore some of the most scenic out back landscapes where ever you live. Just love to go out on weekend trips, do nothing. but digging holes.
Queensland Fossicking Laws
In Queensland Australia, the government has dedicated fossicking area’s, they are located throughout the state. There is a lot of places you can go fossicking outside these dedicated area’s. A lot of stations/ mining company will have camping area’s , some times you have to pay camping fees. You always have to get permission before going . Ask lots of Question before you go.
Fossicking Laws are Different in All States in Australia and overseas. Do your Research, before you go.
I live in Queensland I buy my fossicking Licence monthly, as you do not go out every month fossicking, If you are going out fossicking it is to easy to get a licence on line before you go. Send yourself a receipt to your e-mail account. Other wise most tourist shop sell them. One month Fossicking Licence is around $11.
Have your Licence on you.
I have been out fossicking in Queensland and a mining department employee came and ask us if we had a licence. We were 200 kl from a town. So It pays to have a Fossicking Licence. In Australia every state is different.
Join your local Lapidary Club.
Lapidary clubs have field trips and they show you what gemstones to look for. They take you to some great spots. Our club have a lot of stones on display at there club house, from all over the world, None of them have much valuable.
Going out by yourself, which we do all the time is ok, Try to get enough information about what to look for and where to go. It took us two years to find a easy way to get to one fossicking area, everyone told us different stories on how to get there. That is why field trips, tag along tours are great way to find and learn about Gemstones.
When we first started looking for Gemstones everyone, sort of did not want to tell you where to go. Even now they all tell you different stories. So it is a good idea to do research before you leave. One place we went to was O’Brien Creek, there is a lot of stories there to find topaz. We dug in the creek, unsuccessful. The other people we were with went over the other side of the hill and found a nice blue Topaz Three times Fossicking to O’Briens creek we found a nice blue 59ct topaz, plus a lots of smaller ones.
Field trips is a group of people that go out together looking for gemstones. Day trips or overnight. It is good to go out with a groups of people. Showing of your finding is great fun. Tag along tours is great when you do not know what to look for and if you do not have any equipment. We did a tag along tour for Sapphires, so we could learn and understand more about how to find them, what to do, it was a great help.
When going fossicking make sure all of your own needs are catered for first. First off you need to cover up from the sun. Sun screen and shade is a must have items. We put a shade cover up over our dig.
A chair, Lots and lots of water drinking and washing water, food. Safety Kit for injuries like rock splinters cuts . Safety Equipment and safe tools are a must have items. Safety Goggles ,Gloves, closed in shoes. Tools Every year rock collectors are injured – including being blinded, by using the wrong hammers.
Hammer and Hammers.
Geologists hammers are made of special steels, and the striking ends are bevelled to prevent steel splinters from flying of them. Special geological chisels are made for the same reason.
Where do I dig.
When starting of in Queensland , designated fossicking areas, you can get a map of the area on the internet at Queensland Department of Mines and Energy, ( Or Stop at the tourist shop in the town nearest to where you are going to dig these people are very helpful) It will show you tracks where you can dig. When arriving you will see a lot off holes every where. If the hole has a bucket , pick, or some thing else in it, it is a no go area. You can do the same to your hole when you start digging. It is a known rule with fossickers. But be careful because there are people out there that steal equipment. So you have found your hole.
Know were to dig.
Move a lot of dirt.
You have to move a lot of dirt , to find a Gemstone .most/sometimes you wont find what you are looking for. We use a sieve . We look through most of the dirt we move. Sieve come in all sizes. We have a steel stick about 5 feet tall, that holds our sieve, so we fill and shack.
How dip to dig.
The dirt at the Top/Sides of your hole you are in you have top soil, which is were grass grows/what we walk on. Then you have another layer which is called sub-soil, you will see the different colour or grit/dirt of the soil. All that soil has to come off.
You can find gemstone on the surface too.
Next layer off soil is called the wash, this is where you find the gemstones. The next layer is clay that you don’t have to move. Using sieve is a good idea when first starting out. Some gemstones like sapphire do show there colour/shine , until they have wash on them. Opal is the same.
Some areas the soil that has not been worked, it is virgin ground. Meaning it has not been dug up.
I can remember digging a hole 2 meters deep, and in our sieve was a one cent piece.
At Amethyst Castle there is Amethyst everywhere. The mine has graded the roads and have a very nice camping area. We found a nice shady tree and started our own hole. Very easy work. You just have to pick a spot and dig, the soil is very rocky with amethyst. Amethyst Castle you need permission to go there. The mining company only want to make sure you return home safely from your trip out fossicking.
Crystals from Crystal Mountain
The hardest thing is climbing up the hill. It again is rocky soil, just dig softly, you don’t want to brake that cluster of crystal. There is 3 ways to get to Crystal Mountain.
Toms. mountain again you have to Climb. Lots of different Rocks/Gemstone to pick up in this area.
