QUEENSLANDERS wanting to enjoy low budget, family-friendly activities closer to home are contributing to a spike in demand for prospecting and fossicking.
That’s according to Clermont business owner Frieda Berry-Porter, who has called on Burdekin state election candidates to commit to increasing public prospecting areas.
She believes this should include in state forest and council reserves.
Mrs Berry-Porter, owner of The Outback Prospector, makes a living selling metal detectors and accessories for recreational prospecting out in the Clermont goldfields.
She said the social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic had contributed to an increase in interest for prospecting and fossicking.
“We see people from a wide range of postcodes and occupations being drawn to the simpler life, what might be called ‘virus refugees’, to reconnect with the bush and chase a bit of gold out in the regions, particularly with the recent record gold prices,” Mrs Berry-Porter said.
She said metal detecting was also a popular activity for the resource industry workforce, who, while less affected by economic constraints, felt the effects of occupational and relationship stresses.
“Young single males in the industry have found metal detecting to be a welcome escape from the highly regulated minesite environment,” Mrs Berry-Porter said.
Given the State Government’s focus on supporting the economy through the pandemic, the Clermont business owner is urging Burdekin state election candidates to commit to investing in the “social economy”.
“By providing greater opportunities for unstructured recreation, this would help reconnect our Central and North Queensland communities and improve our collective mental and physical health in an organic way, rather than just relying on the delivery of underfunded health services to fix multiple social problems,” she said.
Here’s what the Burdekin state election candidates had to say about it:
Burdekin MP Dale Last (LNP):
“There is obvious economic and social benefits for the communities that welcome prospectors and this will be even more important as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions,” Mr Last said.
“It is essential that we take into account the benefits that recreational prospectors bring as well as the need to ensure the property rights of landholders and ensuring our state forests are used appropriately.
“It is vitally important to provide recreational activities for locals and tourists while also ensuring that these activities are undertaken responsibly.
“By seeking input from all relevant stakeholders, we can ensure that we create a system that benefits all members of the community.”
Carolyn Moriarty (NQ First):
“NQ First are committed to seeing the tourism potential of North Queensland developed, and I am excited to be meeting with Frieda who has great enthusiasm and passion for prospecting around the Clermont region,” Ms Moriarty said.
“I look forward to working with Frieda and other stakeholders and exploring ways to ensure the Clermont goldfields are recognised as a destination of great potential.
“We should be encouraging more of this low-impact recreational activity on public lands.”
Sam Cox (KAP):
“Put simply KAP has a track record in supporting more access, within reason, to the general population for state-owned lands like state forest for hunting and camping as many Queenslanders from a variety of backgrounds want to enjoy the great outdoors similar to those that enjoy wetting a line be it freshwater or in the salt,” he said.
“Prospecting is as old as the nation itself from the early gold rush days to the many mineral discoveries that have helped build this proud state.
“It is right that we consider what more may be done to grow this pastime and outdoor recreation.
“We must consider all aspects with regards to looking after the natural environment, but I am sure this can be done.”
Mike Brunker (ALP):
“This is a group that does a lot for the community. I admire their passion, and would be happy to work with them in the future,” Mr Brunker said.
Ben Wood (UAP):
Daily Mercury reached out to the United Australia Party for comment, but did not receive a response by deadline.