There’s been an upsurge in the number of people fossicking for gold, sapphires, emeralds and opals in Queensland’s hotspots for precious metals and gems.
More than 18,000 fossickers’ licences have been issued in just the last two financial years.
With gold worth nearly $2,500Aus, fossicking can be very rewarding.
Resources Minister Scott Stewart said fossicking is a popular outdoor activity the whole family can enjoy – right here in Queensland’s backyard.
“Whether you’re hunting for gold in Charters Towers and Clermont, searching for sapphires around Emerald or looking for the vibrant and colourful gemstones of Agate Creek, and western opals at Yowah and Opalton – Queensland is a fossicker’s paradise,” Mr Stewart said.
“It’s been a tough year for Queenslanders but we’re encouraging everyone to get out and support our regional communities and explore our state’s natural beauty by urging more families to put fossicking on your must-do list these holidays.”
Mr Stewart said the chance for a heart stopping, eureka moment could be just a stone’s throw away with numerous and proven, rich fossicking areas in all corners of the state.
The lure of a very valuable find grips so many fossickers, and with very good reason in Queensland.
Just 3 years ago, a big sapphire, the Pride of Tomahawk was discovered at Anakie.
It was found by an amateur fossicker and it’s described as (being) the size of a golf ball.
And one of the rarest and most significant sapphires found in the history of gem mining was discovered in central Queensland more than 80 years ago.
The Stonebridge Green weighs a big 202 carats and is owned by a fourth-generation gem miner at Anakie who is a major collector of unique Australian sapphires.
Also, in 2017, a prospector found a large, 1.1763kg gold nugget in a paddock in the Charters Towers region. It was just 15cm below ground and was discovered by a prospector using a metal detector.
Mr Stewart said during the Covid19 intrastate travel restrictions, fossickers have been especially welcome in many far flung, small centres of the state.
“Find your fortune using hand tools such as picks, shovels, hammers, sieves, shakers, electronic detectors and other similar tools,” he said.
“You can collect gemstones, ornamental stones, mineral specimens, alluvial gold – including nuggets and some fossil specimens, but not meteorites or fossils of vertebrate animals.”
Mr Stewart reminded fossickers it was important that everyone does their part to stay safe while visiting these areas.
“Before you leave home be sure to check you have packed sunscreen, hats and lots of water – fossicking is thirsty work,” Mr Stewart said.
“We also recommend that fossickers wear long pants and boots or closed in shoes for protection.
“Fossickers also need to remember to fill in the hole they have dug so the area is safe for others.
“State Government officers undertake targeted checks on site to ensure fossicking activities are happening safely and that people are following the rules.”
The first step to starting your fossicking adventure in Queensland is by going online and purchasing a licence.
A month-long licence will cost a family just $12.40 or $8.65 for an individual.
Information on how to obtain a fossicking licence online as well as maps and rules for these fossicking areas can be found at https://www.qld.gov.au/recreation/activities/areas-facilities/fossicking