One of My fossicking trips
Fossicking for Agate July 2015
My first gemstone is The Agate. We did a day trip to Agate creek in Central Queensland. July 2015. The road is dirt, It has lots of ups and downs, ( creek/gullies, and hills) This is one road not to be on in the wet season.
After travelling for a good hour we came to a camping ground on our right. Because we did not know, what or where to go ,we decided to follower the road to the end .( we did have a map of the area) At the end of the road was another camping ground. We turned around and turned off, at the first turn to right, drove in as far as we could, got out and had a look around , there was smashed rocks everywhere.
Tumble the rocks.
I picked up a lot of small whole agates. knowing I can put them in the tumbler. when I get home.
Moved On After Lunch.
Had lunch and move on, We did the next turn to right, stopped at the creek bed first , there was agate in the creek bed, drove on where there was a lot of cows, we had a look around picked up a few more agates.
First turn Right.
Our next turn to the right was a long drive in. You have to stop and look around all the time, this is where we found most of our agates. There was diggings everywhere, smashed agates everywhere. The different colours were everywhere. I picked up a lot of broken agates the colours were beautiful, they can be used for everything, like jewellery , cladding pot ,soap container and more, beautiful colours.
Going Back to Agate Creek.
Agate Creek is must go back to places.
Second time we went to agate creek 2017. We camped at the first camping grounds. The people there are very helpful. Spent. a week there, at the camping grounds, there is toilets and showers. Cost was $7.50 a night each.
We will be going again one day.
Lake Moondarra Mount Isa.
Another place I went to for Agates. Lake Moondarra near Mount Isa. These we call Gooseberry Agates. Over time I have picked up a lot of broken ones, They have a lot of fractures in the stone, so they just crumble when you cut them, I don’t know if there is a chance of getting a whole one. But again There is lots of things you can do with them. They have lots of colours like greens, red, dirty yellows and browns.
They are call Gooseberry because the outside of the stone looks , is like a lot of small berries stuck together.
There is a lot of different agates across our beautiful country. The colours are just beautiful.
Please leave a Comment.
I would love to hear about your fossicking trips, love hearing about other people finds. Need any help please leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Thank You Wendy
Cutting/Polishing your gemstone, Equipment you can buy.
Lapidary Equipment can be quite expensive .
Join your Local Lapidary Club so you can learn about Gem/Rocks and use there Equipment.
A Cabbing Machine.
Like the picture above. Yes I have one of these great machine. At the moment I am doing opal. I use 4 Wheels. One to shape, on to take the mark out of the stone, and one to smooth the stone. and of course the polish.
You do cabbing to get different shapes, to your stones.
A Tumbler simulates the natural action of water on stones. The rounded Pebbles on a beach or in a stream bed are the result of a stone being moved through water and abraded by sand and other rocks over a very long time .A Tumbler significantly Read More
Vibratory Tumblers are faster than Rotary tumblers and have a much gentler action which retains the natural shape of stones rather than smoothing them into a rounded shape. They are more expensive and require more frequent monitoring.
GY-ROC Model C Vibrahone, 40 pound. copy this link and put it in your search bar to find out more about a Vibratory.
Various polishing compounds for polishing stone, gems or glass. Diamond polish in powder, stick, spray or compound form. Oxide polish in powder for cabbing/tumbling or stick form for faceting. It is up to you, what you want to try. Have a look at your local club for more ideas.
Every one has a different way to polish.
My first stone I did was a rock from the creek. I cut it, tumbled it, then put a hole in it.
You have to have a go, the end results are very rewarding.
Gem of a holiday, Camping in the Bush Park at Opalton.
Search for opal, by Noodling. Patience and a good eyes.
Opalton, Queensland’s Capital of Boulder Opal.
Offers visitors the opportunity to fossick for opals.
Finding a bit of Sparkle in a rock and then making something from it is very rewarding. Opal is Beautiful
Boulder Opal From Opalton in Queensland.
Boulder opal is the second most prized form of opal, after black opal. The name derives from the fact that boulder opal is found embedded in ironstone boulders. The opal usually forms as thin veins within these boulders, and most stones are cut to include some of the host ironstone matrix. Boulder opal is sometimes referred to as opal in matrix for this reason. Boulder opal is especially attractive because, like the black opal, it has a dark body tone which adds vibrancy to the play of colour. Boulder opal also has a higher density because of the ironstone content, and can be more durable as well.
Opalton is 120kl From Winton
Boulder Opal is found at Opalton. Opalton is about 120 kl From Winton. The road is a dirt road is pretty good. You have to watch out for the animals crossing the road.There is a bush Park at Opalton, they like people to camp there. Toilets and shower .
Opalton is a Small place, People do live there, that have got claims. Such a very friendly place to visit. Most of the claim sites are, tin shacks and caravans. When you dive to Opalton from Winton which is 120kl, it is a dirt road, yes you would be able to drive a normal car there, the first thing you come to, is the sign for Opalton. A little ways up, you will see buildings on your left. Kept going and on your right you will see a sign saying bushpark. This is where you camp, it has toilets and showers. Hot water if you light the donkey. Cost in May 2016 was $2.50 each per night. When you set up camp the locals come down and talk to visitor., very friendly people.
