Fossicking thread

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Fossicking thread

Postby Lefty » 31 Aug 2013, 18:13

The young bloke has started showing an interest in minerals and gemstones (a budding geologist perhaps?) so I've been looking for fossicking locations that are within about an hour and a half's drive, if nothing else to get him away from skype and computer games for a while and do something in the real world.

Drove down the road to the Tannum Sands turnoff where we used to collect agate when I was a kid. There never was a recognised fossicking area there, a building supply company had a sand and gravel mine there for concreting materials, and their excavations had exposed a bed of agate. Much of it was pretty ordinary looking IMO but we did find a few pieces of really nice coloured, banded agate of the sort you would see in a lapidary display. Got there this morning to find a huge steel gate across the road with "keep out upon pain of death" (more or less) signs everywhere. Looks like a no-go.

Then I remembered digging for amethyst and clear and smokey quartz as a kid near a tiny place called Lowmead, not far from Miriam Vale (where you got hit in the wallet on your first trip up). Did some searching and came up with a mud map....

http://www.lapidaryworld.com/images/qld17.jpg

The map is obviously a very old one and I've been trying to find out if you can still go and dig there. Sent an email to the Bundaberg lapidary club. No reply yet but after I sent the message I noticed that further down their webpage there was a list of their upcoming field trips and one of them was Lowmead. Hopefully I can still get in without anything special (it's possible that being an official lapidary club they may have special permission - anybody could go there when I was a kid). Went to dad's and got a couple of sieves and a washing drum. Put the picks, shovels crowbars etc in the back of the ute. Will put in a big container of water for washing, in case there is no water nearby.

Wanted to keep this thread seperate from "The field" thread since this is local area fossicking. If I can't get into Lowmead either, this could be a very short thread :jump
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Re: Fossicking thread

Postby HBS Guy » 31 Aug 2013, 18:20

Are fossicking fields nearby, bits of gold and precious stone—too many snakes about by now but must see what can be done next winter.
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Re: Fossicking thread

Postby Lefty » 31 Aug 2013, 18:23

What gemstones are in the Adelaide area?
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Re: Fossicking thread

Postby HBS Guy » 31 Aug 2013, 19:24

Diamonds, rubies, emeralds, just not much and not big. Some unemployed were encouraged to fossick in the (first) Great Depression.
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Re: Fossicking thread

Postby Aussie » 31 Aug 2013, 19:31

Left of Centre wrote:The young bloke has started showing an interest in minerals and gemstones (a budding geologist perhaps?) so I've been looking for fossicking locations that are within about an hour and a half's drive, if nothing else to get him away from skype and computer games for a while and do something in the real world.

Drove down the road to the Tannum Sands turnoff where we used to collect agate when I was a kid. There never was a recognised fossicking area there, a building supply company had a sand and gravel mine there for concreting materials, and their excavations had exposed a bed of agate. Much of it was pretty ordinary looking IMO but we did find a few pieces of really nice coloured, banded agate of the sort you would see in a lapidary display. Got there this morning to find a huge steel gate across the road with "keep out upon pain of death" (more or less) signs everywhere. Looks like a no-go.

Then I remembered digging for amethyst and clear and smokey quartz as a kid near a tiny place called Lowmead, not far from Miriam Vale (where you got hit in the wallet on your first trip up). Did some searching and came up with a mud map....

http://www.lapidaryworld.com/images/qld17.jpg

The map is obviously a very old one and I've been trying to find out if you can still go and dig there. Sent an email to the Bundaberg lapidary club. No reply yet but after I sent the message I noticed that further down their webpage there was a list of their upcoming field trips and one of them was Lowmead. Hopefully I can still get in without anything special (it's possible that being an official lapidary club they may have special permission - anybody could go there when I was a kid). Went to dad's and got a couple of sieves and a washing drum. Put the picks, shovels crowbars etc in the back of the ute. Will put in a big container of water for washing, in case there is no water nearby.

Wanted to keep this thread seperate from "The field" thread since this is local area fossicking. If I can't get into Lowmead either, this could be a very short thread :jump


Odd, really.....I'm a Bundy Boy born and bred, and never heard of any gems around the area, including Lowmead. There ya go, ya learn something every day.
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Re: Fossicking thread

Postby Lefty » 31 Aug 2013, 20:49

Aussie wrote:
Left of Centre wrote:The young bloke has started showing an interest in minerals and gemstones (a budding geologist perhaps?) so I've been looking for fossicking locations that are within about an hour and a half's drive, if nothing else to get him away from skype and computer games for a while and do something in the real world.

Drove down the road to the Tannum Sands turnoff where we used to collect agate when I was a kid. There never was a recognised fossicking area there, a building supply company had a sand and gravel mine there for concreting materials, and their excavations had exposed a bed of agate. Much of it was pretty ordinary looking IMO but we did find a few pieces of really nice coloured, banded agate of the sort you would see in a lapidary display. Got there this morning to find a huge steel gate across the road with "keep out upon pain of death" (more or less) signs everywhere. Looks like a no-go.

