New Gympie gold rush as fossicking licence demand soars by 40 per cent during pandemic – ABC News

As Australians reel from the uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic, some are taking inspiration from earlier generations and trying to make their own luck — by fossicking for gold.

In fact, the potentially lucrative pastime has become so popular in the Gympie region, 170 kilometres north of Brisbane, that local Mayor Glen Hartwig says demand for fossicking permits has leapt by 40 per cent during the pandemic.

“With the gold price being $2,500 per ounce, I think there is an interest in mining again in and around Gympie,” Mr Hartwig said.

“Not only are our own residents doing a bit more fossicking but there are the travellers that are coming through trying their luck as well.”

This prospector tries his luck at Deep Creek, near Gympie, a popular spot for fossicking in the region.(Supplied: Sunshine Coast Tourism)

Region’s golden history

The first discovery of gold in Gympie was made by English prospector James Nash in a gully near the Mary River in 1867.

Queensland had recently become a self-governing colony with its own governor, who had encouraged prospectors to search for gold as an answer to the state’s financial problems.

“Which was what Queensland needed to pay some bills, so gold’s been a part of our history since that time on.”

While Mr Hartwig believes the days of striking it rich with large gold nuggets are behind us, there is certainly no shortage of enthusiasm for fossicking.

Gympie Mayor Glen Hartwig says there has been renewed enthusiasm for gold fossicking.(ABC News: Nicole Hegarty)

Volunteers at the Lake Alford visitor information centre, which issues permits for the Deep Creek fossicking area, said a dozen groups had visited the area in the past eight weeks, including gold hunters from Brisbane, Bundaberg, the Sunshine Coast and New South Wales.

“There’s a bit of an art to it, some people are probably better at it than others naturally,” Mr Hartwig said.

“You can use a cradle, which is a bit more industrious, but most people just use a fossicking pan and swirl it around, and the gold’s denser and generally settles to the bottom of the pan.

But he said the town was the real winner, with tourists delivering a much-needed cash injection to the region.

“For Gympie, we’re one of the perfect locations in the south-east corner,” he said. “We don’t have the hustle and bustle and the congestion like Brisbane or the Sunshine Coast.

“It’s a bit of a family day out, the kids can paddle around in the water if you’re down by a creek or a river while you try and strike it rich.”