Lots and lots of flies, make sure you have cream and a fly net.
Opalton is the centre of the largest and most extensively worked opal deposits in Australia. The opal fields are within a belt of deeply weathered cretaceous rocks known as the Winton Formation and they mainly produce ‘Boulder Opal’ – the second most valuable opal after the Black Opal.
The field was discovered in 1888 by George Cragg, a stockman from Warrnambool Station. The first claims were worked in 1894 and the township was started in 1895 following a rush to the region. By the end of the century the township was supporting about 600 people and the usual commercial activities were established including two hotels, stores, blacksmith and saddler’s shops, as well as a police station and telegraph office.
Now days there is a hand full of people working claims out at Opalton. One claim owner has been moving a lot off dirt, and has not seen any colour for 6 months, ask why, you never know what tomorrow will bring, plus once you see the colours of opal, it is addictive,
When visitor go to Opalton they fossick in dirt piles around the camping grounds, or ask the locals where to go. Just remember these people are very helpful and go out of there way for visitors. Ask if they, have opal for sale, support these people.
Opalton, Queensland’s Capital of Boulder Opal, also offers visitors the opportunity to fossick for opals. You do have to have a fossicking licence, they are only around $10 for a month. Most tourist shop have them or go online to buy one.
Spray Water Bottle.
Fossick through the piles of dirt at Opalton, To see Opal easy it is a good idea to have a spray water bottle on hand, when you see a flash of colour, spray water the brilliant colours shine , just makes you want to find more. So So Pretty.
Looking for Opal
It Is rugged, in the Australian out back.
Dirt tracks every where, it is a good idea to have a navigator, to leave sail tracks so you can get back to where you come from.
Some places like Opalton have tracks go every where.
Equipment For Noodling.
Equipment for Noodling, The only equipment you require is a small pick ( a prospector’s pick is ideal). Patience and a good eye. Another item is your spray bottle of water, and a container to put what you find in.
When it Rains.
If it rains you don’t go anywhere, even to leave your camp to go for a walk is a big effort, Mud. Off cause you have some people just because they have a 4 wheel drive they can go through the mud, they just wreck the roads. Stupid.
No Phone Coverage.
There is no phones coverage. If you can afford a satellite phone is great. The locals have phone lines and TV’s. Batteries, Generators, Solar Panels .They Just have got a great life style. Nothing to spend money on. Once they have set up camp.
This is our third time back to Opalton. Why? Because of the Opal you find , and there is not any digging, Peace and quite. Love Opal and Love Opalton
Born in the dark and depths of time,
Taking Millions of years to form,
Coloured with silicon rainbows fine
Lies the opal with Heart so warm.
Entombed in beds of hardest clay
Many a foot from the top,
It’s very hard work, the miners say,
But the prize is the best of the lot.
The pick rings out on the hard, white bed,
The hope rise high in the miner’s breast,
The sparks fly off past the miner’s head
And a river of light is exposed to the test.
He holds the candle close to the vein,
Red, Green, Yellow and flash bright,
Now taken from mother earth where it has lain
Treasured by mankind, born to the light.
This was Written By.
Michael Lynn (at the age of 14 years).
Need more information about Opalton . Please leave me a comment. and I will get back to you soon.
I fossick on the surface when we go to Opalton , I do have some stone for sale, it is pot luck, if you find opal in the stone, most stone show signs of opal. Postage will cost more than the stone. Contact me.
Rock Hammer. One end digs dirt and the other end smashes rocks
Buy- Estwing E30 Leather Grip Pointed Tip Rock Pick This is the hammer used to split and trim stratified rocks or dig into sediments. Its chisel end is handy for splitting shale layers in search of fossils. It’s also well suited for carving clean exposures of sediment layers like varied clays or lake beds to prepare them for sampling or photography. The hammer head is suitable for light chisel work. This hammer must not be used as a chisel, that is, by hammering on the hammer’s face, or it may chip
Rockhounds/Fossickers have several different rock hammers to choose from. One is usually enough for a day trip, as long as it is the right one. Suitable hammers can be found in most large hardware stores, although they may not be labeled as rock hammers. For many users, these are all they need for a lifetime.
High Quality. Yes.
Hammers of higher quality and different designs are available from specialty manufacturers and dealers. Heavy users, people with unusual physiques, rockhounds/fossickers who want a wide choice of options and someone looking for a special present should seek these out, but most people do not need a premium tool.
Tools From Discount Stores. NO
The important thing is to never use a carpenter’s hammer and avoid cheap, off-brand tools from discount stores. These can be made of soft or poorly tempered metal that may splinter or bend in heavy use, endangering the user and anyone standing nearby. Cheap materials in the handle may also strain the arm and wrist, perform poorly when wet or turn crumbly after long sun exposure. Some are not Safe to use.
I use my rock hammer a lot when Fossicking, It moves the dirt better than any other tool.