Then I remembered digging for amethyst and clear and smokey quartz as a kid near a tiny place called Lowmead, not far from Miriam Vale (where you got hit in the wallet on your first trip up). Did some searching and came up with a mud map....

http://www.lapidaryworld.com/images/qld17.jpg

The map is obviously a very old one and I've been trying to find out if you can still go and dig there. Sent an email to the Bundaberg lapidary club. No reply yet but after I sent the message I noticed that further down their webpage there was a list of their upcoming field trips and one of them was Lowmead. Hopefully I can still get in without anything special (it's possible that being an official lapidary club they may have special permission - anybody could go there when I was a kid). Went to dad's and got a couple of sieves and a washing drum. Put the picks, shovels crowbars etc in the back of the ute. Will put in a big container of water for washing, in case there is no water nearby.

Wanted to keep this thread seperate from "The field" thread since this is local area fossicking. If I can't get into Lowmead either, this could be a very short thread :jump


Odd, really.....I'm a Bundy Boy born and bred, and never heard of any gems around the area, including Lowmead. There ya go, ya learn something every day.


I'll let you know how we go tomorrow evening :jump

There are a lot of things hidden in the earth outside of recognised mining areas that few people know about.
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Re: Fossicking thread

Postby Aussie » 31 Aug 2013, 20:51

Did a google.
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Re: Fossicking thread

Postby Lefty » 31 Aug 2013, 20:56

Was just talking to dad (he's over on the island with mum and Betty and Tim and Tim's brother who is up from Sydney). He's pretty sure that you can still get in there. It's something similar to the sapphire wash at the washpool - the crystals occur in a surface wash beneath about eighteen inches of sandy loam. It's a gravelly wash band sitting on a hard clay bottom. He says most of them are not facetable although they still make good specimens.

Tim caught a 90 pound shovel-nose shark earlier this arvo. Took him half an hour to land it. Dad says he's slumped in his chair on the veranda, completely buggered - even the rum is not helping :bgrin
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Re: Fossicking thread

Postby Lefty » 31 Aug 2013, 21:01

Aussie wrote:Did a google.


Yeah, I'm a member of that forum. Didn't see that thread. No one has mentioned anything like that.

Bundaberg lapidary club still appear to hold field trips to the spot.

I'll go down tomorrow for a look anyhow, seeing as it isn't that far.
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Re: Fossicking thread

Postby Lefty » 31 Aug 2013, 21:22

Well I'm gonna hit the hay, gotta be rested for digging tomorrow. Might be a waste of time, might not be. Still get us out of the house for a while anyway.
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Re: Fossicking thread

Postby Lefty » 01 Sep 2013, 06:06

Sun almost up. Got everything ready except for the most vital tool, a pick - I broke the handle of mine. Gotta shoot over to dad's place when it gets light and grab one.

Productive or not, it'll be a good day out :jump
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Re: Fossicking thread

Postby HBS Guy » 01 Sep 2013, 09:03

Have fun Lefty & Lefty jnr!
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Re: Fossicking thread

Postby Lefty » 01 Sep 2013, 20:54

The young bloke (12 years old) and I headed down to Lowmead this morning, about an 80 km drive. Turned off the Fingerboard road from Miriam Vale onto the Colusseum road, which turned out to be 30 km of dirt. A few potholes here and there but not to bad overall. Arrived before the only establishment in town - the pub - was open so I decided to rely on the ancient mud map. Turned down Christianson road (I think) and drove for miles into the bush without seeing any of the landmarks on the map.

We were about to turn around when I noticed a ute off the road with an old couple beside it, pouring molasses into an old bathtub for their cattle. I wandered down and asked them if they knew where to find the amethyst diggings - it turned out that the old bloke (in his 70's at least) was the person who found the amethyst in the first place :purple A telephone pole had come down and while telecom said that they would repair the line, he would have to plant the pole himself. He started digging down and up came the amethyst! He notified them of his find and within a short while, people were turning up from all over the country.

Armed with new directions, we drove back to an area we had overlooked on the way in and through the bush we could see old diggings. The area looks like an old WW1 battlefield covered in shell craters. Only saw a couple of recent diggings.

Got into an old hole and opened it up a bit, exposing an extremely thin (less than 2 inches thick) band of gravelly wash resting on a hard clayey bottom with almost a metre of sandy loam soil overlying. Dug, sieved and washed for about half a day - nothing :sad Decided to go for a speck along the side of the road. Quickly turned up a small smokey quartz crystal (fairly poor), a partial clear quartz crystal and a small, pale amethyst crystal.

