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Fossicking in Australia

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Fossicking Australia
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  > How to sieve
  > Taking Care

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Many people plan their holidays around fossicking, with some passionate fossickers going fossicking at every opportunity. Whether it is gold, semi and precious stones, it can become an addictive passion.

Each state and territory has it own fossicking laws, so you need to contact the appropriate government body as to their legal requirements. Information about fossicking in areas known for 'fossicking' or promoted as such, can often be had from the local information centre. We also provide information under our Fossicking - Other Links.

Following are some tips when fossicking for gemstones.

Where to Fossick

There are a number of fossicking areas throughout Australia. To avoid disappointment, pre-plan your trip by contact the local Visitor and Tourist Information Centres to find out what locations are available and whether permission or a permit is required.



NSW Inverell, Copeton Waters Gemstones.
NSW Glen Innes and Severn Shire Gemstones - sapphire, emerald, garnet, topaz and quartz crystal.
NSW Hill End Gold
NSW Blayney and Blayney Shire  
NSW Bellata (Narrabri Shire) Agate, jasper, opalised opal, petrified wood
NSW Bathurst Gold
NSW Abercrombie Caves Nature Reserve  
NSW Lightning Ridge Opals
NSW Mogo Gold
NSW Mudgee Gold
NSW Murwillumbah   
NSW Oberon Gold, sapphire, zircon, diamond, smoky quartz crystal.
NSW Sofala Gold
NSW Uralla  
NSW White Cliffs Opal



QLD Chillagoe Crystal
QLD Quilpie Opal
QLD Richmond Fossils



SA Coober Pedy Opal
SA Farina Quartz crystal
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This depends on what you are fossicking for and where. The following will give you an idea of your needs:

a variety of sieves, a small hand pick, short-handled shovel, a couple of plastic buckets, a small plastic lidded container to store your finds, heavy duty pick, long-handled shovel, a long metal rod such as a screwdriver for getting into the tight areas where there is a lot of rocks.
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Spend a little time 'specking' over the area for signs of exposed wash, previous successful digs, exposed gems due to recent rains, and any indication of unworked ground. When working a dig for example sapphires, you are looking for a layer of wash or gravel seam. This indicates an old river bed.
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How to sieve

Place your sieves one on top of the other and fill your top (5 mm) sieve with wash, submerge below water and shake in a circular motion with a slight up and down movement to partly suspend the wash in the water while turning. This assists with releasing the smaller and finer wash. When washing is complete, remove top sieve and rake through it with your fingers, looking for gems of a 'glassy' appearance or stones of interesting colours. Hold the sieve above you head and into the sun, and if you see anything shine, inspect it as it may be a gem that you have missed. Next inspect the lower sieve (3 mm) and wash again to remove any clay matter. When washed, shake vigorously up and down with the left and then right hand coming out of the water with the wash in the centre of the sieve remaining submerged. Then turn sieve 90 degrees and repeat. This will bring the heavy material to the centre. Repeat about six times and one the last time, bring the line of wash into a round pile at the centre and 'pat' the sieve up and down on the water's surface to level out the wash. Take the sieve to a clean, flat area for inspection and flip the sieve over towards you landing it squarely upside-down. If centred correctly, the gemstones will be in the centre and on top. If you can get someone to demonstrate the technique it will be most helpful.
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Taking Care

When fossicking commonsense should prevail.
  • Fossickers should not cause reduction or change the flow of any waterways.
  • You should not damage or remove bush rocks.
  • Fossicking should be conducted in such manner as to avoid damage or interference with native vegetation and to have minimal effect on native vegetation and fauna habitat.
  • Take all your rubbish with you.
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