The amethyst was perfect - a perfectly clear pale, almost lilac colour with no cracks. Unfortunately it was also perfectly tiny, about the size of a green pea. We ran a few sieves full of gravel from the side of the road through and got a few little pieces but nothing special. But the young bloke was stoked - it fired up his interest in fossicking and got him away from that bloody computer game for a while, and that was worth it.

I still reckon that there is probably some good material still left there but finding it may not be easy.
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Re: Fossicking thread

Postby HBS Guy » 01 Sep 2013, 21:00

If there was lots there it would all have been mined.

Some really nice crystals should keep his interest up OK.
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Re: Fossicking thread

Postby Lefty » 01 Sep 2013, 21:20

Odds on there will still be some there - mined out fields often have another lease on life when new techniques are used or someone with a bit more knowledge comes in. Though I think the Lowmead amethyst deposit is probably only a small fraction of the size of the Rubyvale/Sapphire/Anakie sapphire deposit which covers hundreds of square km (most of it is freehold cattle property not mining field).

I opened a new face on an old hole and exposed a band of virgin wash.....

Image

Only a very thin band - you can just make out the stones.

Image

Might do some research on how quartz crystals are formed and deposited.
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Re: Fossicking thread

Postby HBS Guy » 01 Sep 2013, 21:24

Would be all alluvial there, which is why they are small, I bet—quartz nowhere near as hard as sapphire!
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Re: Fossicking thread

Postby Lefty » 01 Sep 2013, 21:43

Yup, reckon it's a buried alluvial fan?

Wonder if the original source is still there? Some big, rocky hills very close by.
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Re: Fossicking thread

Postby HBS Guy » 01 Sep 2013, 21:54

Could be, need to see if any rounded boulders/outcrops indicating granite*—might be seams through there where superheated water full of dissolved minerals filled a crack or void in the still–hot granite, the water would have cooled slowly letting big quartz + impurities crystalise out of solution.

*Granite weathers by exfoliating. It has no laminations like sandstone so casts off a more or less uniformly thick layer from the whole exposed part, kind of like an onion being peeled layer by layer.
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Re: Fossicking thread

Postby Lefty » 01 Sep 2013, 22:02

Granite outcrops are common in the area. The township of Lowmead itself is tucked in between them. Went back out to the Fingerboard road a different way to the one I came in on - down Gorge road. You drive through some high, rugged hills that overlook the area. Might be worth a look.

Always concerned about dissapearing - might accidentally stumble onto someone's "cash crop" in a place like that. :b
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Re: Fossicking thread

Postby HBS Guy » 01 Sep 2013, 22:07

Might be snakes about too now so great care needed.
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Re: Fossicking thread

Postby Lefty » 02 Sep 2013, 19:14

Yep, Joe Blakes are on the move. Saw a tree snake in the palms along the back of the house.
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Re: Fossicking thread

Postby Lefty » 02 Sep 2013, 19:18

Could be, need to see if any rounded boulders/outcrops indicating granite*


Just remembered that the area just a few minutes drive down the road where we used to pick up agates, right behind that is a landscaping material yard that sells big granite boulders that they dig up right there on site. Agate is a silica-based material just like quartz, wonder if there's a relationship?
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Re: Fossicking thread

Postby HBS Guy » 02 Sep 2013, 19:55

From wiki:

Agate is a microcrystalline variety of silica, chiefly chalcedony, characterised by its fineness of grain and brightness of color. Although agates may be found in various kinds of rock, they are classically associated with volcanic rocks and can be common in certain metamorphic rocks.[1]


So around the edges of the granite dome you could expect to find agates.
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Re: Fossicking thread

Postby Lefty » 22 Dec 2013, 21:00

Interesting discussion with Greg the jeweller, who came with us in the boat today to pull the pots. He is mates with a bloke who lives at Lowmead who says he has found amethyst on his property. The area has never been dug over since he doesn't allow people on there. Turns out that I have actually met the bloke years ago, though I haven't seen him in all that time. He might let us go and have a scratch around - can't see why we couldn't take the generator, jackhammer and trommel since it's not a mining claim area, it's straight out private property.

Amethyst not worth nearly as much as sapphire of course but it still makes damn nice cut stones and jewellery. Additionally, it's only a short drive down the road instead of nearly 500km as it is to the claims.

Very interesting :jump
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Re: Fossicking thread

Postby Lefty » 27 Dec 2013, 21:17

Instead of driving the main highway, we came down to Brisbane through the back way, down through Ban Ban Springs, Nanango, Blackbutt (named only after a species of tall eucalypt that grows in the area :bgrin ) and Esk. At Nanango I noticed a sign pointing to a place called "Seven mile diggings" which was only about 7 km from the town. A tourist info sign said "Fossicking: gold and gemstones". Be interested to find out what kind of gemstones, it's closer to home than the field is :jump
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